Thursday, December 18, 2014


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Exhibits to blend technology and history at Erie Canal Museum

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Exhibits to blend technology and history at Erie Canal Museum
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Erie Canal Museum was an unexpected stop for the Forget family on their trip from Boston to Niagara Falls Sunday, but it didn't take them long to pick out a favorite exhibit.

"The boat is super cool – life-sized," said Rebekah Forget, 11. "It's really cool to learn about it in school, but to see it in person and be like, 'I've been there! I have photos!'"

"Bringing everything to life in what you learn in books or movies – to actually be on a vessel that was once on the Erie Canal is kind of fun," said her dad, Marc Forget.

There's one part of canal history that, until recently, was hard to explain.

"In 50 years of operating this museum, we've never had a way of actively showing how the boats were weighed in the weighlock building," said Dan Ward, the museum's curator.

About two years ago, that all changed. That's when the museum introduced "Work the Weighlock." It's an electronic exhibit that turns learning about how boats were charged to use the canal into a game, and it's a prototype for a number of new features planned for the museum.

"The new exhibits will have a lot more interactive elements in them so, they'll be able to go in and touch things and work with them and have things actually change on a screen or in a chamber of some sort," said Ward.

Museum officials say they're not just incorporating technology for technology's sake.

"When we're trying to show how large things worked that we can't really bring people to, we can miniaturize them on a screen and have some controls and let people operate things," Ward said.

Visitors could have these new tools at their fingertips by the end of spring. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP