Walter Elwood had been an educator in the Greater Amsterdam School District (GASD) in the early 1900's. Having traveled around the world as a young man, Mr. Elwood became an avid collector of ethnographic materials and natural history items from every corner of the globe.
He started his "museum" in the Fifth Ward School on the south side of Amsterdam, and is fondly remembered by many in our community, carrying interesting materials from school to school in an effort to educate students with authentic artifacts and objects. Upon his death in the 1950's, he stipulated that the collection should be left to the Greater Amsterdam School District. The collections were moved to their current location in 1967, and exhibits were constructed in 1978 by Joseph Todak, an inspired art teacher in the school district. His use of cardboard and illustration is decidedly creative.
The museum collection is housed in a Walter Elwood at work on an exhibit 100-year old brick building which formerly served as an elementary school. Our extensive assortment of approximately 25,000 artifacts fall into four categories: multicultural, Victorian, natural history, and items that relate to Mohawk Valley's colorful industrial past (documentary, photographic and tangible).
Since its inception, the museum has served to link school curriculum to the dynamic richness of our common cultural and historic heritage, and has functioned as an intellectual and artistic center for Amsterdam and the Mohawk Valley. We offer interactive learning environments, educational classes, and a spectrum of cultural events. We also feature various new exhibits, guest lecturers, and summer school classes in science, math and natural history.
Walter Elwood inspecting film at the museumThe Walter Elwood Museum of the Mohawk Valley (formally the Mohawk Valley Heritage Association or MVHA) was formed in 1981 to protect this small, school-owned museum. Due to budgetary difficulties, the school district has had to give up staffing the museum, and has turned over management of the collections to our group. We have chosen a new board of trustees to oversee the interests of the museum, have restructured our organizational policies, have received a provisional charter from the New York State Department of Education. We have worked closely with experienced consultants to map out our course for the future, and with vigorous fundraising efforts, are poised for significant growth.
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