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Walter Elwood Museum

Situated at Guy Park Avenue in Amsterdam, New York, the Walter Elwood Museum is one of only two public school-operated museums in New York. Serving as a cultural center for the Mohawk Valley, it offers interactive learning environments, educational classes, and community outreach/special events. Walter Elwood, an educator in the Greater Amsterdam School District (GASD) in the early 1900's, started his museum in the Fifth Ward School on the south side of Amsterdam. His collection included an assortment of ethnographic materials and natural history items from every corner of the globe. Elwood is fondly remembered by the community members, carrying interesting materials from school to school in an effort to educate students with authentic artifacts and objects. In 1967, the museum was moved to its current location, which is an aged brick building (about 100 years old). Exhibits were started in 1978 by Joseph Todak - an inspired art teacher in the school district. Considered as an important resource to students’ education, the museum houses a collection of more than 25,000 items relating to multicultural, Victorian, natural history, and items that recount Mohawk Valley's colorful industrial past (documentary, photographic and tangible). Through exhibits, publications, programs, and other methods, it explores and interprets the community’s natural/human past and its connection to the present. In addition to the students, local residents, as well as visitors to the community, are also invited to use the museum resources. The museum operates a gift shop that sells selected items related to the authentic artifacts and specimens exhibited in museum displays.