VICTOR, N.Y. -- It’s a Seneca tradition to say a special welcome to visitors from afar, and now they’re hoping they’ll have even more reasons to say it.
The Ganondogan State Historic Site in Victor is the only developed and interpreted ancient Seneca town in the United States, and now there's a brand new Seneca Art and Cultural Center.
The building is more than 17,000 square feet and allows the museum to operate year-round. It features a gallery with artifacts, an auditorium, and classrooms to learn about Seneca culture.
“Here we have the historic site itself, hiking trails that take you over the historic site, and now we have a brand new building that provides an even bigger picture with the exhibits, with the artifacts, with the stories that you’ll hear, either audio or visually that you’ll see on film, so that we can give you a more complete picture of our story," said Ganondagan State Historic Site Manager G. Peter Jemison.
The building was built into the hill and designed to fit in with the natural surroundings. This $15 million project was years in the making. It was a collaborative effort among the Seneca Nation, New York state, and several corporate and private donors. The state contributed funds as part of Governor Cuomo’s New York Parks 2020 plan.
“We have tens of thousands of kids that already come here," said New York State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey," and we’re hoping it may double our visitation."
Seneca leaders emphasize this museum is not only about history, but about the tribe’s cultural life that continues today.
“I think that’s the biggest education to the citizens of the U.S., to say that we are still here, and we are carrying on our ceremonies and our languages," said Chief Sid Hill of the Onondaga Nation.