Established in 1791, the Albany Institute of History & Art has been chronicling artistic expression longer than the Louvre, the Smithsonian, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Visitors acquaint themselves with an eternally revolving set of exhibits, including Hajo: An Artist’s Journey, which documents Hans-Joachim Richard Christoph's work in package design incorporating the bold, stylized graphics of the Berlin school of graphic design. Visitors can sidle up to one of the permanent exhibitions, such as the panoramic landscape art of The Landscape that Defined America: The Hudson River School or the ornamentally preserved remains of Ancient Egypt, an exhibit that spotlights the Nile, the Egyptian concept of afterlife, and ways to reposition a mummy into a hip-hop mummy.
For more than 70 years, the Schenectady Museum & Suits-Bueche Planetarium has showcased innovations from the frontiers of science, technology, engineering, and math for curious minds of all ages. A full calendar of exhibits and live demonstrations facilitates understanding of science fundamentals, introduces visitors to new gadgets, and unearths complex equations mapping Einstein's hairdo from the vast archive of documents and photos. Enacting the museum's mission to provide experiential learning, the interactive exhibit Power Hour engages hands to reveal the earth's invisible forces and drops jaws with inventions such as the bridge of fire, and investigators of all ages conduct lively experiments in the Fetch! Lab, where the scientific method––much like Bob Barker––is kept alive by a vibrant game-show setting. The planetarium pinpoints 8,500 stars and 24 constellations with one of only 12 GOTO Star Machines in the nation, augmenting mechanical illumination with human insight during seasonal sky tours and humorous stories from the Cowboy Astronomer.
The National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame covers everything from the history of dance in Harlem to the innovations of famous dancers. Exhibits containing videos, artifacts, and costumes explore traditional and modern dance from a variety of cultural groups and class backgrounds. To share a passion for dance with the community, the museum also hosts classes through the Lewis A. Swyer School for the Arts.
In the summer of 1850, a moderately successful writer brought his young wife, Lizzie, and their baby, Malcolm, to the town where his father grew up, Berkshire. Seduced by its picturesque countryside, the writer impulsively bought a farm, which would become the family’s home for the next 13 years and the place where he penned a novel that would change the face of American literature: Moby-Dick.
Today, the Berkshire Historical Society maintains the farmhouse where Melville sharpened his quills, gazed out the library window, and drank in the view of Mount Greylock, whose statuesque peak supposedly inspired the elusive white whale that taught Ahab to use his nose as a blowhole. The house was old even then, as it was originally built in the Georgian style back in 1780, acquiring Federal-style details in the 1840s. Careful preservation allows visitors to wander through Melville’s study and gaze upon the fireplace featured in his short story I and My Chimney. They can also observe the piazza that makes an appearance in The Piazza Tales, and see the restored barn where Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne whiled away the hours with deep literary conversation and video games.
In addition to pondering the rooms where Melville lived his days, visitors peruse furniture, portraits, and clothing from the Berkshire Historical Society’s collection of artifacts and enjoy exhibits and events such as plays. Those who make appointments in advance can also immerse themselves in the manuscripts, atlases, oral-history tapes, and photographs that populate the Margaret H. Hall Library and Archives.