Our Mission

The Erie Canal Museum engages the public in the story of the Erie Canal’s transformative impacts on peoples and places in the past, present, and future.

Our Vision

The Erie Canal Museum is a vibrant hub for Central New York, inspiring the public to critically engage with history as thoughtful citizens.

Our Values

Collaboration: We develop relationships and partnerships with aligned institutions, community stakeholders, and public programs with a commitment to mutually benefit all partners.

Education: We foster an accessible environment of resources and materials that offers a multidisciplinary view of the Erie Canal and its extended influence to encourage critical thinking.

Equity: We respect all people, communities, and cultures. We value diversity in identities, abilities, experiences, and viewpoints. We recognize we are collectively stronger and richer when everyone is included equitably.

Stewardship: We acknowledge and respect our role in preserving the Erie Canal’s history for future generations through the collection and interpretation of Canal-related materials and heritage.

Transparency: We strive to clearly define our intentions, operate openly, and listen to the perspectives of our audience, peers, and the community.

DEAI Statement

The Erie Canal Museum’s traditional narrative has highlighted the Canal’s engineering marvels and economic impacts on towns like Syracuse, often through a romanticized, ethnocentric lens. This perspective, showcased in permanent Museum exhibits such as “The Erie Canal Made New York,” has largely overlooked the Canal’s complex legacy, including its interactions with Haudenosaunee and Black individuals and its environmental impact. Museums hold significant legitimizing power, and the misrepresentation of marginalized histories can harm those communities. Thus, the Museum is committed to expanding its narrative to offer a more holistic historical account.

Embracing Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion (DEAI) is integral to the Museum’s mission. Diversity encompasses all human differences, Equity ensures fair treatment for all, Access provides opportunities for participation, and Inclusion involves meaningful collaboration with community voices. The Museum aims to embody these principles in its interpretation of history, its internal culture, and its community engagement.

Since 2020, the Museum has made strides in broadening its research and narratives, such as the Pathways of Resistance walking tour and collaborations with institutions like the Skä•noñh Great Law of Peace Center. Moving forward, the Museum plans a comprehensive reinterpretation of its displays, collections, and programs, working with marginalized communities and scholars to incorporate diverse perspectives. This endeavor acknowledges the Erie Canal’s complex history while aspiring to foster an inclusive and equitable future.

Land Acknowledgement

The Erie Canal Museum acknowledges it is located on the unceded lands of the Onondaga Nation, Central Firekeepers of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The Erie Canal itself is located on the homelands of all members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy: the Mohawk, Oneida, Tuscarora, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca nations. We recognize that the Erie Canal played a major role in the disruption of their traditional ways of living, negative effects of which linger to this day. Here at the Erie Canal Museum we are committed to taking actions to do our small part in addressing these wrongs through education and inclusion.