(We were hosted by the Rockwell Museum and Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes. All opinions are my own.)
The Rockwell Museum sits on Cedar Street in Corning’s Old City Hall. The brick building looks similar to many of the structures surrounding it….except for the buffalo head protruding from the front façade! This is fitting, since the museum’s diverse collection of paintings, artifacts, sculptures and photographs tells the story of the American experience from the perspectives of American artists. The core of the Rockwell Museum’s art collection was gifted by Bob and Hertha Rockwell. (no relation to the artist Norman Rockwell). In November 2015, the Rockwell Museum became a Smithsonian affiliate, one of only 200 affiliates nationwide and the only one in upstate New York.
My kids are big animal lovers and especially enjoyed seeing buffalo, horses, moose and other animals in various forms. Although I have visited many museums during my travels, I was sadly unfamiliar with many early American artists. I enjoyed becoming familiar with some of the works of famous artists like John James Audobon, Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Remington. One of my favorite paintings was Judith Lowry’s Family: Love’s Unbreakable Heaven (pictured above). Hanging on the red wall, the colors in the piece seem even more vibrant. Besides its incredible collection of art, here are 6 reasons why the Rockwell Museum is perfect for families.
1. Size – Compared to many other art museums that we have been to, the Rockwell Museum is comparatively small. This is not a bad thing, especially for families! Encompassing only three floors, you can tour the museum in a couple of hours.
2. Art Hunts – Children can pick up an Art Hunt board at the admissions desk, located in the gift shop, upon arrival. During your visit, they try to find the images on the board that match actual museum pieces. Once the board is completed, they receive a small prize. My kids enjoyed participating in the Art Hunt and were able to complete their boards without difficulty. I like that they were getting exposed to and having to closely examine the pieces of art. Plus, it gives them some focus as we walked around the museum. The Art Hunt has two sides, one each for the 2nd and 3rd floors of the museum.
3. The Balcony – The third floor of the museum leads to an outdoor balcony. If your child is getting restless, you can bring them outside on a nice day and let them burn off some of their energy! Added bonus, you get to take in some spectacular views of Corning!
4. The Family Exploration Studio – Located on the second floor of the museum, you can literally spend hours in the Family Exploration Studio! The space is made specifically for kids to explore and enrich their museum experience. The space includes a book nook with art-related books, a magnetic wall puzzle of one of the museum paintings, a landscape drawing game and more. The activities change seasonally, so there’s always something new to do.
My kids spent the majority of their time working on their Paper Blanket Stories, which connects to the current, temporary exhibit Blanket Stories.
5. Alley Art – After touring the inside of the museum, be sure to take a walk down the alleyways around it. In a partnership with the High School Learning Center of the Corning-Painted Post Area School District, students work with Rockwell Museum educators and create a mural. I’m a big fan of street art and was super impressed with the Alley Art projects that we saw walking around the village.
6. New York State Social Studies Curriculum Connections – The former teacher in me is coming out now! The NY state 4th grade social studies curriculum focuses on the state of New York. Units of study including Native American Groups, the geography of NY state and the Westward Movement are depicted in various art forms throughout the museum. Children can make connections with the museum exhibits and what they are studying in school.
If you visit the museum in late November through the end of December you will be treated to the special Gingerbread Invitational exhibit. 13 artists are featured in this special exhibit, where they create historic landmarks and architecture from the Corning region out of gingerbread! Museum visitors get to vote on their favorites.
Children 17 and under are admitted free to both the Rockwell Museum and the Corning Museum of Glass. Admission tickets are valid for two consecutive days. You can also purchase a combo ticket at a discounted price to both museums. A sample one-day itinerary might include starting your morning at the Rockwell Museum. Then, have lunch and walk around the Gaffer District, adjacent to the museum. Finally, take the free shuttle to the Corning Museum of Glass!
The Rockwell Museum
111 Cedar Street
Corning, NY 14830
Parking: Free parking is available in the rear of the building
Hours: 9 AM – 5 PM Daily, 9 AM – 8 PM (summer hours), seven days a week
Admission: $11/adult, $10/55+, $10/AAA and military, $5.50/local residents and students with I.D.,Free/kids 17 and under. Admission is valid for two consecutive days.
**Combination tickets are available for the Rockwell Museum and the Corning Museum of Glass. A free shuttle bus travels between the two museums, allowing you to park once. Combination tickets are valid for two consecutive days. Combo ticket prices: $27.25/adult, $26.25/55+, $25.25/AAA and military, $21.25/college students, $14.25/local residents, Free/kids 17 and under
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