Soup simmering over an open hearth,
bread baking in a brick oven, the ringing of a blacksmith's hammer.... These are
but a few of the sights, smells and sounds of early America that welcome me to
Genesee Country Museum, an authentic expression of regional life over 150 years
ago.The museum, comprised of a 19th century village, John L. Wehle Art Gallery
and a Nature Center, is America's third largest living history museum.
Of the 57 historically significant structures, my favorite is the dim, smokey
pioneer log cabin. I'm fascinated by the calico-garbed pioneer woman stirring
the fragrant contents of an iron kettle hung above an open fire on the cabin floor.
How does she manage not to catch her skirt on fire?
This cabin, like
all other village and farm structures, has been moved from its original location
in the Genesee Country, restored and furnished to reflect the history, beauty
and tradition of the Genesee Valley.
Fascinated as I am by the log house,
I feel comfortable at the other extreme-in the elaborate Victorian homes with
their state-of-the-art kitchens and meticulous formal gardens. Like me, you might
try to guess what some of those zany kitchen gadgets accomplished.
a bit more subdued in the John L. Wehle Art Gallery, where French noblemen, English
squires and American huntsmen chase across canvasses depicting action-packed-and
sometimes gory- hunt scenes.
Once I get into an art gallery-which isn't
that often-I like to inspect each piece. The John L. Wehle Art Gallery, with its
western American and African art, works of wildlife artists like Audubon and Tunnicliffe,
and special watercolor gallery, is not a disappointment, even to a layperson.
A genuine treat is the Trotting Horse Gallery, filled with oil paintings,
sculptures and lithographs that recall the pomp and excitement of American trotting
at the turn of the century.
I like to take my family to the Nature Center,
although I have not quite hiked the 175 acres of public nature trails. The 200-acre
wildlife refuge is off limits to two-legged critters.
Large glacial boulders
dot woods and fields, and fossilized rocks litter the ground. A unique collection
of lime-loving plants are found, including chinquapin oak, wild columbine and
I like birds (outside) and have been trying to get bluebirds
into my yard for years. The Nature Center manages 120 bluebird nesting boxes on
museum grounds, and assists in the raising of 50-100 young bluebirds each year.
Special events make each trip to Genesee Country Museum unique. My favorites
are the Morgan Horse Show and the Goat Show. Yes, goats. They're very curious
and affectionate-at least from their side of the fence.
I've been trying
to get to the Civil War Enactment for years...and then there's Bagpipe Weekend...If
you can't accept my opinion that Genesee Country Museum is a many faceted regional
treasure, come see for yourself. Come for the history.
If you go:
Genesee Country Museum, Flint Hill Road, Mumford; 20 miles southwest of Rochester.
585-538-6822. Book stores. Gift shop. Open mid-May-mid-October; 10 a.m.-4 p.m.,
Tuesday-Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday & Sunday in the spring and fall;
10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday, July 4th through Labor Day.
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