The Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks, known as “The Wild Center”, is located on the outskirts of the village of Tupper Lake in the Adirondack Mountains. While this museum is not far from the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, its purpose and focus is completely different. The Adirondack Museum’s central theme is to tell the story of the human history of the Adirondack Park region. The Wild Center was conceived and developed to tell the story of the Adirondacks’ natural history. In this museum, you will learn about the natural resources of the area and the fish and wildlife that thrive there.
The building that houses the museum and its indoor exhibits is a work of art in itself. You can’t help but be impressed when you first see it. Wandering through the exhibits will impress you even more. As you walk through the “Living River Trail”, you will see and learn along the way about a bog, a marsh, a river full of trout, a forest and an alpine summit where you can “touch a cloud”. Probably the most fascinating exhibit along this trail is Otter Falls. This exhibit is a large pool where live otters live and play in a natural setting. This exhibit is simply amazing and draws visitors to watch the acrobatic antics of the otters, especially during feeding time.
The Big Wolf Great Hall houses the glacial ice wall where you can learn about the formation of the Adirondack mountains. And be sure to feel the ice! In this museum, you will not find any “do not touch” signs. Everyone is encouraged to fully experience the exhibits, including what some things feel like. You can also participate in daily animal encounters where you can get to know some of the museum’s live animal collection.
Another section of the museum, called the Find Out Forest, contains a number of high definition media screens where you can choose from a collection of videos on various aspects of the Adirondacks. There is also a theater where special presentations are provided at scheduled times. The Waterside Cafe provides a unique experience where you can enjoy some refreshments while observing the pond that is just outside the windows at eye level.
The grounds of the museum includes trails that can be hiked all year round. You can walk a trail to the banks of the Raquette River. Along the way, you will find lots of interesting information on the flora and fauna of the area.
The New York Conservation Officers Association is a strong supporter of this museum. The Association became a charter member of the museum during its development stages in 1999 with a significant financial donation. It was obvious at that time that this would be a valuable educational institution with a unique perspective and approach. When the museum finally opened in 2006, it far exceeded our expectations. If you have an interest in the natural world that makes up the Adirondack region, we encourage you to make sure you visit this amazing facility. Adults will be surprised with the beauty and architecture of the museum, children will have lots of fun there, and everyone will learn something new and come away with a greater appreciation of the Adirondacks.
For more information on the museum, visit their website at www.wildcenter.org