Life in the Adirondacks

Permanent Exhibition

The 19,000-square-foot Life in the Adirondacks  is a fully immersive, interactive exploration of the Adirondack Park and its people.

This core exhibition will be every visitor’s starting point at the Adirondack Experience and include the following areas:

Wilderness Stories Introduction Theater

A video will introduce visitors to the beauty of the Adirondacks, the strong bonds we all have with the region, and the major themes explored throughout Life in the Adirondacks.

Call of the Wilderness

Here, in the first of five major galleries, visitors will meet a wide variety of individuals, past and present, who have been drawn to the Adirondacks. The exhibition will bring to life the private railroad station and Pullman car with audio soundscapes. Videos will introduce Adirondackers from various periods and the stories of how they came to the region, including Teddy Roosevelt, Clarence Petty, Frank Owen, and Verplanck Colvin, all linked to relevant artifacts.

A Peopled Wilderness

For the first time in the museum’s history, the story of the Mohawk and Abenaki will be explored using artifacts, video interviews, music, and a language learning station. Visitors will encounter contemporary indigenous people, who will help underscore the importance of learning about today’s Mohawk and Abenaki cultures as well as that of the past. A recreated traditional campsite will immerse visitors in the rich traditions and stories of the region’s indigenous people.

Roughing It

Like Peopled Wilderness, “Roughing It” explores a range of ways that people have lived here, whether for a weekend or a lifetime. One of the iconic features of the Adirondacks is the “Great Camps”, which were first built in the 19th century for the wealthy urban vacationers looking for a wilderness experience but with modern comforts. “Roughing It” features the stories of those who came to settle or escape urban plagues like tuberculosis, to carve out homesteads, find a rustic retreat or simply row a boat. The log cabin of Anne LaBastille, an author and naturalist who championed the pioneering life for women is on display.

Adirondack Tough: Working in the Wilderness

Visitors will encounter Adirondackers who work in the great outdoors and learn about the rewards and challenges they have faced, yesterday and today. The Experience, using its rich collection of artifacts related to outdoor occupations, will bring to life the stories of earning a living in the wilderness. An area dedicated to the story of mining will take visitors on an unforgettable journey exploring Adirondack underground iron mines and today’s open-pit mining, which provides the world with valuable minerals for industrial and manufacturing purposes. An interactive activity of breaking up a log jam will allow visitors a first-hand experience of how treacherous a job it was to be an Adirondack lumberjack in the late 19th century. Many other outdoor, Adirondack-specific occupations will be highlighted, such as maple sugaring and ice harvesting.

Our Adirondack Park

Another story that will be explored in detail for the first time will be the history of the Adirondack Park itself, featuring a giant walk-on map of the Adirondacks. People’s impact on the park over time will be highlighted on the map, along with strategies pursued over time to minimize that impact. A multi-screened media experience will give voice to the many different perspectives of people who live, work, and visit here today. Forest management, water quality, and protecting the Adirondack Park today will be addressed through stories of people working in those areas. Before leaving, every visitor will have the opportunity to share a favorite Adirondack memory or story, and add it to those of other visitors.

All photos © 2017 Duncan R. Millar

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