Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Museums of Buffalo and Corning New York

At the end of my trip along the Erie Canal I had the chance to spend some time exploring Buffalo, New York, and to stop at the Corning Museum of Glass, in corning New York. I had not visited Buffalo in about 45 years, and I was impressed with some of the things I got to see.

Albright-Knox Gallery

By Danielle Sauers (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I started my day in Buffalo with a visit to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Located across from the entrance of Buffalo State College, and alongside the Fredrick Law Olmsted designed Delaware Park, Albright-Knox’s classical and modern buildings are a beautiful home to its collection of Modern and Contemporary Art. Its original building was built in 1905 as the home to the collection of modern art owned by John J. Albright, a Buffalo industrialist whose businesses included coal, asphalt and electrical power. In 1962 Seymour Knox II, chairman of the Marine Midland Bank and Woolworth’s & Co. organized the funding for an expansion of the gallery. He donated over 700 pieces of art, and the name was changed to The Albright Knox Art Gallery. His interest was mostly in Modernism and Abstractionism, and he greatly added pieces in those genres to the galleries’ collections.

John J Albright by Edmund C. Tarbell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Today the Gallery hosts an excellent collection of 20th and 21st Century art, mostly on display in the building built in 1962. The original building houses galleries that are primarily used to host temporary exhibits by artists alive today.

Detail from Someday We Can by Shantell Martin

Along the Niagara River

The heart of Buffalo’s history is its role in shipping and transportation. It sits at the head of the Niagara River, along the shore of Lake Erie. It was the western terminus of the original Erie Canal, so it became the place where goods were transferred between lake ships and canal barges. It also became an industrial center because it is so close to the Niagara Falls, where Thomas Edison built one of the first large hydroelectric generating plants. By the late 1950’s things started to change. The St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1957, and ocean going ships were able to sail directly into the Great Lakes. The Erie Canal was no longer needed to ship goods to and from the Mid-West. During the 1960’s industry started to leave what is today called the “Rust Belt” for other places. Buffalo became one of the poorest cities in the country.

Today Buffalo is trying to revitalize itself. This effort includes the development of its waterfront, much of which had been cut off from the city by highways. The most successful of these attempts is Canalside Park, which sits under the Buffalo Skyway at Lloyd Street. Built along what was the western end of the original Erie Canal. Canalside includes lakeside walking and biking trails, kayak and boat rentals, and a ferry across the Buffalo River to the Times Beach Nature Preserve. There is also the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park. The Park is home to the guided missile cruiser U.S.S. Little Rock, the destroyer U.S.S. The Sullivans, and the U.S.S. Croaker, a Gato-class submarine. All are open to the public. There is also a naval history museum and a very good restaurant – The Liberty Hound, which has an excellent selection of beer on tap.  


Frank Lloyd Wright Boathouse

Two-and-a-half miles north of Canalside, along the Black Rock Canal, is a small, little known gem – a boathouse designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Designed in 1905, the boathouse wasn’t constructed until 2007. I sits just south of the Peace Bridge, the major crossing between Canada and Buffalo. There is also a path up to a pavilion that sits just below the bridge, with great views up and down the Niagara River.

The Corning Museum of Glass – Corning NY

By User:Stilfehler (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Home to both the history and future of all things glass, The Corning Museum of Glass is really a must see stop if you are traveling along the Southern Tier of New York State. Presenting both industrial and artistic uses and histories, its exhibits and galleries are informative and beautiful. There are exhibits into the history of industrial glass that cover its different uses and strengths. You can watch artists creating glass vases and bowls and doing fine “fire work” to make detailed statues. You can take classes in glass blowing, and even design a piece that the artisans will create for you. The galleries contain some of the most beautiful examples of glass as art in the world. 

Glass Blowing Demo

Nocturne 5 by Karen LaMonte

Chess Set by Gianni Tosso Jews vs Catholics - I saw this set for sale when I visited Venice 20 years ago

Getting There:

Albright-Knox Art Gallery – 1285 Elmwood Ave. Buffalo NY. Entry -$12 for Adults, $8 for seniors, veterans, students and youths.

Canalside Buffalo – 44 Prime Street, Buffalo NY. Interstate 190 to Elm Street (exit 6); or Skyway/Route 5 to Seneca Street; or NAFTA Metro Rail to the Erie Canal Harbor Station.

Wright Boathouse – Take Porter Ave west. Pass the entrance to the Peace Bridge, and cross over I-190. Turn right onto Rotary Row, and gravel street that looks like an alley. Bear right at the fork and you will arrive at the parking lot for the Westside Rowing Club and the Wright Boathouse.

Corning Museum of Glass – Take Route NY-17(I-86) to exit 46. Follow the signs to the Museum. Adults $19.50, Students, seniors, AAA, and military $16.50.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Visit some small museums in New York State

Arkell Museum by Bakrell1 vis Wikicommons

While driving across New York following the Erie Canal, I had the opportunity to stop at some of the smaller museums that are often missed by tourists. This is one of favorite things about taking a road trip, getting to see the places that many people just drive right by. These are often hidden gems of art or pieces of history that are not well known.

Arkell Museum - Canajoharie NY

Bakrell1 at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

 The first time I stopped in Canajoharie to see this collection, it was almost twenty years ago. At that time it was housed in a room in the back of the Canajoharie library. Today, The Arkell Museum houses not just its permanent collection, but two more galleries with rotating exhibits, often of local artists.

Bartlett Arkell, Beech-Nut President,,Canajoharie, c.1925
Photograph, 1996.1.108 via arkellmuseum.org

The collection was started by Bartlett Arkell, the founder and first president of the Beech-Nut Food Packing Company. He collect mostly works by American artists. Arkell was concerned about the lives of the workers in his factory, so Beech-Nut was one of the first companies to provide a healthy lunch and cafeteria for it workers, complete with live music played in the room. They organized sports leagues and outdoor leisure activities. Arkell also made his collection of artwork available to the town by building a gallery space in the public library, where everyone could enjoy it.

Today, the Arkell Museum’s permanent collection includes a thorough collection of American works, including twenty one paintings by Winslow Homer and several bronze statues by Remington. There is also a full size reproduction of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. The museum also houses a collection of Mohawk Valley history and a history of the Beech-Nut Corporation. Its rotating exhibitions feature New York State artists many from the Mohawk Valley.

Fort Stanwix – Rome NY


Offical Website - http://www.nps.gov/fost/
 The city of Rome, New York is 110 miles east of Albany. It sits at a point that was very important 300 years ago. It was a key portage site for anyone traveling by canoe between the Wood Creek, which leads to Lake Ontario and the Mohawk River, which leads to the Hudson River. This made it a strategically important place, and in 1763, the British built Fort Stanwix to guard and control the portage.



By the start of the Revolutionary War the fort was mostly unused. American troops rebuilt it and placed a garrison in it. On August 3, 1777 a force of about 1500 British, German, Canadian and American Indian forces led by Lt. Col. Barry St. Leger laid siege to the fort. The British forces had come from Ontario in hopes to join with Gen. Burgoyne in his campaign to capture the northern colonies. In the fort were about 800 New York and Massachusetts troops, led by Col. Peter Gansevoort.  On Aug. 6 1777 a force of 800 American troops, led by Gen. Nicholas Herkimer advanced on the fort in an attempt to end the siege. These troops were ambushed about six miles from Fort Stanwix, by British and Indian forces in the Battle of Oriskiny, which was the bloodiest battle of the Revolutionary War. While the battle was progressing, troops from Fort Stanwix carried out a raid on the British and Indian camp taking many of their supplies and destroying their tents. This caused the British and Indian fighters to break off their attack and return to the camp, but in a greatly weakened position. While the siege continued until Aug. 21, the British forces were never able to advance beyond this point and never joined up with Gen. Burgoyne. This left a much smaller force to attack Fort Ticonderoga and the British were unable to defeat the American forces in the north.  

Fort Stanwix was abandoned and burnt down in 1781. In 1978 it was rebuilt by the National Park Service. Today the fort, which sits in the center of Rome, is a tribute to the town’s history. It has an excellent visitor’s center that covers this period with films and interactive displays.

Erie Canal Discovery Center – Lockport NY

There are many historical and cultural centers along the Erie Canal, but one of the best is the Erie Canal Discovery Center in Lockport. This museum has many exhibits on the history of the canal, but the best is a simulated trip through the Flight of Five locks, built in Lockport as part of the original Erie Canal. It is worth the stop.

Getting There:

Arkell Museum – 2 Erie Blvd. Canajoharie NY. Take the NYS Thruway to Exit 29. Turn right onto Main Street. In town, turn right onto Mill Street, go one block and turn left onto Erie Blvd.

Fort Stanwix – 100 N. James Street, Rome NY. The Visitor’s Center sits at the corner of Erie Blvd West (NY-46) and South James Street.

Erie Canal Discovery Center – 24 Church Street, Lockport NY. From the East or West, take NY-31 into town. Turn north onto Transit Street (NY-78) and then make a right onto Ontario Street. There is a parking lot there for the Discovery Center and the Canal Locks.