During the past couple of weeks, I visited the Saratoga Automobile Museum in Saratoga Springs and the Empire State Aerosciences Museum in Glenville. They are both outstanding for several reasons including the fact that you can see (and sometimes touch) historical relics and artifacts of sorts; they show how many automobiles and aircraft companies started in New York State; and their personnel include docents who are very knowledgeable and eager to answer questions.
The main feature at the Auto Museum these days is “Bond in Motion,” cars and artifacts from the famous 007 films. They have the car from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) that went underwater. You can get close to the Aston Martin from Casino Royale (2006) that a stunt driver rolled over seven times, reportedly a world record. They have “made in New York” cars and cars that raced at the Watkins Glen International Speedway.
The Aerosciences Museum has several planes on display inside a covered hanger, others outside. Many of the planes are military. A guide will take you inside a retired Air Force C-130 transport plane. There is also a replica of the cockpit of the plane that the New York Air National Guard uses to fly supplies to Antarctica. They have the fuselage from a movie about pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart.
There is a replica of Glenn Curtiss’ plane in which he made the first Albany-to-New York City flight in May 1910. They show how many aircraft manufacturing companies there used to be in New York. There is also an exhibit on General Electric’s aeronautical research and development work, a reminder of that company’s heyday in Schenectady. There is so much to see that you need to allow plenty of time for a visit.
Of course, there are many outstanding history museums in New York State, but these two are exemplary in many ways. History museums seem to be undergoing something of a renaissance these days. They are informative, educational and entertaining at the same time.
A 2021 report by the American Alliance of Museums, Museums and Trust suggested the people enjoys visiting history museum and experiencing history first-hand. The American Association for State and Local History’s National Visitation Report documents the upward swing in visitations.
Museum’s missions and visions are evolving to meet new challenges, and opportunities, for engagement and relevance. A review of the program at the Museum Association of New York’s Annual Conference coming up later this month confirms the vibrancy of New York’s museum community.
Photos: A recent Saratoga Auto Museum Spring Auto Show; and a Grumman F-14 Tomcat outside the Empire State Aerosciences Museum (courtesy the museums).