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Get to know the people of Essex County by visiting our award-winning Worked/Wild exhibit. Community discussions gave rise to complex themes and competing agendas about life in the Adirondacks. “Us and Them” dichotomies mixed with shared emotional responses to the land: loneliness and isolation vs. the tourist season hustle and bustle; the richness of nature contrasted with human poverty. This exhibit expresses pride in this place, love of the landscape, and how much the past reflects who the people of Essex County are today. Despite the differing perspectives, residents and visitors alike care deeply for the historic and environmental future.


Adirondack Fire Towers

Take a climb up the most easily accessed fire tower in the Adirondack Park! Our fifty-five-foot fire tower, installed in 1989 from the remains of two authentic Adirondack fire towers that were dismantled, offers one of the best views in town. The accompanying exhibit describes the role fire towers have played in the history of the Adirondacks.  The exhibit combines photos, text, and maps to explain early fire tower history, locations of existing and past fire towers, and current fire tower issues of removal, retention, and restoration. This exhibit has been recently updated and includes a new section on "Fires in the High Peaks," funded, in part, by the Cloudsplitter Foundation, Pearsall Foundation, Lake Champlain Basin Program, and NYSCA

Adirondack Suffragists

This exhibit was installed in 2017 for the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in New York State and focuses on national, state, and regional dimensions of the women's campaign. Though preceded by many western states in state-level action, New York was nonetheless a major national battleground in the fight for women's rights in general and in the struggle for the passage of a national woman's suffrage amendment - one finally ratified in 1920 as the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Beginning in 1848 with the Woman's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, and continuing well into the early 20th century, New York women such as Inez Milholland, from Essex County, led the national "Votes for Women" movement. The exhibit has been recognized by Governor Cuomo as a valuable destination on the NYS Path Through History and has been visited by Senator Gillibrand and Senator Betty Little. The exhibit has had several additions over the years, including sections on Women and the Great War, the Temperance Movement, and the New Woman of the 1920s. The exhibit is sponsored in part by the New York Council for the Humanities, NYSCA, and Senator Betty Little.

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Logging The High Peaks

Lumbering the highest mountains in New York State was a dangerous and precarious job, where everything had to be worked by brute manpower and horses. Deep snows and frigid winter temperatures, mountains over 4000 feet with 45-degree slopes, logging camps high in the mountains dozens of miles away from civilization, and swollen rivers filled with log jams, all made being a lumberjack a tough occupation. This is the story of the people who worked the Adirondack High Peaks bringing timber off the slopes to market. This exhibit is funded in part by NYSCA and the Essex County Arts Council.

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Blue is the Atmospheric Refraction I See You Through

​“Blue is the Atmospheric Refraction I See You Through” by Randi Renate is a sculptural encounter in which two viewers have similar, yet distinct, experiences of climbing twin spiraling staircases that are recessed into a larger dome. The twin staircases require mirrored movement; shared movements trigger mirror neurons, which enhance human empathy. With this acknowledgment, the work grants a sense of belonging, and, even for a brief moment, a sense of unity through a creation of common ground and shared experience. Inspiration for the artwork was specifically drawn from the artist’s first-hand experience traversing the Adirondack mountains in the spring and summer of 2020, coinciding with artistic research on allocentric spatial perspective and atmospheric refraction. The blue color finish of the work is drawn from our expansive atmosphere: seeing from a distance when at the top of a summit; from such heights, the texture translates to color washes. This participatory installation offers a space of encounter—a terrain to see and be seen by others, to recognize and be recognized.


This project is neither a presentation of the museum nor part of our season or programming -  we are simply the venue. This project is made possible, in part, with the funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and administered by the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts.


The artist Randi Renate was born ‘en caul,’ in San Antonio, TX. Her diverse, large-scale architectonic structures agitate an investigation on the somatic and cognitive ways of understanding our embodied being-in-the-world. Randi Renate received a B.F.A. in Studio Art and a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014, moving to Berlin in the spring 2015, where she maintained a studio and artist-run project space, TRACE. Randi Renate is a 2020 M.F.A. graduate from the Sculpture Department at the Yale School of Art.


Hiking in the Adirondack High Peaks

This interactive exhibit explores High Peak’s hiking history and the role that advocacy and hiking groups have played, specifically in the High Peaks region, dating back to the mid-19th Century. It highlights the work of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers, the Adirondack Mountain Club, the Summit Stewards, hiking pioneers, old-time guides, and other historic and contemporary figures, while featuring many of the items in our collection. The exhibit is sponsored by the Adirondack 46ers, Grace Hudowalski Charitable Trust, Cloudsplitter Foundation, J.M. McDonald Foundation, NYSCA, and individual contributions.


Arto Monaco and the Land of Makebelieve

We believe in having a place for young children to play! The Adirondack History Museum possesses a collection of over 500 Arto Monaco/Land of Makebelieve artifacts, many of which are on display in our colorful, multimedia exhibit that highlights the work of this beloved Essex County artist.  The Land of Makebelieve, which was one of his most magnificent creations, opened in 1954 in his hometown of Upper Jay. The park was built to a child-sized scale with over twenty miniature buildings and attractions, including a castle, a riverboat, a train, fairy tale houses, a stagecoach and an entire Old West town. The amusement park was in operation for 25 years, and attracted up to 100,000 visitors annually. Destroyed by a flood in 1979, it was forced to close. Arto Monaco's designs can still be seen in Santa's Workshop, located in Wilmington, and at the Great Escape, located in Lake George. In creating this exhibit space, we have followed Monaco’s dictate that children are meant to play by adding coloring tables, wooden toys, and a dress-up room. This exhibit is sponsored in part by by the Charles Wood Foundation and NYSCA.

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Our longest-running permanent exhibit focuses on classic styles of transportation used in Essex County – from sleds to bikes to carriages, travel through the mountainous Adirondack Park has always presented unique challenges. The display includes our signature 1887 Concord Stagecoach, peddler’s wagon, buckboard wagon, the bobsled “Ironshoes,” two cutter sleighs, piano box bossy, and a hand pumper fire engine!


Community Ties

Community Ties is a series of curiosities we’ve collected over our 75 years of operations. Items tell the stories important to the people who have lived and worked within Essex County. Highlights include a hand press used to print the local paper in Keeseville, a 1920s stage curtain from the Lewis Grange Hall that is beautifully painted with local business logos, and a dental chair used by Manya Gerson in Elizabethtown, who was one of the first female professionals in the county. Many consider the highlight of this room the story of Henry Desbosnys, the last man hanged in Essex County. Artifacts include his artwork and writing, the noose that hung him, and his skull! A new exhibit room is currently being built to update this exhibit - opening next season!

The Adirondack Northway

Like the opening of the Champlain Canal 200 years ago, the construction of the Northway in the late 1960s brought revolutionary change to Essex County and the Adirondack region. Millions of hikers, hunters, fishermen, and cottagers arrived from major population centers in just hours, and thousands of them stayed. The new interstate highway opened up new businesses while destroying local livelihoods as it bypassed old town centers. This temporary exhibit showcases the controversies surrounding building the superhighway, its local and regional highlights, and the long-lasting impact. This exhibit is funded in part by NYSCA and the Essex County Arts Council.

Larry Master: A Lens On Wildlife

The 2024 exhibition in the Rosenberg Gallery showcases the stunning nature photography of Larry Master. Master, a resident of Keene, NY, is a conservation biologist, zoologist, and currently dedicates his time to conservation photography. He has been photographing wildlife and natural history subjects for more than 70 years. He has traveled to the ends of the earth to photograph wild things, from polar bears hunting in Svalbard and Churchill, to birds of paradise strutting in New Guinea, to grizzlies fishing in Alaska’s Katmai National Park, to jaguars crunching caimans in Brazil’s Pantanal, to the curious cheetah that this year climbed onto his safari vehicle in Tanzania. This exhibition focuses on wild creatures of the Adirondacks and reveals the photographer’s artistry in framing a shot and his infinite patience in waiting for the moment. 


The exhibit is curated by Frissie Reed and Larry Master. All photographs are available for sale. A Gallery Celebration is scheduled for July 12th, 5pm - 7pm and Larry Master will be doing a program on July 25th at 7pm on Wildlife Conservation. Sponsored by NYSCA and the Essex County Arts Council.

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