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

Onondaga Historical Museum Temporary Exhibits

Look At What We Got!: Recent Donations to OHA
Now 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."

A Life in Art: Highlights of Women Artists in OHA’s Collection
Now through June 5, 2016 at Onondaga Historical Museum

Get a peek into the lives of some of the women artists who lived in Syracuse and Onondaga County from the early 19th century through the late 20th century. 53 works of art by 50 female artists provide a glimpse into the limitations and opportunities, controversy and acceptance, travel and community, and friendship and family experiences by a diverse group of women. The exhibit likewise displays a diversity of media including oil and watercolor paintings; pencil, charcoal, and pen and ink drawings; marble, clay, ceramic, and bronze sculpture; and etchings, engravings, linocuts, and other types of prints.

A Life in Art reveals a passion for making art and other creative endeavors that most of the artists in the exhibition pursued for their entire lives. Very few of the artists made her living solely from selling her art, however. They earned money through other means or relied on family members or husbands to support them. As many artists do today, many of these women found jobs that enabled them to be involved in art in some additional way. They became illustrators, graphic artists, and designers; headed art institutions and art departments; supervised art education, and taught art at high schools and universities; and wrote and illustrated books. Looking at the subject of each work through the biography of the artist who made it provides a new perspective and appreciation of both the artists and the works of art. The stories of these women add an extra depth and breadth to the history of central New York.

This exhibition was supported by a generous donation by the Quarry Questors, a local study club for the appreciation of antiques, and the Greater Hudson Heritage Network, which provided funding to restore one of the works in the exhibition, a 19th century landscape painting by Charlotte Brigham.

Snowy Splendor: Winter Scenes of Onondaga County
Now through March 27, 2016 at Onondaga Historical Museum

Snowy Splendor: Winter Scenes of Onondaga County, features oil, acrylic, & watercolor paintings, photographs, and pastel drawings of winter scenes of Onondaga County from area artists and photographers.   The 40 scenes include downtown Syracuse, parks, rural vistas, and woodland settings.  The imagery also is varied; sometimes stark, sometimes colorful, yet all evocative of a season we love and hate.  The exhibit is scheduled to close on March 27, 2016.

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