Author Chuck D’Imperio took a road trip to explore the unknown museums of New York State, going over 5,000 miles and seeing over 50 museums. The museums were obscure yet fascinating places that have yet to get the attention of most of the general public. D’Imperio introduces his adventure as seeking out the most uncommon and unusual museums that he could find that would prove fascinating to all of those who had no idea that they existed. His analysis of each museum presents an overview of the museums purpose and the county of where it is located, a “wow” factor of the museum and what visitors should take away for their visiting the museum. D’Imperio writes about each museum in a way that is clear and focuses on the exciting aspects of each museum. He also provides the practical information such as the address, museums that are located near the area, as well as other museums in the area that he did not explore but can be explored by people who are looking for extra sites.
The book as a whole is well organized and extremely interesting. D’ Imperio writes about museums that are fascinating and unknown. He writes in a way that is easy to follow and provides the reader with the essential information that they need to know and an idea of what to look for if they were to go to these museums. Each site has a history behind the town, the area, and the museum. It allows the reader to understand its foundation and purpose to society. D’Imperio asks the director what they feel is the “wow” factor for the museum and indicates to visitors exactly what exhibit or section they should pay close attention to if and when they visit. The last part is what he calls the take away, essentially telling the visitors what they should get out of visiting these museums that are unknown and rare yet exciting. The take away is an essential part for the reader because it hints at both the purpose and why someone should go visit something as obscure as some of these museums.
The book is very interesting and is able to peak anyone’s interest. Even if you are not a history geek, there are museums in Upstate New York that require no historical knowledge and will appeal to non-museum people. Some of the most notable ones are the Jell-O Museum in Genesee County, the Kazoo Museum in Erie County, the Salt Museum in Onondaga County, Museum of Oddities in Madison County, and the Trolley Museum of New York, in Ulster County, right in our own Hudson River Valley. Though not all historical, the topics of these museums appeal to the general public and historicize something as simple as Jell-O to become a learning tool for both children and adults alike. The nice part about this book is that the museums that D’Imperio researched are not always something that the reader may be interested in. However he provides enough information about them that its sure to raise one’s interest in them none the less.
D’Imperio also does a great job of providing the essential information about price, address, tour times and hours of operation. He also provides some other information that helps visitors make the best of their visits at these places. Overall, the book is very well done and provides both historical and non-historical museums that fit everyone’s taste yet does not drown readers in information and does not completely take away from the excitement of the museum experience for future visitors.
His second to last section about the Hudson River Valley museums is interesting because it includes many of the museums that are not known in comparison to all of the very popular historic home museums that are most common to the Hudson River Valley. The historic homes overshadow some of these smaller museums and the book nicely showcases some of the important yet unknown museums that are right here in the Hudson River Valley. Not to say that the historic homes and site are not essential to Hudson River Valley history, but it is nice to see that there is more history to be offered here that is not yet know. Some of the sites that D’Imperio notes are the Gomez Mill House Museum in Orange County, “Last Stop U.S.A.” in Rockland County, National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in Orange County along with additional one’s that he did not personally visit, but are still notable to the area.
I would highly recommend picking up a copy of this book and taking a road trip to visit some of your favorite museums that he highlights. After reading this, I’ve made a list of where I would like to visit after I graduate. Enjoy!
-Kaitlyn Walsh ‘14