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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  • Today we’re throwing it back to opening day in 1957! Tomorrow at 10am the museum will open its’ doors for Opening Day, 61 years later. We hope you will be joining us!
  • A morning view of Lake Abenaki. What do your weekend views look like? Tag us in your photos for a chance to be featured on our page!
  • Exhibit spotlight: Adirondack Tough: Working in the Wilderness. This exhibit is part of the new 19,000 square foot exhibition, “Life in the Adirondacks” and gives you the opportunity to experience what it was like to work in the rugged outdoors. A main feature is testing your hand at breaking up a log jam, as shown in the photo. Visit us this summer and try it out! Opening 5/25
  • Happy birthday to Harold K. Hochschild, founder of the Adirondack Experience. Harold had a love for Adirondack history and brought a vision of sharing the Park’s history to life. 
Second photo: Three men in an automobile at Eagle Nest, August 1906. From left to right: Harold K. Hochschild, Howard Scholle, and Norman Scholle, in Norman's Winton auto.
  • “Adirondack Tough: Working in the WIlderness” is one of the many exhibits within the 19,000 square foot exhibition, “Life in the Adirondacks.” Come and explore Adirondack underground iron mines and today’s open pit mining this season! Mining provides the world with valuable minerals for industrial and manufacturing purposes. Click the link in our bio for more info.
  • Last year the ADKX acquired this piece of Adirondack history. Come see it on display in our new exhibition “Life in the Adirondacks”. (We’re also working on another iconic piece to display just in time for opening day.)
  • Happy Mother’s Day! We hope you’re sharing laughs with loved ones today. Photo from between 1915 and 1918.
  • Untitled: Camping Party by Arthur Parton, oil on board, 1871. Parton first visited the Adirondacks in 1866 and then made regular summer visits to Keene Valley and the Ausable Lakes until he bought a cottage in the Catskills around 1880. The Adirondacks and the Catskills provided many subjects for him.
  • “BIG NEWS: Did you know the first ever United States Quadrathlon will be held in Indian Lake, NY?!” Check out the link in @indianlakeadk bio for more info. 📸:@nicholascala #indianlakeny #pureadk #dotheq #repost

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