I traveled to Rochester to spend a girls’ weekend getaway with my mom and we loved the city so much we were sad to leave and even began planning our next trip back before we left! What truly impressed us the most was how much history, art and culture Rochester is home to. From the world’s most comprehensive libraries of photographic books, manuscripts and journals to the only collections-based museum in the world that is devoted solely to play – Rochester has so much to offer! Here’s a breakdown of the museums that can’t be missed in Rochester:
Founded in 1947, the George Eastman Museum (housed in Eastman’s former home) is the world’s oldest photography museum – which is fitting as Eastman was the pioneer of popular photography and made photography attainable for the average person in 1888.
A side of the George Eastman Museum as seen from the gardens.
The George Eastman Museum boasts over 400,000 photographs from 14,000 photographers that date back to the beginnings of photography. There are also over 16,000 pieces of different camera technology. What’s great about the George Eastman Museum is that it not only gives a history of photography but also the history of George Eastman himself, which is much more than just that of an entrepreneur.
The library inside the George Eastman Museum.
The table, set for Christmas, in George Eastman’s former parlor.
Eastman was also a philanthropist who donated over $100 million to education and art institutions, parks, hospitals, dental facilities and charities around the world. After being diagnosed with a spinal disease Eastman took his own life, leaving a note that can be seen in the museum itself, that read; “My work is done. Why wait?” Eastman left money in his will for the expansion of arts, education and medical services in the Rochester community.
Susan B. Anthony was a national figure in the women’s right’s movement and once resided in Rochester. Her former home has been transitioned into the museum. The Susan B. Anthony Museum & House has made it their mission to share the story of Anthony’s lifelong commitment to obtain voting rights for woman and equality for all.
The home boasts history having been the headquarters to the National American Women Suffrage Association while Anthony was president and was even where she was famously arrested for voting in 1872. Housing photo galleries and offering various tours, lectures and seminars the Susan B. Anthony House & Museum is a must-see museum in Rochester.
The Strong Museum of Play brings together the best of both a history and children’s museum providing children and adults alike a fun experience. With collectables, board games, a butterfly garden and more, all surrounding the concept of ‘play’, the museum is the only collections based museum in the whole world devoted solely to play!
The museum boasts collections of toys long discontinued including dolls and toys and even video game collections – as well as collections of books such as The Berenstain Bears and Harry Potter. For young children, The Strong Museum of Play is a fun day out and for adults it’s a trip down memory lane.
The television set of the stoop from Sesame Street, a show that so many can remember!
A view from inside the butterfly garden.
The Genesee Country Village & Museum is the largest and most comprehensive living history museum in New York State and house the third-largest collection of historical buildings in the country. The historic village is comprised of 68 buildings and progresses from a Pioneer Settlement (circa 1790-1920) to Center Village (circa 1830-1860) to Gas Light District (circa 1860-1900). With working buildings, you might catch the aroma of a freshly baked pie while you watch a live demonstration at the pottery, copper shop, tin or black smith.
The John L. Wehle Gallery is home to one of the best collections of sporting and wildlife in America. The collection of paintings, prints, sculptures and paintings span from the 17th-20th century and document how styles changed over time in sporting and wildlife art. While the Nature Center is home to hundreds of acres of woodlands, meadows, fields, ponds and streams that has five miles of nature trails (each with their own theme) as well as 175 acres of wildlife habitat!
Housing over 5,000 years of art history from a pair of 2,000-year-old Egyptian coffins to a Rembrandt portrait and almost everything in between it is said that The Memorial Art Gallery’s collection of over 12,000 pieces is the best-balanced collection in New York State outside of Manhattan. The Gallery is set on 14 acres and offers annual schedules of exhibitions, lectures, concerts, tours and activities.
One could easily spend the day getting lost in the vast collection at Memorial Art Gallery. Upon entering the Memorial Art Gallery, you begin taking a trip through history from a sculpture of a Buddha head that dates to 300-500 to Medieval Armor dated to 1562 there is truly a piece of art or history to cater to everyone at the Memorial Art Gallery.
Andy Warhol’s portrait of Jackie O is housed at The Memorial Art Gallery.
A stained glass artwork by Judith Schaechter which portrays The Battle of Carnival and Lent – a chaotic battle in which clowns represent the lavish indulgence of carnival and monks embody the penitent attitude of Lent.
From Egyptian coffins to the worlds oldest photography museum to Warhol and quite literally everything in between – Rochester has so much to offer when it comes to museums! If you’re planning a visit to “The Lost Borough” you should also check out my Ultimate Girls Getaway to Rochester article.
*Disclaimer: I was hosted in Rochester as a guest by Visit Rochester. My opinions, as always, remain my own.