A Finger Lakes Museum Proposal

Sometimes an inspiration will come to me while I’m in the shower. One morning not long ago was one of those times. While some people may sing or whistle, I just let my mind wander in the hope that an intriguing topic will somehow make its way through all that steam. That morning one did.

The Adirondack region has its well-established Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, which celebrates the area’s cultural history, craftsmanship and lore. There’s also the brand-new Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks, a.k.a. The Wild Center, in Tupper Lake. It showcases live exhibits dealing with Adirondack environment, fish and wildlife.

In the Finger Lakes, however, no comparable institution exists. To be sure, we have museums: the Museum of Glass, for instance, and the Rockwell Museum of Western Art, both of which reside in Corning. The Finger Lakes Boating Museum is currently housed at the Glenn Curtiss Aircraft Museum in Hammondsport. We can’t forget the Rochester Museum and Science Center in its namesake city. There are many more in this area, yet we have no cultural or natural history museum to focus attention on one of the most beautiful, ecologically diverse and popular regions of New York State. My idea is a combination of the first two Adirondack museums I mentioned: The Finger Lakes Cultural and Natural History Museum.

Back to the shower
My first impulse was to dry off and run this idea past Mark Stash, the editor of Life in the Finger Lakes magazine, which I did. Mark was instantly receptive and asked for some time to discuss the proposal with his colleagues, which he did.

In the meantime, I contacted Elizabeth (Betsy) Lowe, who conceived the idea for The Wild Center along with some friends on her porch overlooking Long Lake. Betsy went on to make that daydream become a reality. She graciously agreed to meet with me to share whatever direction she could provide to help get this ball rolling, which she did.

Another Betsy, Elizabeth Folwell, who was instrumental in the founding of Blue Mountain Lake’s Adirondack Museum, has kindly offered to lend her insight to this project as well. I will be meeting with her sometime soon.

The potential is endless
Exhibits could celebrate Native American culture and early colonization, and feature the histories of agriculture, viniculture and commerce in the Finger Lakes region. They could include antique boats and farm equipment. I would like to see an immense freshwater aquarium to display the variety of fish species that inhabit the Finger Lakes. A taxidermy exhibit could illustrate native wildlife species, and a special exhibit could showcase the Seneca White Deer.

Each of the Finger Lakes could be individually represented, and perhaps a special presentation on Canadice and Hemlock lakes might be included. There could be an art and photo gallery to exhibit the talents of past and present regional artists, and an auditorium for media presentations, along with a bookstore. And these are just my thoughts. How about having the historical societies from the 14 counties that comprise the Finger Lakes region, and colleges and universities located within those counties, submit their own proposals for cultural and natural history exhibits?

A lot is involved in planning a museum. There is fundraising. There is a business plan. There is site selection. There is master planning. There are public meetings. There are meetings with groups, organizations, legislators and community leaders. There are architectural and exhibit designs. There is marketing. There is incorporation. There is financial management. There is accreditation by the state Board of Regents. There are committees. There are consultants. There are lawyers and accountants. Of all of these, fundraising is the most important component of a project like this.

Mark Stash and Life in the Finger Lakes magazine have enthusiastically endorsed the idea and offered to promote it. I would like to see how much public support there is. I would like to see how much business support there is as well. A well-planned museum has the potential to become an important tourist attraction, further enhancing the Finger Lakes region as a destination.

Log on to LifeintheFingerLakes.com to vote for or against the idea in a reader poll. The results will be an indication of whether the idea has merit and enough support, or is just the rant of a guy who was all wet when he thought of it.

by John Adamski
If you are interested in this museum proposal and have questions or would like to contribute in some way, please contact John Adamski: phone 585-746-6247; e-mail jbadams@frontiernet.net; or visit his website www.jbadamsgallery.com.

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