a GREAT Time to Visit
make a mistake in the Empire State!
Besides having some great historic sites
where important events took place, New York also has museums and institutes
that have the mission to get history live
. Visitors are encouraged
to actively participate in demonstrations and workshops. Many of these places
have great programs for children as well as for adults.
Below are our nominees for the best Living Museums
in New York State:
a short description of each of the twelve best musems of living history
in New York State:
1. Old Bethpage Village Restoration:
One genre of living museums is the recreated village of centuries past. Old
Bethpage is a reconstructed village that recreates life in the 19th century
from a Long Island perspective. Some of the buildings, however, date to
the 1700s. There are costumed guides that provide you with information about
the challenge of work in rural America. It's not all work in the Village;
old time baseball is a very popular event there, too. (Visit the village
online at http://www.oldbethpage.org/)
2. Philipsburg Manor: This Dutch estate
in Sleepy Hollow was the home of the Philpse family. Not only do they interpret
Dutch colonial life, but they also emphasize the lives of enslaved Africans
who lived and toiled on that manor for over a century. A special time to
visit Philipsburg is at Pinkster (Pentacost) in mid-May. This holiday was
especially popular with the African-Americans, and they demonstrate the traditions
and entertainment found on Dutch manors of that period.
3. The New York Zoological Park: More
popularly known at the “Bronx Zoo,” it is much more than a collection of
exotic animals. The society is in the forefront of conserving wildlife around
the world. There are many opportunities to see special demonstrations of
endangered species, and workshops for educational groups.
4. Lower East Side Tenement Museum:
In a restored tenement on Orchard Street, not far from the Williamsburg Bridge
stands a living museum for immigrant families of several different cultures
who actually lived there in the early-20th century. When you tour the building,
you will a sense of how they lived in these very crowded conditions. It
is a great complement to Ellis Island. (Their official website is http://www.tenement.org/ ).
5. Hugenot Street: This New Paltz neighborhood
features the oldest continuously inhabited street in the country. This gives
the visitor the opportunity to learn how these French Protestant families
made their livings through many different generations. The tour includes
four different homes, and the guides are very knowledgeable.
6. Farmers’ Museum:
This is one of the nation’s oldest museums
devoted to early life in America. It is located just north of Cooperstown.
Here you will find exhibits on the Homespun Era of New York. The Village
Green houses many authentic buildings with craftspeople demonstrating their
skills. (See the Mohawk Valley Trail for more information
7. Erie Canal Museum:
This little village outside Rome stands at the site where the Erie Canal
was born in 1817. The original Clinton’s Ditch runs through the museum grounds.
You can visit many homes and shops in the village, and you can take a packet
boat ride pulled by horses on the old canal. (See the Mohawk Valley Trail for more information).
8. Fort Ontario: This old fortress
overlooks the mouth of the Oswego River on the shores of Lake Ontario. In
the summer season there are activities going on in the fort, including the
firing of cannons. It is a great place to learn about frontier life during
the French and Indian and the Revolutionary Wars. (Photo below).
9. Ganondagan State Historic Park:
This is the only park in the state devoted primarily to the history of Native
Americans. It stands on the site of a 17th century Seneca village just south
of Victor in Ontario County. You can visit an authentic longhouse, where
native guides will explain daily life of the Seneca people. The best time
to visit is during special events, such as the Green Corn Festival and Pow-Wows.
(Ganondagan is a stop on the Genesee Valley Trail).
10. Genesee Country Village and Museum:
This is another outstanding 19th century village recreated from homes and
buildings moved in from all over the Genesee Valley. There are always demonstrations
going on in village, and visitors can participate in many activities. They
even have a summer program for school children.
11. Corning Glass Center: This is primarily
a museum devoted to the history of glass since early times. However, the
highlight of the visit is the demonstrations on making glass sculptures by
very talented craftspeople. It is located just outside the city of Corning
in the Southern Tier.
12. Fort Ticonderoga: Located on the
shores of Lake Champlain, this venerable fortress guarded New York State
from invasions from Canada for about a century. You must likely will see
French, British, Patriot, and Native American reenactors doing demonstrations,
such as marching drills, cannon-firings, and flag-lowering ceremonies.
to go to see New York Geography
up close and personal.
on the links below!