The New York State Museum is hoping a taste of the Adirondacks in Albany might inspire a visit to see the real thing.
On Saturday the museum hosted its first ever Adirondack Day as a complement to the exhibition of work from historic Adirondack photographer Seneca Ray Stoddard. The events ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and included guided tours of the Stoddard exhibit, lectures and music.
The Stoddard exhibit went up in June and includes more than 100 of his photographs from the last quarter of the 19th century; the state has about five times that in its archives. Stoddard was a Wilton native, traveler and artist and was largely self-taught in photography, according to his biographical information. His work was instrumental in popularizing the Adirondacks at a time when it was becoming a tourism destination and he influenced early efforts to preserve the beauty of the region.
“Putting on this exhibit and then connecting with the region makes perfect sense,” said Robert Bullock, who works in the state Archives and helped organize the event.
He was particularly proud of the partnerships that made Saturday’s presentations possible, with representatives from Fort Ticonderoga, The Wild Center, Adirondack Life Magazine, Great Camp Sagamore and other groups represented. “It’s unprecedented for us,” Bullock said. “All day long it’s been like a three ring circus, with three lectures going on at any given time.”
One of those lectures was by Fort Ticonderoga Curator Christopher Fox, who led a slide show presentation of Stoddard’s work documenting the fort’s ruins and surrounding landscape. His devotion to the subject translated into a warm reception by the more than dozen people watching, who even cracked up a few times during a presentation that most would assume to be very dry.
Bullock said the museum is really benefiting from the expertise of Saturday’s presenters. By giving people a taste of their knowledge and the visuals of Stoddard’s collections, he said they’re hoping people in the Capital Region will then go explore the Adirondacks.
Bullock added that the presentations were more popular than they expected, with some requiring extra chairs to brought in.
On Saturday afternoon a group of Siena College students in an Adirondack Experience class were touring the Stoddard exhibit. “It’s basically the background and history of the Adirondacks,” said Senior Olivia Fay, from Clifton Park.
Fay said having their class and the tour led by someone who was passionate about the Adirondacks have all amped up their own interest. She said the subject matters also sinks in when the presenter cares.
Much of the class already had a connection to the Adirondacks, said Kingston Junior Grace Schneller. They’ve either visited the various museums and historical sites or have done an overnight there.
Fay added that the class has already camped in the Adirondacks.
It wasn’t just classes touring the exhibits either, as many small children roamed the museum and admired wilderness dioramas as their parents followed.
The highly promoted event of the day was a performance from Dan Berggren in the afternoon. He played guitar that echoed the heart of the Adirondacks, which he captures from being steeped in the area’s culture.
The project received financial support from Stewart’s Shops and Paul Smith’s College. The State Museum is open for free from Tuesday through Sunday, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. An online version of the Stoddard exhibit can be found on the state museum’s website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.