Saratoga County

Visitor Center looks at more promotion

The Visitor Center at 297 Broadway wants to do more to promote the seven museums and art venues i

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The Visitor Center at 297 Broadway wants to do more to promote the seven museums and art venues in the city.

“Because of our visibility it’s a perfect fit,” said Lew Benton, the city’s director of parks, open lands and historic preservation.

“We want to give them a higher profile, increase their visitors, increase their revenue stream,” Benton said of the venues, such as the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and the Tang Museum at Skidmore College.

Benton said 47,452 people visited the Visitor Center in 2006, many of them part of bus tours and other tourism-related groups.

But until now the attractions haven’t had such a “high profile” at the Visitor Center and Heritage Area, which is located in the former Drink Hall across Broadway from Congress Park.

A meeting was held in November with representatives of the attractions attending.

Benton, who is Visitor Center administrator, said this meeting generated ideas on ways the center can help circulate information on places like the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center on Lake Avenue and the Saratoga Automobile Museum in the Spa State Park

“There is a potential opportunity for the visitor center to give those venues greater visibility,” Benton said.

One of the ideas is to replace the Visitor Center introduction film called, “Discover Saratoga.” The film was created about a decade ago, before at least two of the city’s museums had opened their doors.

“It needs to be updated,” Benton said about the film. “The landscape [of the city] has changed dramatically.”

Another idea is to have an interactive, touch-screen computer installed at the center that allows visitors to easily access information on the museums and other venues.

Benton said another idea is to a have a rotating exhibit in which each museum or art venue in the city has a month to display its information.

He said such exhibits would be a way for the museum or art venue to reach out and capture the interest of the visitors.

He said visitors often come to the center and ask if there is something to interest their young children. The center can refer them to the Saratoga Children’s Museum.

Or someone will ask center staffers where to get more information on local history. The center can point to the Saratoga Springs History Museum in Congress Park.

“It’s an evolving concept,” Benton said.

Other ideas included working closer with bus tour groups and organizers to help lead visitors to the various attractions.

“The city has become host to an eclectic collection of wonderful museums and fine [arts] and performing arts venues that offer year-round educational and cultural programs for visitors and residents alike,” states a Visitor Center statement about the changes that have occurred in Saratoga Springs over the past decade.

Benton said no follow-up meeting has been scheduled yet to start turning the ideas into action. He expects such a meeting will be held early this year.

The Visitor Center and Heritage Area is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday during the months of December, January, February and March. The center is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week the other eight months of the year.

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