With the addition of its new, 1,800 square foot wing, the Bolton Historical Museum will, of course, be larger in size when it re-opens this spring. But it will also be broader in scope.
A partnership with National Geographic and Lakes to Locks, the nonprofit organization dedicated to heritage tourism, will help re-brand the museum as one of several regional Heritage Centers along a byway extending from the Capital District to the Canadian border.
“As a National Geographic-approved Heritage Center, the Bolton Historical Museum will become a destination for travelers interested in place-based, experiential tourism. When they travel, they look for what is distinctive and unique about the places they visit. The Heritage Center creates that connection between the travelers and the place they have come to visit,” said Janet Kennedy, the executive director of Lakes to Locks.
A $10,500 grant from Lakes to Locks will help the museum’s board and staff develop new installations and exhibits that will convey the unique qualities of Bolton, said Kennedy.
According to Ed Scheiber, the president of the museum’s board of directors, the new exhibits will be organized according to themes or stories selected by the a committee of the museum’s directors. “These stories are the stories that define us as a community; they enhance our residents’ knowledge and appreciation of the town while, at the same time, informing, enlightening and entertaining the visitor,” said Scheiber. Those stories include Bolton as a resort destination and as a source of inspiration for artists, scientists and conservationists, he said. Permanent exhibitions will also explore Bolton as “a place,” a product of unique natural and manmade features, and as “an experience.”
To tell Bolton’s stories, the museum plans to not only display artifacts but deploy digital technology, including touchscreen monitors, projection screens, videos and audio productions, said Scheiber.
The museum’s new director, Jackie Andersen, will lead the effort to bring the museum into the digital age, he said.
A graduate of Lake George High School and a Bolton resident, Andersen started work in November. She holds a bachelors degree from Brandeis University, a Masters degree in counseling from SUNY Plattsburgh and a Masters degree in Cultural Studies from Claremont Graduate University, one of the Claremont Colleges of Claremont, California.
Andersen has taught in schools in Glens Falls, Santa Monica, California and Stoughton, Massachusetts. She and her husband, Bolton native Chris Andersen, have two daughters, Madeleine and Eliza.
“My career plans did not include becoming the director of a museum of local history, but in retrospect, my education and experience could not have led me to a better place,” said Andersen. “With the museum in the process of making major changes, the timing for coming aboard as the new director couldn’t have been better. I’m looking forward to bringing the museum into the 21st century, making it more accessible and better connected to the outside world.”
The first exhibit to occupy the new wing will be devoted to Bolton Landing boats and boating, said Andersen. The main space in the former church, however, will remain empty, at least for the time being, she said.
“The artifacts have been removed while we raise funds for our permanent exhibitions,” said Andersen. “With the grant from Lakes to Locks, we will be able to retain a consultant who can help us design those exhibitions that will tell Bolton’s stories in compelling ways.”
Overseeing the construction of the new wing is architect Al Stern. He’s a part-time resident of Bolton Landing, but one who began spending time here while a college student. He and his wife now own a home near Braley Point.
“I have a long history of working in Bolton,” said Stern, who graduated from RPI. “My first job as a project manager was at the Sagamore in 1985, when the restoration of the hotel began. I returned in 2004 for the renovation of the Spa and later, of the Trillium restaurant. But I’ve also worked on projects like the Amtrak station in Rennsalaer, the National Museum of Racing in Saratoga, on schools, office buildings and housing complexes.”
The Town of Bolton retained Stern last year to steer the museum project toward completion.
Ruben Caldwell, a graduate of Bolton Central School who received his M.Arch from Columbia University in 2011, developed the designs with Leigh Salem, his partner in the Brooklyn-based firm Tack-Design,
“Ruben was looking for a licensed architect to complete the designs,” said Stern. “I completed them, made certain we met code requirements and oversaw the selection of the contractors and the electrical, lighting and heating systems. I’ve taken the project through the final phases of design and we’re on schedule to be finished by the end of May.” The timber frame wing will be connected by a vestibule to the former church, which was built in 1890.
Among the new wing’s most prominent features will be large windows, creating seamless views of the park, the lake and the mountains on the opposite shore.
“I like the fact that it’s open; it’s almost transparent,” Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover said of the design. “It’s modern, but fitting. The reaction from our Town Board has been overwhelmingly positive.”
“The glass is intended to make the interior inviting from the park; pedestrians could look inside the building and see what’s on display,” said Ed Scheiber.
According to Stern, the siding will be made from native white that will age to a silver color.
“The building will be truly representative of the Adirondacks and the Lake George region,” said Stern. “It’s built from materials a boat builder would have selecteds when he was constructing his own shop, using the preferred construction methods for a building that size.”
Ed Scheiber said the museum has raised approximately $150,000 for the new wing. An additional $30,000 has been raised by the Friends of the Bolton Historical Society, a group of younger residents who organized a committee to support the new wing.
The renovation and redesign of Rogers Park and the construction of the new Visitors Center and the museum annex “is a transformative moment for the Town of Bolton,” said Supervisor Conover.
Lake George Mirror file photos, from above: farm house renovations; The Museum’s new wing will echo the barns, ice houses, boat houses and boat building shops that are native to the region; and Al Stern, the project’s manager.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Lake George Mirror.