The electric toaster collection at miSci includes models dating as far back as 1908, among the first electric toasters ever sold. The museum also is home to electric ranges and refrigerators from the 1920s.
“We’ve got a lot of stuff down in that basement,” said Gina Gould, miSci’s president and curator.
Gould and the museum’s staff hope to soon bring the collection of kitchen equipment – including an 1820s-era waffle iron that belonged to former New York Gov. Joseph Yates – out of the basement and send it out on the road as the first phase of a new traveling exhibit program.
The exhibit, titled Art and Science of Cooking, would launch with a three-month stint at miSci in the fall before going to other museums -- the first of a lineup of miSci-developed exhibits that could bring new revenue to the museum. Gould, who took the helm of the museum in February, said the museum’s archives, which include early technological inventions, are full of items that would be of interest to museums around the country.
The museum is also planning traveling exhibits that focus on the history of communications technology, the science of medical imaging and the story of how scientists measure different things.
MiSci, the Museum of Innovation and Science, on Tuesday announced the new traveling exhibit program, as well as a three-year schedule of exhibits coming to miSci. The latter collections include “Wolf to Woof: The story of Dogs,” “Weather to Climate: Our Changing World,” and a bevy of other exhibits that explore science, technology and art. The museum also plans to maintain its annual train display over the holidays and a butterfly exhibit in the spring.
By rolling out the three-year schedule, Gould said she hopes the museum can more effectively plan for, and communicate about, each exhibit, as well as build partnerships around the collections.
Museum staff are planning to work with Schenectady school district teachers to develop lesson plans and curricula that would connect to the exhibits hosted by the museum, starting as early as this summer.
Schenectady schools Superintendent Larry Spring said working with outside experts in the district’s curriculum-development process can bring fresh insight, as teachers develop learning opportunities for students. Spring said that, by working with the museum, teachers will be able to build visits to the museum into their teaching plans – rather than as one-off field trips that students in some classes get to go on while others don’t.
“Kids learn in museums without somebody standing in front of them lecturing to them,” Spring said of the educational value of such visits. “(The museum) being involved with the curriculum writing will help make that less hit-or-miss and more systematic.”
Through 2021, the museum's exhibits are planned to emphasize student-based collections at the beginning of the calendar year, family-oriented exhibits over the summer and the miSci-developed exhibits in the fall. Gould said the museum has made down payments on the exhibits it has scheduled.
But she also emphasized miSci's ability to bring in down payments of its own, through the traveling exhibits it will send to other museums.
“They are unique globally, because they tell the story of our country’s innovation,” Gould said of the museum’s collection.
Neil Golub, who has contributed financially to the museum over the years, said he was excited for Schenectady’s history and its special artifacts to make the rounds. He also said he was excited the traveling exhibit – which Gould said could visit three museums a year for as long as 10 years – would generate a new source of income for miSci.
“So much of that history is in the archives of this building,” Neil Golub said of early technological advancements that originated in Schenectady.
After the formal announcement of the exhibit schedule, miSci archivist Chris Hunter showed off some of the electric toasters to be featured in the museum’s first traveling exhibit, which will focus on cooking and is scheduled to open at miSci in late-September.
“We have the first stove. We have the first oven. We have the first microwave,” Gould said. “These are really interesting stories about the way we consume food.”
Hunter said he can think of at least a dozen other exhibit ideas to showcase the museum’s archives.
“That’s without scratching the surface,” he said.
miSci's 2019 Exhibitions
Zoom into Nano - A hands-on exhibit that focus on how scientists see and make things that are too small to see with the naked eye.
Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs - The largest traveling exhibit on the history, biology and evolution of dogs.
Art and Science of Cooking - A miSci-developed exhibit that explores the evolution of how humans have cooked and eaten food throughout history.