Here are seven museums that helped shape the Saratoga region’s considerable contributions to New York and the United States

If you’re not able to make it to upstate New York this year, but want to plan a trip for some time in 2021, Saratoga’s regional museums ought to be at the top of your list.

A Rich Region Filled with Fun Attractions

From horse racing in Saratoga Springs at the Saratoga Race Course and many of upstate New York’s best restaurants and breweries the Saratoga region has it all. While you are at it, be sure to check out the Albany neighborhood, where you’ll be able to explore more of upstate New York’s amazing history and fascinating sites. Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the top seven museums to check out on your next trip.

National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame

If you are an avid fan of horse racing, or just an interested spectator wanting to learn more about this style of racing and its history, you have come to the right place. The museum is found in the oldest thoroughbred racetrack in America, Saratoga Springs, New York.

The museum debuted in 1951 and moved into a 45,000 square-foot-building in 1955. The museum continues to evolve and in 2020, a new Hall of Fame Education Experience will open to the public. The $20 million project includes a new immersive signature film and state-of-the-art interactive Hall of Fame plaques for all 459 inductees.

The Hyde Collection Art Museum

Being one of the exceptions in the Northeast compared to other major metropolitan area museums, The Hyde Collection has distinguished collections of European and American art. Works included are artists like Rembrandt, Paul Rubens, and Winslow Homer. Today, this art museum now holds and offers different national and international exhibitions as well as a schedule of events that allow guests to experience art in new and innovative ways.

During these trying times, the targeted group of guests are children, and the Hyde Collection Art Museum is now offering virtual workshops to help children 5 and older learn about art from a whole new perspective: virtual workshops. Each session children take part in will help not only encourage them to learn about art and the history, but encourage creativity and challenge them to experiment with art at home.

Shaker Heritage Society

In the town of Albany, you will find the Shaker Heritage Society, home of the first American Shaker settlement. You have the opportunity to visit the original church family site, and learn about many of the inventions and societal influences they’ve made on the country, especially inspiring communities to seek equality among gender and race. Here at the Shaker Heritage Society, you’re encouraged to roam and learn, as well as have fun.

One of the many ways you can learn at the Shaker Heritage Society:

  • Field trips to the heritage center, whether it is through school or an organization.
  • Hiking the trails and exploring an herb garden and the old cemetery where the founder, Ann Lee, is buried and many other early Shakers.
  • Art fairs, come out and explore art from local vendors and even early art from the first Shakers church family.
  • A new educational event that explores societal similarities between critically acclaimed book turned film, The Giver, and how the Shakers prominent influence behind the book’s themes of a perfect society and the need for equality. Students are required to read the book before attending.

The programs held here will bring up new viewpoints to consider right as soon as you leave for the day. The Shaker Heritage Center influences many parts of our life that we were not aware of, and also some of the promising inventions that we have today.

Old Stone Fort Museum

Comprising an old Dutch barn, a law office, an early 1700s home, and n one-room schoolhouse from the 1890s, The Old Stone Fort was protected behind a wooden stockade during the Revolutionary War. Over the last 125 years, the Old Stone Fort has been used as a museum. The museum consists of over 50,000 artifacts, all relating to the history of Schoharie County. Another interesting find here is their history magazine and their genealogy history, tracing back to the original settlement.

If you are a budding genealogist, or curious to see if you can trace your family tree back to the original people who occupied the area, be sure to check their research library, which has many books on families’ heritage of the people that once lived in the area.

Irish American Heritage Museum

As a way to remember their culture, and harbor the stories and traditions of Ireland, and to remind others of their heritage, this nonprofit promotes the importance of Irish Americans who live with customs and stories of times back in Ireland from parents and other family members.

One of the events that is sure to bring the whole family together, and even get your friends excited, is the Irish Sweater Run, which is held every March. Each race, the 5k and 10k, are races that help raise money and support the Irish American Heritage Museum. Fun prizes are provided to all winners of the race.

Burden Iron Works Museum

If you are interested in the history of iron works in upstate New York, the Burden Iron Works Museum is the place to be. With many different exhibitions and learning programs to browse through, you will never grow bored of the fascinating history of some of the greatest inventions to come out of U.S. history.

Come join us today in learning about some of the most interesting processes on modern day iron objects, and how some things like the replacement of the Liberty Bell.

American Italian Museum and Cultural Center

As a way to best preserve Italian American history, a group of professors from Syracuse University came together to establish the American Italian Heritage Association. Since the cultural center first opened, it has undergone various renovations to make each area safe for all visitors that come and visit.

Taking a visit to upstate New York will be the best decision you will make in the new year. With so much culture and history to go around, you won’t be missing out on any of the fun, excitement, and learning opportunities at these seven best Saratoga museums and heritage societies.

By Brandie Lorenzen