Something Fishy

The architects and exhibit designers of the Finger Lakes Museum have been charged by the board of trustees to create an aquarium. But not just any aquarium.

“Imagine a linear Finger Lakes aquarium experience that will feature babbling brooks, deep lakes, wetlands and a steep gorge and waterfall cascading out of the aquarium and into a touch-tank pool where kids can experience a world of watery creatures,” says board president John Adamski.

A vision for a 150,000-gallon freshwater aquarium to replicate a cross-section of a typical Finger Lake was included in the museum’s original proposal in 2008.

The aquarium would display living examples of fish and other native species of aquatic life, “as well as some of the nonnative and invasive species that have been inadvertently or intentionally introduced into these pristine waters by man.”

Thanks to an acrylic underwater tunnel, visitors could take a virtual walk along the aquarium bottom and experience what it would be like to be surrounded by fish. Underwater geological features and bottom litter ranging from Native American objects lost for centuries to more recently discarded tires, bottles and snagged fishing tackle could be depicted. A sunken steamboat could represent a tragedy.

A ramped corridor around the aquarium’s perimeter, designed to replicate a Finger Lakes’ landscape, would allow visitors to view different levels of the exhibit from the outside.

Market research indicates that an aquarium like Adamski describes would be the most important component of the museum’s campus in the Museum’s Branchport Campus. He says that compared to other museum exhibits, it would draw more visitors from greater distances.

“But what’s also important is that the aquarium would tell the evolving story of the need to conserve and preserve our clean, freshwater resources,” he adds. “It would inspire stewardship.”

The Finger Lakes Cultural and Natural History Museum, an estimated phased multi-million dollar project, is dedicated to the education, stewardship and enjoyment of the Finger Lakes Region. This May, design plans were unveiled for the first phase of the museum’s Discovery Campus in Branchport along Keuka Lake. In August, ground was broken. It is projected that the first part of the main campus building will be completed by spring or summer 2014. Estimates are that the museum will generate between $12 million and $15 million annually for the region as the result of increased tourism.



When it was announced last spring that the Finger Lakes Museum had been awarded $2.3 million in New York State economic development grants, a strange thing happened – private donations slowed.

“People were under the impression that the project was suddenly flush with cash,” says museum board president
John Adamski.

In fact, contributions are needed now more than ever, he says. Here’s why: Each of the grants from three state agencies comes with a “matching funds” requirement. That means that the museum must raise $1.3 million in private donations in order to access the $2.3 million in state funding.

“Access to state funding is incremental, meaning that we’ll be able to receive nearly $2 for every $1 we raise, as we raise it,” explains Adamski.

Grant funds are being used to redevelop the Branchport Elementary School into a Finger Lakes research and education facility and community center.

You can donate to the Finger Lakes Museum with a credit card by visiting Look for the “Donation” button at the top right of the page, or mail a check to:

The Finger Lakes Museum
PO Box 96
Keuka Park, NY 14478

by John Adamski

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *