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Finger Lakes Museum project gets state charter

What started out as a dream is on its way toward reality now that the Board of Regents of the New York State Education Department awarded a museum charter to the Finger Lakes Cultural & Natural History Museum Project—less than 10 months after organizers held their first meeting last July.The venture is an initiative to create a world-class educational institution to showcase the cultural heritage and natural history of the 9,000 square-mile Finger Lakes Region. The museum charter paves the way for the formation of a not-for-profit corporation and the launch of a fundraising campaign.The project is being modeled after the combined aspects of the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake and The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Board of Trustees president, John Adamski, said, “We wouldn’t have come this far so fast without the help and guidance so generously provided by our friends at both of those institutions.”He said this project is unique in that it combines heritage with ecology and will interpret the historical impacts of human interactions between the two. Caroline Welsh, director of the Adirondack Museum, said, “Because it is so unique, the Finger Lakes Region is the perfect venue for a museum like this.”Exhibits are planned to include an immense freshwater aquarium shaped like a typical Finger Lake that visitors will be able to walk through to view native fish species, and a display that will show the 11 Finger Lakes being formed by a melting glacier.Other exhibits will examine Native American and Mennonite culture, early colonization, and the histories of agriculture, viticulture, and commerce. Outdoor exhibits and a trail system will feature live specimens of native wildlife like bald eagles, beavers, otters, black bears, and the legendary Seneca White Deer in natural settings.Special focus will be given to invasive species such as lamprey eels, purple loosestrife, and zebra mussels, and will illustrate their effects on native habitats. A 40,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art, eco-friendly museum building is being planned to become a world-class tourist attraction. The price tag is estimated to be $40 to $50 million. A five-year strategic plan has been written and implemented to guide things along. On June 25th, the Finger Lakes Museum Board of Trustees is hosting an invitation-only event at the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua to celebrate the award of their charter and to launch a search for a location on which to build. Sixteen different sites have already been proposed by six Finger Lakes counties in an effort to attract the project. Those sites will be publicly announced at the event, which is being catered by the wine and culinary center, Wegmans, and a number of Finger Lakes wineries as their contributions to the effort.For more information or to make contact, see www.fingerlakesmuseum.org.

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