Erie Canal Museum celebrates new first floor exhibits

Erie Canal Museum Board of Trustees President, Steve Kelly, thanks everyone for attending and remarks on the bright future of the Museum. Photo by Eva Bouchard

After over a decade of preparation, planning, design, and construction, Erie Canal Museum supporters, trustees, and staff gathered to celebrate the completion of the Museum’s new permanent first floor exhibit, “The Erie Canal Made New York” this past Tuesday, October 4. This project, which cost over $700,000 to complete, was the first major renovation at the Erie Canal Museum since the Heritage Area Visitor Center building was built in 1992. The exhibit was designed by Steve Feldman Design and researched by Debbie Van Buren.

“The Erie Canal Made New York” chronicles the history of the inland waterway that helped shape the United States and made New York City the economic center of the world. The exhibit uses hands-on exhibits, narrative audio tracks, interactive displays and original artifacts to explain why and by whom the Erie Canal was conceived, the technology used in its construction, Canal-inspired inventions, and the waterway’s role in our country’s social and economic development. A display of the 1825 “Wedding of the Waters” ceremonial Canal opening, complete with fireworks sound effects, leads visitors to the 1850 National Register Weighlock Building, the only remaining canal structure of its kind in the country and the Museum’s most important artifact. The exhibit takes visitors on a comprehensive journey through the history of the Erie Canal, beginning with its inception, through construction and immediate success, and all the way up to the present barge canal system.

This project was made possible with support from the Transportation Enhancement Program sponsored by Congressman James T. Walsh; the New York State Canal Corporation; the New York State Office of Parks, Recreations and Historic Preservation;, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Feldmeier; the Emerson Foundation; the John Ben Snow Foundation; JGB Enterprises; and Onondaga County Department of Transportation.


The Erie Canal Museum shares 200 years of Erie Canal history through interactive displays, hands-on exhibits, narrative audio tracks and original artifacts. It includes a full-size replica canal boat, exhibits about Erie Canal commerce and communities, the award-winning Locktender’s Garden and the 1850 National Register Weighlock Building. Admission is free with a $5 suggested donation. Hours are Monday-Saturday 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and Sunday 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. with the exception of major holidays. The Museum is a member of the Council of American Maritime Museums and home to the Syracuse Heritage Area Visitor Center. The Museum is partially funded by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. The museum is located at 318 Erie Boulevard East, Syracuse, NY 13202.