Visiting Rochester, New York in early November was a treat for a week-long visit to the Finger Lakes region. Rochester’s history offered much to do and see. While I was only able to scratch the surface during my short visit, I had the pleasure of visiting five exciting and inspiring area museums.
The Eastman Museum is located in the residence built by George Eastman in the early 1900s. The museum which opened in 1949, houses the Eastman collection of some twenty-six thousand items, the Technicolor film archive, and exhibit areas;
The David Levinthal exhibit on his career and in the contemporary exhibit area and Gale Albert Halaban’s “Out My Window” is a unique look at neighbors. During the Holiday season, the Eastman sponsors organizations and individuals to create the Sweet Creations Gingerbread displays which are auctioned to raise funds for the museum. One gingerbread house was created by David Levinthal’s wife, Kate Sullivan honoring Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. The thirty-five thousand square foot Eastman residence is a National Historic Landmark and houses the only residential pipe organ in the world. An interesting fact, Eastman enlarged the home by nine feet to achieve better acoustics for the organ.
This is an impressive teaching museum that serves its community and preserves photographic history.
SUSAN B. ANTHONY HOUSE
The National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House is located in the home that Anthony occupied during her lifetime. Ms. Anthony began her work for women’s rights with the temperance movement. She was the mover and shaker in Rochester for both the temperance movement and most notably for the suffragette movement that would ultimately win women the right to vote.
Anthony had a good friend and fellow activist in Frederick Douglas. Together they worked to achieve the 14th amendment. Although Anthony thought the Amendment needed to include women, Douglas knew it was important to do one thing at a time. She was arrested in Rochester in 1872 after registering to vote and then voting in the Presidential election. She was tried, found guilty and fined. Her fine remains unpaid today. Without the struggle of Susan B. Anthony on behalf of women, we would not have the rights we have today. Her story is inspiring and timely today as women around the world continue to fight for their rights.
STRONG MUSEUM OF PLAY
Strong Museum of Play is Rochester’s #1 attraction. I wasn’t sure what to expect at the “museum of play”. What I discovered was toys of all shapes and sizes. The Strong owns and cares for the world’s most comprehensive collection of toys: from Mr. Potato Head to the latest x-box game were represented. Margaret Woodbury Strong founded the museum in 1968. Mrs. Strong was an avid collector of all things.
The mission of the Strong is “to explore play and the ways in which it encourages learning, creativity, and discovery and illuminates cultural history”. The Strong continued its preservation collection in 2002 with the acquisition of the National Toy Hall of Fame and the Toy Industry Association’s Toy Industry Hall of Fame. Quotes adorn the hallways of the Strong: “Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” Diane Ackerman, American Author. The Strong is a natural attraction for children but adults will enjoy it as well if only to rediscover their childhood favorite toys and what it is to ‘play.’
ROCHESTER MUSEUM AND SCIENCE CENTER
At the Rochester Museum and Science Center, I was treated to a personal tour of a portion of the exhibit area by two long-time docents, Diane and Marie. These ladies know the history of the Underground Railroad and its importance in the Absolutist movement. During school visits, they educate the children about empathy and the risks taken by those who used the railroad as well as the role of the Absolutists to the cause. Other exhibits included the Native Peoples of the Americas and Expedition Earth which featured early mammals of the region.
The Museum and Science Center also hosts the Strasenburgh Planetarium.
ROCHESTER MEMORIAL ART MUSEUM
Rochester’s Memorial Art Museum, located just around the corner from the Rochester Museum and Science Center, currently holds in its collection, some twelve thousand works. The current exhibit of Monet’s Waterloo Bridge is a blockbuster hit. This particular exhibit I was excited to see.
I was also struck by the story of The Fabric of Survival which features the embroidered fabric collages of Ester Nisenthal Krintz, who was twelve when the Nazis entered her Polish village. Through the collages, her art is an eyewitness to both tragedy and healing.
The Memorial Art Museum collection offers its visitors pieces from Ancient Greece, Italy, Asia, as well as artworks from the 17th through 20th centuries. The massive Grand Italian Baroque Organ that dominates one wall of the second-floor exhibit hall.
I thoroughly enjoyed viewing the pieces at the Memorial Art Museum. It offered a quiet place to reflect on my travels throughout Rochester.
During my visit to Rochester, I stayed at the Holiday Inn Downtown. The hotel is situated not far from High Falls and the Genoese River. A fine establishment that is well located for visitor and business travelers alike. Walking around the downtown area one morning, I found the impressive Rochester City Hall and one of the statutes of Frederick Douglas near the hotel. Rochester was easy to navigate and its newly renovated airport was a pleasure to fly into even on a midnight flight.
My lunch at Jines Restaurant was a treat. Family run since 1971, it has a large menu and top-notch service. The line of customers waiting to get in was my first indication that the community truly enjoys the restaurant as much as did I.
I dined at Pane Vino on my final night in Rochester. The restaurant was a brief walk over the Genoese River on a brisk night. The Italian restaurant was crowded with patrons who were attending a nearby concert. Finding a seat at the bar, I treated myself to a plate of pasta and a glass of wine after a long day of driving and wrapping up my tour of the area. It was a delicious welcomed end to my delightful Rochester visit.
My thanks to both Rachel Pulvino and Chelsea Metzger at http://www.visitrochester.com/ for arranging such an in-depth and excellent tour of the area. There is so much to discover in Rochester. I hope that I can return to and enjoy more of its rich history.