“A museum is a place where one should lose one’s head.”

Renzo Piano

When I was younger, one of the places we always went to on field trips was the New York State Museum and now that I’ve gotten older, I feel like I take the fact that I live in the CAPITAL of New York for granted. I went to the New York Museum in the first place, to check out the CANstruction exhibit sponsored in part by Price Chopper to benefit the Food Pantries of New York. Since I was already there and it’s been awhile since I’ve wandered through the museum, I figured I’d take a look and I forgot how many interesting things are right in the middle of the Capital District.

I started out at the carousel on the 4th floor.  I can’t even remember the last time I was up here and  I don’t actually know if I’d ever been on this carousel but at that time it was closed so this sadly wasn’t going to be my first time. What was really interesting was the information about where the carousel came from. I had no idea that this carousel was carved by the New York Carousel Manufacturing Company in 1895 but was stationary originally, they didn’t move up and down until 1915. From 1916-1929, the Stadel Brothers Amusement Company set up this carousel in Allegany County and then traveled it around Southern New York and Pennsylvania. In 1933, this carousel found a more permanent home in Olivecrest Park in Allegany County until it closed in1972. Since then, the museum has refurbished the carousel and it now runs as it did at the end of the 19th century.

My first stop in the museum was the September 11th exhibit. I think the last time I went to the museum was right after they started this exhibit and it’s such an emotional area, not something that should be missed. Among the piece of one of the twin towers and one of the fire trucks that was there as the towers went down was this drawing done by students in Japan of a peace tree. Sometimes I forget that even though this event obviously affected our country, it also affected other countries shown by their hopes and well wishes for us.

In connection to that exhibit was a room full of firetrucks throughout history which were very cool to look at that led into other forms of transportation. One of my favorites was the old New York City subway car. Some of the car was sectioned off to show what people would have been wearing during that time but part of it was open so you can imagine yourself back in time riding down 8th Ave on the A train. My favorite exhibit ever since I was a kid was Sesame Street. We have the actual set from Sesame Street in the museum and with it are clips from the famous TV show. Even if your kid is too young to remember this classic show first hand, take a minute and live a childhood dream I know I had and pretend you’re right there with Big Bird!

What I love about the museum is that it lets you learn not only about NYC in its golden age, Sesame Street or the Holocaust but it also has a half of the museum sectioned off so you can learn about the state that you live in. There are exhibits on NYS rocks, gems and quartz where you can see firsthand what kinds of things are found here and where. Something a little more interesting for the kids is the focus on the animals like a stuffed moose, mammoth and deer, or my favorite, the bones of a giant whale. Where else are you going to see something like that locally? There’s also an opportunity to learn about the people who lived here before us and and chance to go into a model of a house they built out of nature and a chance to sit on a replica of a bed to make you appreciate your mattress,  if anything. This is a great place and it’s completely kid friendly.

If you’re looking for a summer camp for the kids, look no further than the museum. The NYS Museum offers their Time Tunnel Summer Camp; session 1 is July 2, 3, 5 & 6 and July 9-13 is Where Are They Now? Extinct & De-Funked, session 2 is July 16-27 is The Glory of Stories and session three is July 30-August 10 is The Best of Time Tunnel’s 25 Years. The camp is open to kids entering 1st grade through 8thgrade and meets weekdays from 9am-4pm. Each session is $400 per child (if postmarked by May 4th) and $450 if postmarked by June 1st or there is the option to purchase all three sessions are $1100 per child (by May 4th) and $1350 (by June 1st).

Instead of spending another day walking around the mall and buying things we know we don’t need, take your kid to the NYS museum! There’s great opportunities when children to learn about things they otherwise may not have know about or, if you’re like me and haven’t been here since middle school, give it another look through and relive some childhood memories and learn things you didn’t know about- perfect for a rainy day!