With Blue Mountain towering above it and Blue Mountain Lake below, the Adirondack Museum’s backdrop is the perfect complement to a place that tells the story of the Adirondack region.
This isn’t a stay-inside-and-look-at-exhibits museum, but one that makes full use of the natural beauty around it.
Even the drive there is part of the experience.
Aug. 14-15: American Mountain Men. Reenactors demonstrate wilderness survival skills commonly used more than 150 years ago, including firearm and bow shooting, tomahawk and knife throwing, fire starting and campfire cooking.
Sept. 12-13: Rustic Furniture Fair. Traditional and contemporary rustic handcrafted furniture, furnishings and Adirondack paintings.
Sept. 19-20: Antiques show and sale. Rustic and woodsy antiques and collectibles including vintage indoor and outdoor furniture, historical fine art, rare books, antique sporting goods, folk art, antique boats, taxidermy, quilts, oriental rugs and Native American jewelry and crafts.
“It’s like driving through a painting on a roller coaster. The roads are curvy, you go uphill and downhill, and everywhere you look, there’s trees and the mountains and the lakes, and then in the fall, the whole thing gets ‘painted,’ ” said Todd Happer, the museum’s marketing director. “And then there’s also the charm of stopping in a little hamlet and going in the little diner and seeing what a nonchain experience could be like.”
Once at the museum, visitors can enjoy the beauty of the Adirondacks by taking a guided walk to a hidden lake, paddling a canoe or exploring outdoor exhibits.
There are inside exhibits too, spread between different buildings on the museum’s 32-acre campus.
Although there is a focus on the history of the Adirondacks, this is not simply a history museum, noted Happer.
“There is a children’s museum component, an art museum component, a science component, a history component, a botanical garden component, even in some cases — not by intention — a zoo component, because we are in the wild and there is an amazing variety of birds here that will just kind of pop down in front of you. We have seen a variety of critters,” he said, naming off a few — wild turkeys, squirrels, chipmunks.
Visitors of all ages can easily spend a whole day at the museum. There’s a cafe with a great view of the lake, a gift shop and Adirondack chairs where you can relax and take in the view. Staffed exhibits give a peek at how crafts such as tanning, logging and rock carving work. There are also plenty of hands-on, kid-friendly exhibits, including a furnished log cabin built at half-scale, a schoolhouse full of activities and kids’ corners at most of the big exhibitions.
This season, the museum has five special exhibitions in addition to the permanent ones — contemporary art from Ellen Phelan, Mohawk baskets, an exploration of the evolution of camping gear, an audio-art installation in the old Log Hotel, and pieces from the studio and amusement park of American theme park pioneer Arto Monaco.
Saturdays through Tuesdays through the end of August, visitors can see Mohawk basketmakers-in-residence weaving. A variety of other artisans-in-residence are at the museum Wednesdays through Saturdays.
Every Thursday through the end of September, Adirondack guide, naturalist and author Ed Kanze will lead walks to a hidden lake, describing flora and fauna along the way.