Adirondack Experience Museum’s New Immersive Experiences Connect Visitors to the Landscape and History / by Liz Maurer

Connections form the core of the Adirondack Experience’s new exhibition galleries. Soundscapes, full-body digital interactives, video and cultural artifacts blend to give visitors a sense of the landscape and the generations of people who experienced the Adirondacks before them. Designed by Gallagher & Associates, personal stories connect contemporary visitors to their forebearers. The museum and its designers were inspired by the Adirondack Park and its surrounding region as the natural, economic, and social resource that connects people across generations and to the land itself.

The new exhibits evoke the outdoors while introducing visitors to the panoply of people who lived, worked, and visited the Adirondack region. The galleries provide a fun, active, and educational way for visitors to immerse themselves into the reality of life, work, and recreation in the Adirondacks. The new experience remains true to the museum’s original mission of showing the history of man’s relation to the Adirondacks and their ecology.

 

We remain steadfast in our mission to expand public understanding of Adirondack history and the relationship between people and the Adirondack wilderness— Museum Director David Kahn

Five galleries across 19,000 square feet encourage Adirondack visitors to deepen their appreciation for what's special about the region and to explore how people have lived, worked, traveled, and played in the Adirondacks from the 19th century to today.

Wilderness Stories Introduction Theater

An introductory theater presents the Adirondacks’ beauty, the strong bonds residents have with the region, as well as the major themes explored throughout the exhibits. 

A Peopled Wilderness

People have had a relationship with and an impact on the physical landscape since the earliest Native American settlements. For the first time, the Museum exhibits reach back into pre-history to tell Natives’ stories. Importantly, the exhibit reminds visitors that descendants of the Mohawk and Abenaki remain living in the region and that they are part of a cultural continuum.

A recreated traditional campsite immerses visitors in the rich traditions and stories of the region’s indigenous people. The exhibits include artifacts, video interviews, music, and a language learning station.

Call of the Wilderness

Call of the Wilderness reminds visitors that they are among a long line of men and women who have visited the Adirondacks and experienced its natural wonders. When enjoying recreational activities like camping, hiking, and fishing, they append themselves to a lineage that includes Theodore Roosevelt, Clarence Petty, and Verplanck Colvin. The gallery’s central element is private railroad station and Pullman car that brings stories to life with audio soundscapes. Videos introduce Adirondackers from various periods.

Adirondack Tough: Working in the Wilderness

Contemporary Adirondack residents are part of an extended community of people who have forged a living from the area’s abundant natural resources. While technology has changed, mining, logging, and Adirondack-specific occupations continue to employ residents today.

The exhibits use the latest technology to experience these occupations. An interactive log-jam activity employs projectors and sensors to encourage young visitors to imagine themselves as 19th-century lumberjacks breaking up jams in a virtual river.

Our Adirondack Park

In the final gallery, visitors explore their personal connections to the land itself. They explore how human interaction with the natural landscape has affected the area. Visitors are challenged to think about the costs and benefits of development for both the economy and the ecology. They learn about important research into water quality and the effect of temperature, pollutants, and invasive species.

Visitors explore the impact of human activity within the park through a large-scale, walk on map. They leave with a better understanding of interconnected issues such as forest management, water quality, and the need to protect the Adirondack Park today for future generations. A multi-screened media experience gives voice to the many different perspectives of people who live, work, and visit the park today. Visitors are encouraged to weave themselves into the interconnected continuum of history by sharing share a favorite Adirondack memory or story, adding it to those of other visitors. 

Conclusion

The Adirondack Experience combines the latest digital technology with hands-on experiences to bring the spirit of adventure and natural beauty of the Adirondacks to life. Adirondack Experience, the Museum on Blue Mountain Lake, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, shares the history and culture of the Adirondack region in 24 historic and contemporary buildings on a 121-acre campus in the Central Adirondacks.

We provide a fun, active and educational way for visitors to immerse themselves into the reality of life, work and recreation in the Adirondacks. - Executive Director David Kahn