Transformative Gift Leads to Transformative Change


One of the Finger Lakes leading philanthropists, E. Philip Saunders, ignites transformation for the region. Saunders achieved great success through changing the United States’ travel center industry. He has since expanded his endeavors, venturing into the realms of recreation, tourism, packaged foods, property management and banking. Most recently, an up-and-coming museum bears his name – the Saunders Finger Lakes Museum. A transformational gift by the Saunders Foundation will assist with the ongoing capital project to build out the exhibition hall of the museum, which will officially be known as the Saunders Finger Lakes Museum as of July 1. An updated logo accompanies the name change, with the iconic eagle of the museum’s original logo refreshed and segmented into 11 as a symbolic nod to the 11 lakes of the region. While the updated name and logo are tremendous changes, the museum’s mission remains steadfast and will continue celebrating the cultural and natural history stories of the region.

Located on a stunning 30-acre campus in Branchport along the shores of Keuka Lake, the Saunders Finger Lakes Museum campus is in development. Today, guests to the site can experience: a 16-acre wetland with walking trails, boardwalk, lake views and interpretative signage; a robust paddling program along Sugar Creek located at a restored timber frame barn known as the Creekside Center; a children’s natural playscape; and an outdoor exhibit titled “The 11 Lakes” which shares culture and natural history stories of all the Finger Lakes. Construction of the new main exhibition building will begin after demolition and site prep which is planned for this fall. Those interested in investing in the project can reach Executive Director Natalie Payne at

1 Comment

  • Alice and Don Shardlow says:

    The entire Finger Lakes Region is blessed by gifts like The Saunders Finger Lakes Museum.

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