May 1: Closed on Mondays
Two new exhibitions will open mid-May, 2017.
The Empire State Carousel is a beautiful example of a traditional country fair ride. Called “the museum you can ride.” it has 25 hand-carved animals representing the agricultural and natural resources found in New York State, and chariot rides of a scallop shell (the State shellfish), an Erie Canal Boat, and an original Lover’s Tub. Other carved elements, such as folklore panels, depict Uncle Sam and Deerslayer, and portrait panels of such notable figures as Susan B. Anthony, Teddy Roosevelt, Grandma Moses and Jackie Robinson enhance the rounding boards.
There are eight foot curved murals whose paintings depict moments in New York history from the arrival of the Half Moon to the construction of Levittown. The hand carved frames around the mirrors depict 11 different regions of New York, and there are carved place names from all over the State. Even the sweeps of the carousel feature over 300 feet of hand stencils of the bluebird, rose, apple, sugar maple leaf and state map!
First conceived in 1982, it opened at The Farmers’ Museum on Memorial Day 2006 and represents voluntary artistic contributions by over 1,000 New Yorkers. Housed in a twelve-sided building, the Empire State Carousel is open during museum hours.
The Cardiff Giant, a ten-foot-long gypsum figure known as “America’s Greatest Hoax” has been on exhibit since the 1940s at The Farmers’ Museum. The Cardiff Giant traces the story of this “petrified man,” which was the centerpiece of a moneymaking scheme by a businessman from Binghamton, New York. The Cardiff Giant was created and displayed in the 19th century, and public reaction to it reflected the scientific and religious beliefs of the time.
George Hull, a cigar-maker and get-rich-quick artist, came up with the idea to create the Giant during a business trip to Iowa. Hull, an atheist, argued with a revivalist minister about a biblical passage. The phrase “There were giants in the earth in those days” (Genesis 6:4), sparked Hull’s imagination and led to an involved plot that eventually made him a fortune.
In 1868, Hull went to Ft. Dodge, Iowa, and ordered a five-ton block of gypsum to create, he explained, a piece of patriotic statuary. The block was delivered to a stonecutter, Edward Burghardt, in Chicago, who, having been sworn to silence, created the Giant. The figure was then secretly shipped to the village of Cardiff, just south of Syracuse, where it was placed in a pit and covered. In 1869, the man on whose farm Hull had hidden the Giant hired two workmen to dig a well. He ordered then to dig it in the spot where the Giant had been buried, and the workmen thus directed soon made their startling discovery.
Word of the unearthing of a petrified man spread quickly around the countryside. People came from miles around to see the Giant, which was identified as an example of an ancient race mentioned in Genesis by some believers. “Found” in the heart of New York’s Burnt Over District, the Giant benefited from the religious fervor sweeping the area. Scientific experts offered another theory on the Giant’s origin. Dr. John F. Boynton, scientific lecturer, declared that the Giant was a statue created by a Jesuit priest during the early 17th century to awe local Indian tribes. State Geologist James Hall was also convinced that the Giant was an ancient statue. A third group said it was a hoax, but this in no way diminished its popularity.
In 1947, the Giant was sold to The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown. He is now on display inside the main barn of the museum.
The 19th-century Historic Village is comprised of buildings gathered from rural communities around New York state and painstakingly relocated and restored, piece by piece. Each building provides an intimate view of commercial and domestic practices common to rural life in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
The Lippitt Farmstead is a living example of how a farm would have operated in the mid-19th-century. Seasons are celebrated at the farm with the changing scene and changing occupations: cultivation and harvesting of hops, the area’s most valuable crop of the period; nurturing of young farm animals; shearing the sheep and combing, spinning and weaving the wool. Children will delight in petting or feeding the young animals in the Children’s Barnyard. The farm is welcoming, friendly and hearty, a tribute to the pioneering spirit that shaped the American countryside.
This collection of buildings that includes two barns and six other outbuildings, animal sheds, a smoke house, and the Lippitt family farmhouse reflects the design of houses in Joseph Lippitt’s native Rhode Island. The house dates from 1800 and was built in Hinman Hollow, N.Y.