A friend and I met up to visit the Albany Institute of History and Art today. Our plans were to view the new Hudson River Panorama exhibit, as well as to hear the featured speaker: Joseph Bruchac's "First Voices of the River: American Indian Stories and Traditions of the Hudson."
- an icebox - quite literally, just a chest-sized wooden box with a metal lining and a fitted lid, used for storing food along with the heavy ice blocks that were sawn from the river in winter, with a hole in the bottom for melted ice to drip out. Since the water dripped down over the food in the box, we also saw old advertisements admonishing housewives to be certain they were buying only the best "sanitary ice."
- a beautiful cast iron parlor stove molded to look like a house in Amsterdam.
- an intricate wooden tabletop stereoscope, which allows one to view two side-by-side images which, when viewed through the lenses, gives the image a 3-D appearance; these images were the main source of news photos for the general public in the mid to late 1800s, before photos could be reproduced in newspapers.
- huge and beautiful family bibles, with scrawled records of births, marriages, and deaths.
- replica birch bark and dugout canoes (the dugout was made by burning the wood in part of a log, and hacking out the ashes).
While walking about, we happened to step into a small "what we're working on" room. In this quiet room, behind a large glass wall, visitors can peer into a vault of artifacts that may appear in an upcoming exhibit. And, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but an OSCAR! A real, genuine, honest-to-goodness Academy Award. It's the first one I've ever seen in person, and it was such a moment for me.
After our tour of the museum, we headed to the lecture hall. Today's speaker, part of the educational lecture series that accentuates the exhibit, was Joseph Bruchac. He is an accomplished author (more than 70 books!) and storyteller, reflecting his Abenaki native American heritage and PhD education in his work. (He and his son made the dugout canoe in the exhibit!)