About The Experience

Visitors enjoy learning about the history of the Adirondacks through the Adirondack Experience’s many exhibits and displays.

Our Mission

While our name has changed from the Adirondack Museum to the Adirondack Experience, our mission remains the same:

The Adirondack Experience expands public understanding of Adirondack history and the relationship between people and the Adirondack wilderness, fostering informed choices for the future.

Our History

Since 1957, the Adirondack Experience (formerly the Adirondack Museum) has shared stories of the people who lived, worked and played in the Adirondack Park. The history of the site on which it sits mirrors the history of the Adirondacks itself: from lumber camp to summer hotel to museum to Experience, the museum’s perch above Blue Mountain Lake embodies the transformation of the Adirondacks from wilderness to mineral and lumber resource to resort community to recreation getaway.

The museum’s story begins in 1867 when Connecticut farmer Miles Talcott Merwin acquired 11,230 acres in the Adirondacks, including most of Blue Mountain. Six years later, Merwin and his son, Miles Tyler Merwin, set out to visit the new property, reaching Glens Falls by train and then hiking for five days through dense forest to reach Blue Mountain Lake. There the Merwins saw an opportunity to set up a lumbering operation, and by the 1870s were logging on Blue Mountain and at nearby Tirrell Pond.

Soon after, the Adirondacks became a popular vacation destination for wealthier urbanites looking to escape city smog. Tyler Merwin put up overnight guests, first in crude rooms in the lumber camp, then in a log “annex.” In 1880, he built a large frame hotel with a broad veranda overlooking the lake. By 1907, Merwin’s Blue Mountain House hotel could accommodate as many as 100 guests.

Built in 1876, the Log Hotel is original to the Adirondack Experience’s site and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Built in 1876, the Log Hotel is original to the Adirondack Experience’s site and is on the National Register of Historic Places.The Blue Mountain House continued as a hotel into the twentieth century, with ownership passing onto William Wessels. Meanwhile, business executive and amateur historian Harold K. Hochschild – who summered with his family at nearby Eagle Nest – was collecting objects and stories in research for his history of the area, Township 34. In 1948, Hochschild and William Wessels formed the Adirondack Historical Association, “a group of men and women interested in the history of the Adirondacks and the preservation of mementos of the past.” Granted a charter by the New York State Legislature the following year, the group made plans to build a museum at Wessels’ Blue Mountain House property.

The Adirondack Museum opened on August 4, 1957. Director Robert Bruce Inverarity described the new museum’s mission as “ecological in nature, showing the history of man’s relation to the Adirondacks.” The first objects collected were from the Blue Mountain Lake area. The exhibits featured the Marion River Carry Railroad engine and passenger car, the steamboat Osprey, a stagecoach, several horse-drawn vehicles, a birch bark canoe and dioramas depicting various aspects of life in the Adirondacks.

Since then, the Adirondack Museum collection has expanded to include artifacts representing community life from all over the Adirondack region. Renamed Adirondack Experience: The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake in 2017, we continue to actively collect, preserve and exhibit objects that were made or used by Adirondackers. These objects are historical records that tell how people live, work, and play on the Adirondack landscape and are mostly donated by local residents who want to preserve and share their family and community history. There are now some 30,000 objects, more than 70,000 photographs, 9,000 books, and 800 collections of original manuscript materials housed and exhibited here — and those numbers continue to grow.

The natural world is “a community to which we all belong,” and nowhere is this more consciously recognized than in the Adirondack Park. The Adirondack Experience continues to bring to life the history of man’s relationship to this landscape so we may make better-informed decisions about the future of this very special place.

Harold K. Hochschild and his Legacy
The Harold K. Hochschild Award

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  • Looking for something to do this weekend? Join us for Made in the Adirondack North Country Fair this Saturday, 7/21!
  • A little Sunday exploration. Tag us in your weekend adventures!
  • Experience the spirit of Adirondack Stories relived. Join us this Monday, 7/16,  for the second installment of our Monday Evening Lecture series, “Adirondack 46ers Centennial Celebration of Clark & the Marshalls First High Peak” with Joe Ryan.
  • Up next in our Summer Camp Series- Camp Riverdale! Camp Riverdale was a summer camp for boys aged nine to eighteen, founded in 1912 by Dr. Frank S. Hackett. It was located on the northern shores of Long Lake and included 350 acres of woodland and the camp buildings. The camp no longer operates today – its buildings were torn down in the 1970s after the land was sold to the State of New York – but we have a large collection of materials from its heyday in the first half of the 20th century.
  • “Fire towers enabled our forebears to literally see the forest through the trees, moving them to comprehend its vast scale, understand its importance, and dedicate themselves to its preservation.“
– Wesley H. Haynes Views From On High

This Saturday, 7/14, #theADKX will host Firetower Fever - a new event celebrating Adirondack and Catskill fire towers and the people who restore and maintain them.

First image: Goodnow firetower. Second image: Whiteface firetower at #theADKX!
  • 📷 @ariencronk
“Oh, there's a mountain that no man has mounted, I'm gonna stand on the peak.”
  • Discover Fluid Acrylic Pour Painting with us this Friday, 7/13! Let the creativity flow during this unique workshop. The ADKX offers workshops throughout the summer - sign up today by clicking the link in our bio and search for workshops!
  • The Adirondack Park Agency, APA, has played, and continues to play, a huge role in the Adirondacks. This Sunday marks the first lecture of our Monday Evening Lecture series with ““A Crisis Looms”: Post-War Affluence, the Regional Planning Revolution, and the Origins of the Adirondack Park Agency” with Phil Terrie at 7:30pm.
  • Many lifelong lovers of the Adirondacks have their first experiences here as children at sleepaway summer camps. Our library has a large collection of yearbooks, brochures, and memorabilia from these idyllic getaways, which we will be sharing weekly over the summer season. Do you have your own memories of summer camp in the Adirondacks? We’d love to hear about them!

Moss Lake Camp:
Moss Lake Camp was an all-girls camp near Big Moose Lake. Started in 1923, the camp placed an emphasis on athletics, and campers learned archery, horseback riding, fencing, riflery, and even classical ballet.

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