Model Boats Make a Splash
Digital exhibit features entries in Erie Canal Museum’s Brick-a-Boat model canal boat contest.
Works go on the museum website August 28. 

By Vicki Krisak, Erie Canal Museum

A steam-powered cargo boat, a tugboat that traveled the Great Lakes, a railroad barge, and a replica of the Independence, a packet boat built for the Erie Canal Village in Rome, New York, inspired some of the submissions to the Erie Canal Museum’s Brick-a-Boat model canal boat challenge.

 Entries will go on display on the Museum’s website, Friday, August 28. The digital exhibit celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Canal, and its opening in Syracuse in 1820.

“We wanted to give children and families a fun, creative activity while we were closed to the public,” said Natalie Stetson, the Museum’s executive director. “Summer and navigation season were approaching, so we thought people would enjoy a contest they could enter online.”

Children, teens, and families from New York and three other states submitted pictures of their models. Judges from the MOST-Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology, the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, the Buffalo Maritime Center, and Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site will select top entries. The Museum will announce them after the exhibit opens. Builders will receive ribbons and recognition on the Museum website.

The public may vote for their favorite through September 24.

The public will also have the opportunity to vote for their favorite boat through the digital exhibit. People can select their top entry through September 24, and the People’s Choice winner will be announced on September 25.

Contest rules allowed original works made with building toys like Legos and Lincoln Logs. The Museum offered inspiration with pictures of different kinds of boats on its web page, and everyone who registered received a digital copy of A Canal Boat Primer

“We hope this contest will become a yearly tradition for builders, boat and Canal lovers, and families around the country,” Stetson said.

Established in 1962, the Erie Canal Museum protects and showcases the 1850 National Register Weighlock Building, and shares the history and impact of the Erie Canal through displays, permanent and changing exhibits, and original artifacts. It is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. by reservation at The Museum is partially funded by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.