A free, educational and entertaining experience awaits anyone looking to spend a day learning about local history. This Saturday is Museum Day 2009, and museums affiliated with the Smithsonian network will be offering free admission with a coupon that can be found online.
The Fenton History Center and the Roger Troy Peterson Institute are two local museums participating in the program, and both have special exhibits to welcome visitors. To print off a ticket for free admittance to either museum, find the Museum Day link on www.smithsonianmag.com.
FENTON HISTORY CENTER
The “Blue and Gray” exhibit will be one of the attractions during Museum Day 2009 at the Fenton History Center.
Museum Day falls at a perfect time for visitors of the Fenton History Center, when a couple new exhibits and shows will be on display.
The Center will be hosting "Blue and Gray 2009," a live Civil War re-enactment on Saturday. Soldiers from the 9th Cavalry will be camping at the museum's grounds, giving visitors a unique opportunity to learn more about the troops up close. They will be available throughout the day.
In conjunction with the re-enactment, there will be a special two-day exhibit called "Hoop Dreams." It will take a deeper look into the history of women's clothing during the mid-19th and early 20th century and how fashion is influenced by society. There will be a talk by Diane Gallinger, a costume curator, on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Center before the exhibit opens on Friday and Saturday.
In addition to these special presentations, the Center also has its usual exhibits, including the recently opened "Intersections: the Underground Railroad in Chautauqua County" and the 2009 summer exhibit "In the Mood," which looks into big dance bands of the 1930s and '40s.
Although the regular admission to the Center is only $5, museum director Joni Blackman explained it still deters people from visiting.
"That's one of the barriers that keep people from coming in," she said about the admission price. "People get the idea that museums are stuffy and boring. We are trying to get more interactive and interesting."
The Fenton History Center, located at 67 Washington St., will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
The Roger Tory Peterson Institute will welcome Museum Day by opening a new exhibit called "Mapping the Birds of New York: The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State." The exhibit will answer questions people may have about birds in the area.
"One thing that people know us for is birds," said Linda Pierce, development associate at the Institute. "This exhibit has to do with birds - especially the birds of New York state. People have a lot of questions about why a bird is no longer around. This exhibit will tell you about that kind of thing."
There are also models of birds and information from two surveys conducted from 1980 to 1985 and 2000 to 2005 about all the species that call New York home. The exhibit will be at the museum through early 2010.
The Institute will have its traditional exhibits as well, offering nature education in an entertaining way. With its inviting outdoor atmosphere, spending time at the Institute is a perfect way to enjoy an autumn day.
"You can have a picnic lunch outside, we have a couple places where you can do that," Ms. Pierce said. "We have a few trails you can walk, too. You can really make an afternoon out of it."
The Institute, located at 311 Curtis St., is open on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.