OHA & Onondaga Historical Museum - Temporary Exhibits, Customized Exhibits & Traveling Exhibits . . . History brought to life!

Onondaga Historical Museum Temporary Exhibits

Salt City Rock: The History of Rock and Roll in Syracuse
Now through August 23, 2015 at Onondaga Historical Museum

The exhibit covers Rock and Roll in Syracuse from the 1950s to today and include memorabilia from local musicians such as The Trend, The FlashCubes, and The Tear Jerkers.

The Greater Syracuse community has had the fortune to be the site for an outstanding array of performances by "rock & roll" musicians, from talented local bands to top internationally known stars. The time period ranges from the appearance of Bill Haley and the Comets in 1956 to Billy Joel's Carrier Dome concert in March of 2015. One could endlessly debate which of these were the best concerts, the most famous, or perhaps the most historic. However, three local rock & roll "events should be noted in this exhibit. There were six performances here by the Rolling Stones over the years, one of the most famous and enduring international rock bands of all time. There was an informal concert, led by Beatle John Lennon, in a suite at the Hotel Syracuse in 1971. The audience was small and private, but the almost reunion 3/4 of the band still places the Syracuse event at a lofty place in rock & roll history. The concert by Elvis Presley in 1976 at the Onondaga War Memorial had to be a highpoint in the lives of local rock & roll fans. While Elvis was not in his prime, but it remains a benchmark in Syracuse's rich heritage of rock & roll history.

Presenting Sponsor: Dinosaur-Bar-B-Q. Also Sponsored by World of Beer & Resurrected Tattoo. Supported by 94.1, 95.3, 103.9 THE DINOSAUR and Betty Elm Records.

Lodging Landmark, The Heritage of the Hotel Syracuse
has been extended, at Onondaga Historical Museum

The exhibit will feature twenty framed images along with a small selection of original archival items and artifacts.  Fourteen historic images will be drawn from the extensive photographic files on the hotel maintained in the OHA's permanent collection.  These range from a 1923 view of construction to the 1948 interior of the famous Rainbow Lounge, along with historic scenes of the Cavalier Room, the Persian Terrace and other locations from its heyday.  Additionally, there will be a half-dozen recent interior images taken this year by professional photographer Bruce Harvey.  These show that the hotel still maintains an irreplaceable majesty despite years of faded glory. The hotel, which opened in 1924, has been closed and dormant for several years but a new owner has begun a massive project to renovate it for the future while restoring its grand architecture. Free and open to the public. The exhibit is made possible through the generous sponsorship of the following firms: Holmes, King, Kallquist Architects, the Klepper, Hahn & Hyatt engineering firm, Hayner Hoyt Corporation and IPD Engineering, all of Central New York, plus MLG Architects of New York City.

Look At What We Got!: Recent Donations to OHA
May 13 through February 14, 2016 at Onondaga Historical Museum

This exhibit, located on the 2nd floor of the Onondaga Historical Museum, will include unusual, fascinating, and amusing items recently donated to OHA, such as a framed potato chip - the first chip produced by Jean's Foods in the 1940s: a "Glass Victory Washboard," as well as a "Camp Fire Girls Ceremonial Gown" from 1944-5.

Adorning the walls will be art both by local artists and of local history. Alongside a framed photograph of the last train that came down Washington Street in 1936, will be a series of paintings by renowned Syracuse impressionist Hall Groat, including "Syracuse City Hall," "Alarm, Syracuse, NY," "Parade Day, Salina Street, Syracuse," and "Canal Days, Clinton Square, Syracuse, NY."

Patterns in History: Vintage Quilts of Onondaga County
July 29 through October 4 at Onondaga Historical Museum

OHA has a significant collection of historic quilts at its museum in Downtown Syracuse.  Approximately 20 patchwork, signature, appliqué, log cabin, and children’s quilts, as well as individual quilt squares from the 1850s to the early 20th century will be on display.  This exhibit will coincide with the American Quilter’s Society Quiltweek convention to be held in Syracuse between July 29 and August 1, 2015.  OHA is located at 321 Montgomery St., Syracuse, NY, 13202. Hours are Wednesday to Friday, 10-4, Saturday and Sunday, 11-4. Research center hours are Wednesday to Friday, 10-2, Saturday 11-3:30. For information, go to cnyhistory.org, or call (315) 428-1864. This exhibit will be up between July 29 and October 4, 2015.

OHA Collaborative Offsite Exhibitions

Landscape Painting Exhibition
At the North Hall, 2nd floor of the Capitol Building, Albany, NY.   
Exhibit of paintings that represent iconic scenes from CNY.

OHA Temporary Offsite Exhibitions

Onondaga County Courthouse, 4th Floor, Legislative chamber
A major highlight of the 2013 New York State Fair is this exhibition about Onondaga Lake past, present and future.  A cooperative effort between Onondaga Historical Association, Office of the Governor of New York State, SUNY ESF, Onondaga County’s Save the Rain program, Honeywell, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Audubon Society, COR Development, Destiny USA, SUNY Morrisville, O’Brien & Gere, and the New York State Fair.

TRANSFORMING SYRACUSE'S LAKEFRONT: The 25th Anniversary of a Bold Vision - 1987-2012
Two of the panels of the six panel exhibition explore the stunning changes that have occurred to the Syracuse Lakefront district since officials of the Pyramid Companies and the City of Syracuse first announced plans to begin a transformation of the city's waterfront.  The exhibit introduces the lakefront as an area with a long history, extending back to colonial times and once serving as the heart of Syracuse's great salt industry.  The exhibit then examines, often through dramatic before and after images, the changes that have occurred in the area with Carousel Center serving as the catalyst.  These transformations have taken place at the Inner Harbor, with the removal of dozens of oil tanks; along Onondaga Creek, with the creation of the Creekwalk; and within the abandoned early 20th century industrial district that is now the exciting historic Franklin Square neighborhood.

RENEWAL OF A COMMUNITY RESOURCE: Onondaga Lake’s Historic Role in Shaping Syracuse’s Identity exhibition
Syracuse City Hall Common Council Chamber

Center of Excellence
The exhibit begins with Onondaga Lake and the Native American philosophy of respect for the environment, then travels through time to examine early windmills and wind power, as well as the efficiency of the Syracuse-made Ner-A-Car, to the first centrifugal chiller made by Carrier Corp. and installed in the lithography department at Onondaga Pottery Co.  The exhibit also analyzes the Erie Canal, railroad travel through Syracuse, and the air-cooled Franklin automobile.

War Memorial
This exhibit displays our area’s rich and significant military history, from the American Revolution to the Iraq War.  There are fascinating displays with authentic artifacts from each conflict, all from the extensive collections of the Onondaga Historical Association Museum.  The exhibit includes a Civil War draft wheel, muskets, swords, flags, life-size figures in period uniforms… even a local World War II P.O.W.’s diary

These unique displays, beautiful Memorial Hall, and the Congressional Medal of Honor display (on the second floor) are all a permanent tribute to our Syracuse & Onondaga County veterans.

D. McCarthy, Sons & Co. Exhibit
This mini off-site exhibit features some objects and archival items associated with the 19th century department store D. McCarthy, Sons & Co.  The exhibit is located in the building’s lobby at the corner of E. Fayette and Salina Sts.  It consists of one exhibit case displaying some clothing and shoes once sold at D. McCarthy, Sons & Co. department store along with some beautiful trade cards.  The exhibit case also includes some store advertisements.  Also located on the lobby wall is a portrait of Dennis McCarthy, Sr. the second owner of the store.  Painted by George Kasson Knapp in 1897, the portrait of McCarthy looks down on the lobby making sure all is well with the lobby and exhibit.

OHA Exhibit at Century Club
At Century Club
The portrait of  Moses DeWitt Burnet, the original owner of the Clubhouse, painted by Charles Loring Elliott in 1841, is on long term loan from the Onondaga Historical Association and hangs just outside the Member’s Dining Room.  Beginning this month, OHA will expand its exhibit at the Club and will showcase some of its great Syracuse China Collection in the china cabinets within the Member’s Dining Room.  The first exhibit of 60-70 plates will be from the collection of plates of Native American images. Some of these plates are  "Approved Sample" plates which are one-of-a-kind plates. Many have the original paper stamp (which identifies them as "Approved Samples").  There was one "Approved Sample" made for every order of Syracuse China prior to full-scale production so these are unique plates.  There are also some plates that are part of the historical collection (including one that was designed by the famous painter, N.C. Wyeth, called "Return of the Hunter").  More information about the display will be a part of the exhibit.

OHA Customized Offsite Exhibitions

United Way of Central New York: A 90th Anniversary Exhibition
Opening at United Way headquarters in September, this panel exhibit will trace the growth and vital work carried on by one of the community’s most important charitable efforts.  Once known as the Community Chest, this local organization’s roots extends back to one of the first national campaigns carried on during World War I to provide relief to the sufferings of both the civilians and soldiers caught up in that catastrophic conflict.

OCC H-1 Hall Lobby
Permanent panel exhibit: "An Historic Location" tells the story of the RHEC site from its 15th century occupation by Native Americans, through its use in the 19th and 20th centuries as the Onondaga County Poor House and Home.  Call OCC for more information, 315.498.2622.

OHA Exhibit at Century Club
The portrait of Moses DeWitt Burnet, the original owner of the Clubhouse, painted by Charles Loring Elliott in 1841, is on long term loan from the Onondaga Historical Association.  Beginning this month, OHA expands its exhibit at the Club and showcases some of its great Syracuse China Collection in the china cabinets within the Member’s Dining Room.  The first exhibit of 60-70 plates from Native American images.  Some of these are "Approved Sample" plates which are one-of-a-kind.  Many have the original paper stamp (which identifies them as "Approved Samples"). There was one "Approved Sample" made for every order of Syracuse China prior to full-scale production.  There are also some that are part of the historical collection (including one that was designed by the famous painter, N.C. Wyeth, called "Return of the Hunter"). 

ARC of Onondaga
This panel exhibit in the Wilbur Avenue headquarters of Arc commemorates its 60th anniversary, as it revisits Arc's historic and inspirational story.


OHA’s Traveling Exhibitions at the Onondaga County Public Library. 
Displays that connect famous stage plays with local history.


OHA’s Traveling Exhibitions at Syracuse City Hall. 

Little Women
Local connections of the Alcott Family to Syracuse and how local families communicated with loved ones in the field, during the Civil War.  Sponsored by National Grid.

The Miracle Worker
History of Central New York facilities dealing with physically and developmentally disabled youth and the visit of Helen Keller to Syracuse in 1920.  Sponsored by Hancock—Estabrook, LLP.



Onondaga Historical Association
321 Montgomery St.,  Syracuse, NY. 13202
Phone 315-428-1864, Fax: 315-471-2133