The Adirondacks are unique in many ways, not the least of which is the kinds of museums that emerge there. In 1957, the Adirondack Museum first opened at Blue Mountain Lake, graced with a spectacular vantage point on the lake below, and a mission to provide the narrative history of the Adirondacks through its art and artifacts.
In July of 2006, the Wild Center opened in Tupper Lake, with innovative design and exhibits that integrate the science and beauty of nature in one place. The Wild Center, billed as the “natural history museum of the Adirondacks” has been extremely successful since opening, and continues to add exciting new exhibits each year.
And in a truly inspiring stroke of recent good fortune (or maybe just good karma), these two museums were each bequested $2.4M from the estate of the late LiLinda Kent Vaughan, a member of both museums, and a long-time summer resident of Long Lake. Coming at a time when many museum funding sources have run dry, these generous gifts present an especially welcome and much-needed boost to the museums’ futures.
Dr. Vaughan was a Professor Emerita of the Department of Physical Education and Athletics at Wellesley College in Wellesley Ma, where she had led the department from 1973 to 1990 as chairperson and director. She held both B.S. and M.A. degrees from Russell Sage College, where she received the Aldrich Award for Proficiency in Sports. and received her Ph.D. in Physical Education from Ohio State University.
Throughout her distinguished career, Dr. Vaughan wrote numerous papers in her main field of sports psychology, and in 1970 co-authored the book (with Richard Hale Stratton) Canoeing and Sailing, a second version of which was published In 1985. Her appreciation for the wildlife in the Adirondacks and her love of the sporting opportunities also led her to develop an understanding of the environmental issues in the region.
An avid photographer in her spare time, Dr. Vaughan traveled extensively throughout the world photographing nature, and held a one-woman show at the Blue Mountain Center of wildlife captured on trips to Africa, Alaska and Antarctica. In a fitting culmination to her many lifetime accomplishments, the work of Dr. Vaughan lives on through the legacy she leaves to the two museums she supported in life.
Together, the Adirondack Museum and the Wild Center are instrumental in promoting the need for environmental protection of one of the last truly untouched frontiers in America. And they’re just plain fun to visit. Make sure to plan your next trip soon.
Photos: Above, view of Blue Mountain Lake from the cafe of the Adirondack Museum (photo by Linda Peckel); below, Trout Stream in the Hall of the Adirondacks at the Wild Center, and View of the Wild Center (Courtesy Wild Center).