Official museum fundraising starts nowKEUKA LAKE—The mood was cheerful and jovial at the formal announcement, April 28, for Keuka Lake State Park securing the Finger Lakes Cultural and Natural History Museum.
The selection process took nearly one year. Board President John Adamski welcomed the audience in the ballroom at Esperanza Mansion across from the park commenting, “I had no idea how far the idea would go. A lot of people believed in this, joined forces and made it happen.”
Adamski said it is not just a local project but a Finger Lakes project that will cover all of the Finger Lakes. He stated, “We will have an ambitious fundraising program. We must make it fit the site across the road in the most environmental manner possible.”
Museum board member Don Naetzker spoke about the selection process, commenting, “Most difficult for the selection committee was criteria. This site had a 620 acre state park and the school. One thing the committee liked was the opportunity to take all of this at the north end of the lake. It will be friendly to families, visitors and tourists. It has variety of habitats, It’s so much more than a park. Where do we go from here? Now we start looking at the whole Finger Lakes and at a strategic plan.” Adamski announced Naetzker will be project manager.
The school referred to is the Branchport school less than a mile from the site which is being purchased by the Finger Lakes Visitors Association (FLVA) for the project. Adamski spoke about other features that contributed to selection of the Yates County site. He said, “One thing that tipped the scales was the Finger Lakes Visitors Association purchase of the school. Thanks to Dave Wegman and all. That’s a wonderful generous thing.” David Wegman is President of FLVA
Steve Griffin is CEO of Finger Lakes Economic Development Center in Yates County and during his comments said, “Dave did a ton of work. He worked 150 percent to have it happen here and 100 percent anywhere else.”
Yates County Legislature Chairman Taylor Fitch added, “Wow! Finally! Having it here is a win-win moment. Keuka Lake State Park is the best location and it will give Yates County a great economic boost. As a spokesperson for the county, we welcome Finger Lakes Museum to our Yates County.”
Comments from Finger Lakes State Parks Director Tim Joseph brought laughter from the audience when he said, “Hi! I’m from the state and I’m here to help.” On a more serious note,” Joseph said, “Part of our mission is to educate and inform the public about nature and our history. This is the only museum I can think of where we will do both. This partnership is one that helps us do our mission in a way we couldn’t do ourselves.”
Keuka College President, Dr. Joseph Burke said, “What’s good for Keuka College is good for our neighbors and visa versa. I think it will be a national museum. People from all over are attracted from an environmental basis. Museums and colleges are in the business of educating people. People will understand the richness and diversity that is part of the lakes. Students, historians and others in the sciences and education will appreciate the richness and beauty of our region.”
Adamski said, “A tip of the hat to Dr. Burke. We are looking for a close partnership with the college.”
Following the program, Fitch said Yates County has offered to do the site plan at a cost estimated at about $20,000. The funds will go through the budget process and be decided by the legislature. Fitch said, “I don’t know how quickly it will be needed. The difficult part was getting them here. The hard part is now.” After the April 28 event, Wegman said, “Really, yesterday was Day One. It was a vision until then. Now the real work starts on details.”
The museum web Site states the facility will focus on Native American culture, early colonization and the history of agriculture, viniculture and commerce. Artifacts will range from antique boats to farm equipment. There will be an immense freshwater aquarium containing the fish species native to the Finger Lakes.
Outdoor exhibits will feature specimens of native wildlife in natural settings as well as a special focus on invasive species in the 9,000 square mile region. Each of the 11 Finger Lakes will be featured with geographical, geological, glacial and topographical features detailing the effects of receding glaciers which formed the area 12,000 years ago.