New exhibit to explore Black history in ADKs

BLUE MOUNTAIN LAKE — In 2025, the Adirondack Experience, the Museum on Blue Mountain Lake, will open a new permanent exhibition: The African American Experience in the Adirondacks.

“It will be the most comprehensive exploration of the stories of African Americans in the region that any museum in the North Country has ever undertaken,” a news release from the museum reads. “For the first time, Adirondack visitors will learn about topics ranging from African Americans’ role in the settlement and development of the region to present-day efforts currently underway to guarantee that African Americans have equal access to the recreational opportunities the region offers.”

The 2,000-square-foot exhibition will highlight the stories of people such as: Roland Brown, a Tuskegee airman from Indian Lake and his father, Dewy Brown, who was the first Black member of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America; Fulton Fryar, the first Black student admitted to the Seagle Music Colony in 1957; and Fred O’Neal, a member of the Temporary Study Commission whose work led to the creation of the Adirondack Park Agency in 1971.

The exhibition will also explore the lives of everyday people: the miners, loggers, hospitality workers and others who helped build the local economy.

The opening of this exhibition represents another step forward in ADKX’s ongoing initiative to reexamine and expand the narratives that have shaped common understandings of the Adirondacks and to shed new light on the experiences of diverse communities in the region. This initiative began in earnest with the opening of a major permanent exhibition on the Mohawk and Abenaki communities, A Peopled Wilderness, in 2017.

“This is an important project not only because it will bring to light a long neglected aspect of the Adirondack story, but as part of a larger effort on the part of many institutions to encourage more diverse visitors to come and enjoy what the region has to offer,” said ADKX Executive Director David Kahn.

As is the case with all of ADKX’s exhibition, the African American Experience in the Adirondacks will include interactive features to engage 21st century audiences. Related school programming for regional schools will also be developed to complement the new exhibition.

“Before the Civil War, the Adirondacks was the site of a sustained effort to secure voting rights for African Americans. This is a story that hasn’t received sufficient attention to date. It will in the planned new exhibition at ADKX,” said Aaron Mair, director of the Adirondack Council’s Forever Adirondacks Campaign.

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office has been asked to provide funding for the $3 million project. Costs involve renovation of gallery space, efforts to engage the public in collecting historical materials for inclusion in the exhibition, and the design and installation of the exhibition.

A project director and community advisory committee will be selected to shape the content of the exhibition.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today