A new exhibit, “From Steamboat Landing to State Park: Public Access in the Finger Lakes,” is now on display at the Geneva Historical Society. The exhibit explores the changing recreational use and development of the Finger Lakes from the early 19th-century to the present, and will be open through the end of 2007.
Over the years Genevans have used Seneca Lake as a transportation route, harbor for canal and steamboats, an industrial site, dumping ground, and recreation space.
Through the decades, visitors have enjoyed the lakes by taking steamboat excursions, owning or renting cottages, joining yacht clubs, or visiting public parks. Today emphasis is placed on the recreational aspects of the lakes and attracting tourists to them, yet the water is also vital to residents, agriculture and other businesses.
All who live within the Finger Lakes’ watersheds affects their quality, and area communities face the challenge of balancing the sometimes-conflicting needs of visitors and residents. This exhibit examines the lakes’ history and environment using family-friendly interactives and images, documents and artifacts.
This exhibit is part of a six-museum collaborative project, “Summer in the Finger Lakes,” which examines the history of summertime leisure on Canandaigua, Cayuga, Keuka, Owasco and Seneca lakes. Each museum is hosting an exhibit that addresses a different aspect of summer in the region.
Other exhibits are:
• “From Sacred to Stereotype and Back Again: Tourist Presentations of Native Americans in the Finger Lakes,” at the Cayuga Museum of History and Art in Auburn;
• “From Toddler to Teenager: Growing Up on Vacation,” at the Chemung Valley History Museum in Elmira;
• “From Lifeguard to Wine Pourer: Summer Work in the Finger Lakes,” at The History Center in Tompkins County in Ithaca;
• “From Camp to Cottage: Finger Lakes Summer Homes” at The Ontario County Historical Society in Canandaigua; and
• “From Lake Trout to Grape Pie: Summer Food in the Finger Lakes,” at the Yates County Genealogical and Historical Society in Penn Yan. Beginning in 2008, the exhibits will begin traveling among the partner organizations for several years.
The project also includes a children’s activity booklet featuring simple activities focused on the themes of the exhibits and a website, Summer in the Finger Lakes. Lectures and other programs related to the exhibits will be offered by individual museums this summer and fall.
For details, call the museum office at (315) 789-5151 or visit the website.
The Geneva Historical Society Museum is in the Prouty-Chew House, 543 S. Main St.; summer hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays in July and August. Admission is free and parking is available on the street or in the Trinity Episcopal Church lot across the street.