Arts & Culture in Oneida County: Not Your Average Museums!
Recently, we talked about beating the winter blues in Oneida County. If sporting events and snowshoeing aren’t your thing, we recommend checking out the art scene in Oneida County! And a bonus, these places are great to visit with kids. Here’s a list of some of our favorite local museums!
Wellin Museum (open Tuesday-Sunday) – Located in Clinton, NY, the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art sits on the campus of Hamilton College and is free and open to the public. The Wellin itself is an impressive structure; a massive 30,537-square-foot piece of art. It serves students, faculty and the broader community. Throughout the year, visitors can experience lectures, tours, workshops and events.
Within the museum are two main galleries. The Dietrich Exhibition Gallery hosts two or more major exhibitions a year that include group shows, rotating exhibits and surveys dedicated to single artists. In the Object Study Gallery and the Material Preservation Laboratory, visitors can access two- and three-dimensional works. When you enter the museum, you’ll notice a second-floor lounge area that overlooks the Selch Museum Terrace, an exterior space used for public programs during the fall and summer months. Plus, there’s an open 27-foot-high glass case that acts as visible storage for part of the Wellin’s permanent collection. What I think is awesome about the Wellin is that the layout and architecture are striking in itself (and photogenic!).
Now through June 9, Wellin is hosting Theaters of Fiction, an exhibition that presents work by artists who use a variety of mediums to explore themes of illusion and escapism through the physical space of the theater. Instead of focusing on the actors or audience, these artists look at the space in which it unfolds. Theaters of Fiction features works that address the theater as a literal and metaphorical stage and explore issues such as race, segregation and the exploitation of women. As part of the interactive WellinWorks series, a theater space also accompanies the exhibition and will host courses, pop-up activities and programming.
Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute (MWPAI – open Tuesday-Sunday) – Located in Utica, NY, MWPAI is full of history, art and unique architecture. Munson has a permanent collection that’s free and open to the public and features artists like Jackson Pollock and Thomas Cole. They have rotating exhibitions that have ranged from Monet to Matisse to Wedded Perfection.
Currently on display through April 7 is Tommy Brown: Upstate which looks at a photographer’s study of his home in Central NY. Brown was born in Norwich, NY and after college, he set out exploring the country and Europe. However, he returned to Chenango County because he “liked the peculiar challenge of being a street photographer in a rural setting.” Since the 1980s, Brown has created stunning images of people, farms and landscapes in the region. His photographs are unique because of the way he uses light that changes throughout the seasons.
Also worth checking out at MWPAI are Fountain Elms (free to public), the Terrace Café and the variety of learning programs for children and adults. Fountain Elms is a gorgeous Italianate house attached to the main museum and holds the museum’s decorate arts collection which is comprised of objects collected by the Williams and Proctors during their lifetimes. The Terrace Café is a great spot for lunch with options like DELICOUS soups and sandwiches like pesto grilled cheese. When it gets warm, sit on the terrace and enjoy your meal while taking in the views of the campus. Finally, MWPAI offers concerts, an annual art festival, movie showings and educational programs like art classes and family days!
Utica Children’s Museum (Utica CM) – The Utica Children’s Museum was founded in 1963 (one of the oldest in the country!) and is an interactive destination that promotes learning through play. Located in Utica next to Union Station, they’re a nonprofit organization dedicated to offering an environment that supports a child’s natural curiosity to learn through hands-on, play-based exploration.
Utica CM consists of four floors of fun with exhibits dedicated to subjects like trains, NASA and space, planes and New York history. The museum hosts events and special exhibits. They also offer programming during school breaks so parents can get the kids out of the house to do something fun and productive (while learning)! For example, over February break, each day of the week had a theme and Utica CM partnered with local organizations. Programs ranged from learning sign language and Braille to STEAM/science day with drones and engineering activities.
Utica CM is open Thursday-Sunday and hours range depending on events so always check their hours before visiting!
Rome Art & Community Center (RACC) – The RACC has been around since 1967 and is a multi-arts facility that offers cultural and community programming at little or no cost to the public. When I first visited, I was stunned at how beautiful and unique the architecture of the building was. It’s a gorgeous home with galleries throughout and a sprawling backyard. Even cooler, they rent out the building to the public for special events such as birthday parties and showers!
The RACC has programs throughout the year ranging from visual arts to a concert series to camps dedicated to children. They run a children’s summer day camp called Artletics! that’s for children aged 5-10. The camp combines the creativity of fine arts, the energy of drama and the excitement of athletics. This is an ongoing summer program and kids may participate one week at a time or for the entire summer. Other events for children are held throughout the year on holidays like Easter and Halloween.
Finally, there are events that cater to adults! The RACC hosts artists talks and opening receptions, rotating exhibitions and concerts in the Carriage House. Some upcoming events for 2019 include an Irish Music Party, Sip into Spring (with beer, wine, chocolate & more!), a murder mystery dinner theater and festivals! For the full schedule, click the link above.
Currently, the RACC is open from Tuesday-Friday and will open for special events, appointments, rental consultations or special events.