The Kent-DeLord House Museum in Plattsburgh is one of many museums participating in the sixth annual Museum Days.
PLATTSBURGH—Since the first Museum Day was held in 2008, the all-day event has grown in both popularity and size.
It all started when Bob Parks, President and Publisher of the Press-Republican, suggested his idea of a day to showcase the region’s many museums.
“I volunteered to contact other museums and see if we could do something as a group.”
The original members of Museum Day were the Battle of Plattsburgh Museum, Champlain Valley Transportation Museum, Kent DeLord House Museum, Clinton County Historical Association and the North Country Historical Association Museum.
As Museum Day became more popular each year, it began to move beyond Plattsburgh and became Museum Days in 2012 so an entire weekend could be dedicated to the free event.
The sixth annual Museum Days, to be held Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2, will include 24 museums, galleries and wineries throughout the North Country.
Participating museums and galleries will be open from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. each day, and will suspend admission fees.
John Krueger, Executive Director of the Kent-Delord House Museum, has seen a lot of young families come because of the free admission.
One year he dressed up as Henry DeLord and Frank Hall, the first and last occupants of the house near the Samuel de Champlain monument, and greeted visitors.
“It’s (Museum Days) a really good thing and the best example of historical parts in the area pulling together for the greater community,” Krueger said.
The Adirondack Coast Cultural Alliance, a committee formed from Museum Days that meets monthly to create brochures and coordinate activities, came up with one of the new attractions last year: a passport.
Visitors can pick one up at any of the museums and then receive a stamp upon visiting the museums featured in the passport.
Once the passport is filled with stamps, they can turn it in for a chance to win prizes at the end of the summer.
Melissa Peck, Director of the Clinton County Historical Association, has seen big increases in visitors.
“Museum Days is a big opening event telling people to come to the museums,” Peck said.
Many of the museums offer different activities geared toward children.
Since 2010, the CCHA has held an archaeological dig called “History of Mysteries” for young enthusiasts.
At the Champlain Valley Transportation Museum, kids have sat in a Homeland Security helicopter and the Sheriff’s Department has given demonstrations on how to properly install a car seat.
“The Clarkson Robotics Team came and did demonstrations,” Lisa LaFountain, Director of the CVTM, added.
Helen Nerska, President of the CCHA and Manager of North Star Underground Railroad Museum, said they had received more than 5,000 visitors in 2012, up from about 4,000 in 2011.
The museum, located near Au Sable Chasm, provides stories on different abolitionists who traveled through the North Country, as well as information-sharing through lectures by specialists.
“Museum Days gets bigger and better every year and as more groups are involved, it should bring attention to local citizens about the special programs that each museum puts on,” Nerska said.
Parks added, “It’s (Museum Days) a good example of how, on virtually no budget, you can create a collaborated event (to show what the community can offer).”