Permanent Exhibits

The Erie Canal Made New York
This is the Erie Canal Museum’s new permanent first floor exhibit, which was years in the making and finally completed in 2015. This comprehensive exhibit details the history and construction of the Canal, from earliest conception to the modern Barge Canal System. The exhibit features many remarkable images and artifacts from the ECM permanent collection.

Weighlock Building Exhibits
The first floor of the historic 1850 Weighlock Building contains exhibits about the financing of the Canal, the function and operation of the Syracuse Weighlock, and Syracuse-specific topics, such as folk musician Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten. Next to the weigh chamber, visitors can check out the Weighmaster’s office, where the weighing of canal boats was supervised and managed 24 hours a day during the Canal’s operating season.

Weigh Chamber
The Museum’s weigh chamber contains the Frank Buchanan Thomson, which is a full-size replica line boat. It is representative of a pre-enlargement vessel that would have carried both cargo and passengers on the Canal. Museum visitors can explore the Frank Buchanan Thomson and learn about life for canal boat passengers and crew, as well as the raw materials and finished goods that traveled on the Canal.

Second Floor Exhibits
Much of the second floor permanent exhibit space is devoted to recreating life in a Canal town. ECM visitors will see a Canal era tavern, general store, and theatre. There is also an exhibit about Onondaga Pottery/Syracuse China, a business that originated in the early days of the Erie Canal. And visitors can learn more about stone construction in Syracuse during the 19th and early 20th centuries, and view the tools used by stonecutters.

Children’s Area
The Erie Canal Museum has a special space for our youngest visitors! They can read books about the Canal, play with traditional toys, try on historic clothing, or put on a puppet show.

The Erie Canal Museum has several murals, both inside and outside. They depict life on the Canal, Canal businesses, elevation changes along the Canal, and the operation of a lock.

Locktender’s Garden
This outdoor exhibit was created in 1992, and is a recreation of a Victorian-era Canalside garden, with plants authentic to the period. It was developed and is maintained by the Syracuse Garden Club. Also in the garden is a section of the replica canal boat Nathan Roberts, which is queued and ready to enter the weigh chamber!

Artwork at the Erie Canal Museum
The permanent exhibits include several artworks, including Madonna of the Canal by Elizabeth Leader (2015) and Clinton Square, c. 1864 by Mark Topp (1993).