Explore the history of the Erie Canal Corridor in more depth with these hybrid evening speaking programs. Registrants will be able to participate live either in-person or on Zoom and will receive a recording link that will be viewable for 30 days after the talk.



If you purchase the Deeper Dive Annual Pass, you will automatically be registered virtually for all Deeper Dive lectures and receive a recording of the talk. You can, however, choose to attend the lectures in-person or virtually. If you have any questions, email educator@eriecanalmuseum.org.


Note: We are unable to offer refunds for event reservations or donations. Please be sure you can attend prior to contributing. All event reservations/ticket sales/donations are final, unless the Museum cancels the event.

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May Deeper Dive: High Bridge Book Event and Panel Discussion

Wednesday, May 8 @ 6:00 PM 

Author Michael Miller joins a panel from the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation and Erie Canal Museum to explore the fact and fiction behind his new book “High Bridge,” a work of historical fiction exploring the canal town of Fayetteville through the eyes of two of its most well known residents; Grover Cleveland and Matilda Joslyn Gage.


June Deeper Dive: Three Fugitives Shipped on Board: Canals and the Underground Railroad in New York State

Wednesday, June 5 @ 6PM

Judith Wellman will discuss the Erie Canal’s role in the Underground Railroad.


Past Events:

Deeper Dive: Ditches to Dishes- An Erie Canal Journey

Thursday, April 18 @ 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM, 5:00 PM

Director of Education Derrick Pratt provides a jam-packed day of talks on the “Basics of the Erie Canal,” the “Conception of the Canal,” which looks at early efforts to alter New York’s interior waterways and the political wrangling that made the Erie Canal, “Erie Eats, examining how foodways were changed by the Canal, and “The Beer-ie Canal Was A-Risin’,” looking at brewing on the Canals. Refreshments will be paired with each talk. Shortly after you register, you will receive a link to a Google Form asking which of the lectures you plan to attend. You can attend any or all of the lectures.


The Hudson River School and Landscapes of Forgetting

Thursday, March 7 @ 6:00 PM 

Dr. Sascha Scott, Associate Professor of Art History at Syracuse University, examines the Hudson River School, closely connected with the Erie Canal, framed by the field of Indigenous studies with an emphasis on the impact of colonialism.

The Hudson River school is celebrated as America’s first national aesthetic movement. Paintings by the movement’s founder, Thomas Cole, and his followers depict the Hudson River Valley, Catskills, and Lake George region as beautiful, tranquil, empty, and uncontested. This aesthetic movement rose to acclaim in the 1830s and was the dominant national style by the 1850s. During these same decades, the U.S. government was implementing the aggressive removal of Native peoples from their homelands—policies that built on centuries of Indigenous displacement by European powers. This talk will consider the relationship between art, settler colonialism, and Indigenous peoples, understanding Hudson River paintings as landscapes of forgetting. Through the erasure of Indigenous peoples and contested histories, Hudson River landscape paintings played a key role in the settler colonial project of transforming Indigenous places into American spaces.


Reframing Empire Screening and Roundtable

February 22 @ 6:00 PM 

Thomas Cole’s life and work coincide with a pivotal period in American history. Before Cole’s eyes and on his canvas, the newly formed nation would find a vision of its identity born and its future questioned. American history fixates on 1776 and 1865, but in the period between lies a rich and under-explored territory. Join the Erie Canal Museum and WMHT in screening this new documentary, which explores the complex life and legacy of Cole, including its relationship to the Erie Canal. Following the screening, employees of WMHT and Renée Barry, a featured expert in the documentary, will hold a brief roundtable and Q&A session discussing the contents of the documentary.


2023 & 2024 Erie Canal Artists in Residence Roundtable

Thursday, January 11th, 2023 at 6:00 PM

Join the Erie Canal Museum and New York State Canal Corporation in hosting 2023 Erie Canal Artist in Residence Matthew Lopez-Jensen in presenting his work over the last year documenting the 524 miles of the New York State Canal System as well as our incoming 2024 Artists in Residence Judit German-Heins, Alon Koppel, and Clara Riedlinger, who will discuss their upcoming projects.


Hodinöhsö:ni Beadwork as a Cultural History

Wednesday, January 10 @ 6:00PM

The role of beadwork in Hodinöhsö:ni life has multiple purposes. It has been argued that the value of
beadwork is held in high regard because the parallel expression of wampum beads has key cultural and
political significance. Based on a survey of multiple examples of Haudenosaunee thought rooted in quillwork,
wampum, and glass beads, a critique of the importance of beadwork will be discussed with a focus on the mid-
1800’s up to the present. The attribution of “raised beadwork” will be considered as an important shift in
Haudenosaunee cultural perspective with microhistories featuring Tuscarora, Cayuga and Mohawk beadworkers. The work of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’ – Cayuga Nation (lower Cayuga) beadwork artist, Samuel Thomas, and other contemporary beadworkers will be addressed.

This talk will be presented by Jolene Rickard, an Associate Professor at Cornell University in the departments of History of Art and Art, and the former Director of the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program 2008-2020. She is from the Skarù·ręʔ / Tuscarora Nation, Hodinöhsö:ni Confederacy. She is a visual historian, artist and curator interested in the intersection of Indigenous art, cultural theory and the forces of settler colonialism.


Women in the World of Frederick Douglass

Wednesday, October 11 @ 6:00PM

In Women in the World of Frederick Douglass, Leigh Fought illuminates the life of the famed abolitionist off the public stage. She begins with the women he knew during his life as a slave: his mother, from whom he was separated; his grandmother, who raised him; his slave mistresses, including the one who taught him how to read; and his first wife, Anna Murray, a free woman who helped him escape to freedom and managed the household that allowed him to build his career. Fought examines Douglass’s varied relationships with white women-including Maria Weston Chapman, Julia Griffiths, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Ottilie Assing–who were crucial to the success of his newspapers, were active in the antislavery and women’s movements, and promoted his work nationally and internationally. She also considers Douglass’s relationship with his daughter Rosetta, who symbolized her parents’ middle class prominence but was caught navigating between their public and private worlds. Late in life, Douglass remarried to a white woman, Helen Pitts, who preserved his papers, home, and legacy for history.

By examining the circle of women around Frederick Douglass, this work brings these figures into sharper focus and reveals a fuller and more complex image of the self-proclaimed “woman’s rights man.”

Borderland Blacks: Two-Way Movement in Central and Western New York

Tuesday, August 8 @ 7:00 PM

In the early nineteenth century, Rochester, New York, and St. Catharines, Canada West, were the last stops on the Niagara branch of the Underground Railroad. Blacks in the two cities shared newspapers, annual celebrations, religious organizations, and kinship and friendship ties. Too often, historians have focused on the one-way flow of fugitives on the Underground Railroad from America to Canada when in fact the situation on the ground was far more fluid, involving two-way movement and social collaborations. Black residents possessed transnational identities and strategically positioned themselves near the American-Canadian border where immigration and interaction occurred. In all, this talk reveals that physical separation via formalized national barriers did not sever concepts of psychological memory or restrict social ties. This talk, featuring dann. J. Broyld, Associate Professor in African American History at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and author of the recent published Borderland Blacks, will be available both in person and virtually.

History & Shipwrecks, A Legacy of the Erie Canal: A New Survey of Seneca Lake Reveals Canal-era Shipwrecks.
Thursday, May 18 @ 7:00 PM
Canal freight boats, which like todays tractor trailers, became the backbone of commerce, were built by shipyards all along the Erie Canal. This dynamic inland transportation system helped define New York as the Empire State and transform New York City into the nation’s principal seaport. When the Seneca Lake Survey began in 2018, very few examples of these first generation canal boats had been located or studied. Researchers from the Finger Lakes Boating Museum working in partnership with several New York State agencies, and in anticipation of the Erie Canal Bicentennial Anniversary coming in 2025, initiated a new underwater survey in Seneca Lake. Today, Seneca Lake is known for its beauty and the vineyards that surround it. What is little remembered is that by the mid-19th century, Seneca Lake had become a significant link in the inland transportation system and a connection hub to three early canals. The Seneca Lake underwater survey was initiated to determine what of that historic legacy might still be contained beneath the surface.

For more than four decades, nautical archaeologist Art Cohn has located, documented and advocated for the public value of shipwrecks. Art is an Affiliated Scholar at the Institute of Nautical Archaeology & Texas A&M University and the Principal Investigator of the Seneca Lake Survey Project. Art is Director Emeritus of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and his talk will present the project’s research findings to date.