Visitors to the Erie Canal Museum starting this week can enjoy an elaborate new exhibit that turns the main-floor visitors’ center into a fun and interactive journey through history.
The museum celebrated the completion of the museum’s new permanent first-floor exhibit, “The Erie Canal Made New York” after more than ten years of preparation, design and construction.
“We try to keep the space as fresh as we can,” said Executive Director Natalie Stetson. “But this exhibit is something new to see and we hope that it paves the way for a very bright future for the museum.”
The new exhibit uses hands-on exhibits, narrative audio tracks, interactive displays and original artifacts to chronicle the history of the inland waterway that helped shape the United States and made New York City the economic center of the world.
“As downtown continues to grow and flourish, we want to be a part of that, as opposed to just kind of benefiting from it,” Stetson said.
Stetson said the exhibit will take visitors on a journey from the canal’s planning phase through its construction and up to the present barge canal system.
She said engineering breakthroughs were born here because the original construction of the canal was dug almost entirely by hand.
“The whole story is told here,” Stetson said.
The display ends with a large, light-up map that depicts the original canal and many existing canal stops, and the Canalway Heritage Corridor.
Stetson reminded us the Erie Canal is not just a thing of the past.
She said she wants the changes to the museum and the history on display to change the museum’s future.
“We have new different events (and) are doing on Wednesdays on the Weighlock series geared towards really a more millennial population,” Stetson said.
Stetson said they are hoping to reach new audience this way.
The new exhibit cost over $700,000 to complete.