Step back in time, explore interesting exhibits and artifacts
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Step back in time, explore interesting exhibits and artifacts and learn about the region through visiting area museums.
Oswego’s Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum (http://safehavenmuseum.com) chronicles the housing of 982 World War II refugees at Fort Ontario as President Roosevelt’s “guests” from August 1944 until February 1946. Read about their challenges and their eventual relocation after the war ended.
Discover the region’s rural heritage at Auburn’s Ward W. O’Hara Agricultural & Country Museum (http://wardwoharaagriculturalmuseum.org). The museum includes numerous displays of equipment and tools, along with dioramas depicting rural life of yesteryear, all organized into themed rooms.
Also in Auburn, check out the homes of two remarkable Americans, Seward House Historic Museum (https://sewardhouse.org) and Harriet Tubman National Historic Park (www.harriettubmanhome.com). The former was a New York state senator, governor of New York, a US senator, and secretary of state in the Lincoln and Andrew Johnson administrations. The latter led hundreds of freedom seekers from the South at the risk of her own life during the Civil War.
In Syracuse, the Daniel Parrish Witter Agricultural Museum at the New York State Fairgrounds (www.nysagsociety.org/witter-agricultural-museum) is open when the fair operates and otherwise by appointment. During the fair, demonstrators show how farmstead owners carved wood, churned butter, repaired tools and used other skills to support their livelihood. View a reconstructed log cabin inside, along with numerous artifacts of 1800s and early 1900s farm life.
Click your red heels together and visit the All Things Oz Museum (www.allthingsoz.org) in Chittenango. Author L. Frank Baum, whose writings included “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, was born in Chittenango. The museum includes more than 15,000 pieces with between 1,200 and 1,400 on exhibit at any time, including original props and costumes from “The Wizard of Oz” productions, Judy Garland’s autograph, 1939 MGM munchkin actor appearance costumes, and more Oz artifacts.
Laugh it up at Jamestown’s Lucy Desi Museum and Desilu Studios (https://lucy-desi.com). Few people realize that everyone’s comedienne lived in Celeron while growing up. She was also buried at Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown. Celebrate the First Lady of comedy and her husband, Desi Arnaz, while viewing artifacts from their life and careers. Check the website for information on dual admission to the National Comedy Center, ranked by Conde Nast Traveler as “one of the best museums in the country.”
The National Memorial Day Museum (https://wlhs-ny.com/national-memorial-day-museum/) in Waterloo commemorates the official birthplace of Memorial Day, as recognized by Congress. Open Memorial Day (of course) through Labor Day, peruse the museum’s displays to learn about the day’s solemn purpose and origins.
If you love the water, visit Clayton’s Antique Boat Museum (https://www.abm.org). In addition to the 320 boat exhibits of boats of every shape and size, the 4.5-acre campus hosts boating events summer through fall.
Five interesting museums in Wayne County include the Brick Church Museum, Mill Museum and Blockhouse (http://galenhistoricalsociety.org/church.htm) in Clyde, H. G. Hotchkiss Essential Oil Museum (also known as the “Peppermint Museum”) in Lyons (https://lyonsheritagesociety.org), and Hoffman Clock Museum (http://www.hoffmanclockmuseum.org) in Newark. These are small enough to visit all in one day. The Hoffman is inside of the Newark Public Library and is open for self-guided tours whenever the library is open. Unless one knows to look for it, it’s easy to walk right past it and not step inside to see dozens of everyday clocks on most grandparents’ mantels to rare clocks viewed by visitors from around the world. The Hotchkiss showcases Lyons’ historic distinction as the peppermint capital of the world. The minty gift shop is worth a visit. The Brick Church Museum houses artifacts from Clyde’s history of glassmaking as well as the town’s other industries. The Mill Museum is more of a general, daily life museum of life in the 1800s through early 1900s. Though a 1975 replica of the circa 1758 fort, the Blockhouse features authentic artifacts from the original fort’s era.
Keep in mind that these museums may have different hours because of the pandemic. Check their website and/or social media page while planning a visit.
Photo: Ward W. O’Hara Agricultural & Country Museum includes numerous displays depicting rural life of yesteryear, all organized into themed rooms.