PLATTSBURGH - If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts is a library for Plattsburgh.
Since 2002, the center has been in possession of nearly 200 photos of people and places around Plattsburgh from throughout the 20th century.
In 2002, a student at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, Derek Beneke-Bove, was working on his senior thesis which focused on pictures of people and places in the area.
"He got a lot of his information from the library at Plattsburgh," explained NCCCA executive director Susan R. Daul. "A lot of the prints were done out of books. Some were donated from people around town."
Daul explained Beneke-Bove donated the photographs to the art center, where they have been stored for the last eight years.
Now that NCCCA has moved into the federal building, across from their old location on Brinkerhoff Street, they have the space to bring out the photographs from Beneke-Bove's research.
"In the other building we didn't have a place to store a permanent collection, visually," said Daul. "So this will go eventually in our community room."
Until it is placed in the permanent collection, the exhibit will be hung in the main gallery of the center, from now until March 5.
The exhibit, titled "Remember When: A Photographic Journey of Plattsburgh in the 1900s," has an estimated 60 photographs which have been identified in some way, including one of Robert "Bobby" Kennedy during a visit to Plattsburgh.
"How many people knew Bobby Kennedy was here?" Daul asked. "There's a picture of him right there."
For as many photos the center was able to find some information about, there are many more Daul is hoping the community can help in identifying.
"We wanted to identify [them] so we could have permanent plaques made so that when we mount this in the community room, we have a permanent recognition of the piece," she explained. "Who's in the piece, what part of town it was in and we can get that finished."
Daul also hopes the collection will get people excited about Plattsburgh's past.
"Older people that will come in here will reminisce," she said. "They'll have stories to go along with all these photos. And those are the kinds of things that we want everybody to remember."
For the younger people who come in to see the collection, Daul said she anticipates them not being able to recognize many of the places in the photos, as they have changed quite a bit in recent years.
"So that will be a learning experience for them," Daul explained. "I'm really excited about it. You have to have part of your history looming so people can talk about it and experience it together."
The current exhibit shows just how much the art center can now offer in their new space.
The old building the art center occupied was about 4,000 square feet with only enough space for one gallery at a time and one room for classes. The new building, located at 23 Brinkerhoff St., has 15,000 square feet, with three floors of classrooms.
"It's fabulous. The ideas are endless," Daul said.
With the new space, she added the center can now consider bringing in traveling exhibits.
Daul explained museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art have traveling exhibitions, which can take years to get and require certain lighting, square footage, and money.
"As you write the grants to get these traveling shows, you [have] to make sure you've got enough space to do it," she said. "And we will have that now."
The center will also receive help from an architect from New York City, who Daul hopes will be coming to the area by the end of the month.
After being one of only two places in the state to receive an award from the New York Multi-Arts Centers Consortium, Daul said the architect, who specializes in galleries and cultural centers, will draw out blueprints of how the center could be better spaced out.
"He will renovate in blueprints so that we can then go for the grants to make the building greener, to make it flow better, to get rid of some of these walls that don't flow well," she explained. "Open up the classroom spaces and artist residencies, get our other fire escape going."
Although NCCCA currently owns the entire building, they aren't able to utilize all of it, because they need to come up to code, which the architect can help with.
As the center becomes settled in the new building, Daul is already anticipating how many more events will be able to take place there.
"While say pottery and dance may be going on downstairs, we've got Kindermusik and art going on upstairs," she said. "We've got some artist in residents that are working on some workshops and some private work somewhere else. So we've got enough space to make all that happen."
For more information regarding NCCCA, visit www.plattsburgharts.org, or call 563-1604.