By Mary Heyl
If you’ve always watched the Presidential Inauguration on television at home, consider giving your family a whole new experience of this historic event! The Buffalo History Museum invites you to commemorate the swearing-in ceremony this Friday at the Inauguration History Event. This free all-day event includes a live-stream of the inauguration, followed by a coffee reception and free tours of the museum, as well as free children’s activities. This is the perfect opportunity to explore the many exhibits of the Buffalo History Museum, which celebrates Buffalo’s unique place in Western New York history and American history.
Simply walking through the doors of the museum is a historical experience, for the museum building itself is the largest artifact that visitors will encounter. The Buffalo History Museum was founded in 1862 by an inspired group of individuals whose primary mission was to share the region’s unique collection of paintings, photographs, and artifacts. As the organization grew, the need for a larger facility became apparent, and the opportunity presented itself in 1901.
Buffalo beat out Niagara Falls to host the Pan-American Exposition, a World’s Fair held there from May 1 through Nov. 2, 1901. The famous fair featured all kinds of new inventions and attractions like the x-ray machine, mechanical rides, a stadium, and a stage for musical performances. On the land that is now Delaware Park, 12 different buildings were constructed to house the fair’s exhibits. While most of these buildings were temporary structures that were demolished at the end of the fair before winter, the New York State Building was the only permanent structure.
Designed by George Cary, whose later work included Buffalo General Hospital and the University at Buffalo buildings, the New York State Building is known for its impressive pillars, as Cary modeled it after the Parthenon in Athens.
Today, the museum is home to over 100,000 physical objects, 200,000 photographs, and 20,000 books that chronicle Western New York’s story. Visitors will enjoy the museum’s nine exhibits, which include the world’s largest Buffalo Bills football memorabilia collection.
The museum is excited to share the “Inside Tim Russert’s Office: If it’s Sunday, it’s ‘Meet the Press’” exhibit about the late NBC newsman and Buffalo native. For several years, this exhibit was on display at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., and the museum is pleased to have the exhibit, which is a recreation of Russert’s office, back in his hometown.
Those interested in the history of the region will appreciate the museum’s many exhibits that highlight Western New York’s heritage. The John R. Oishei Native American Gallery is one of the museum’s permanent exhibits that honors Western New York’s first inhabitants. The exhibit features a walk-in longhouse, an impressive headdress display, and Seneca Orator Red Jacket’s famous peace medal. “Neighbors: The People of Erie County” recognizes Buffalo’s rich ethnic heritage through artifacts and stories of immigrant Germans, Poles, Italians, African Americans, Irish, and many more.
The Train Gallery is a true marvel, as it features 1900s replica model trains running on more than 200 feet of track, an Erie Canal lock (built to scale), and 100 miniature buildings that portray the city of Buffalo during the turn of the 20th century.
There are lots of great events to look forward to at the museum this winter. The M&T Bank Third Fridays, which include this Friday’s Inauguration History Event, offer free admission on the third Friday of every month.
On Jan. 25 at 6 p.m., Dr. Phil Stokes, director of Penn Dixie, will be presenting “She Sells Sea Shells: The Story of Mary Anning’s Fossils.”
Save the date for President Lincoln’s Birthday Celebration, the longest running in the nation, on Feb. 12 at 12:30 p.m. Bring your family for this program, which includes a Lincoln orator, uniformed reenactors, and birthday cake, of course.
The Buffalo History Museum is located at 1 Museum Court and free parking is available. The museum is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. (closed on Mondays). For more information, visit www.buffalohistory.org or call (716)873-9644. For upcoming events and photos, check out The Buffalo History Museum on Facebook.