Plans for New Visitors’ Experience in advance of Erie Canal Bicentennial

Interactive, Multimedia Exhibits at the Longshed Building will be the Starting Point for Visitors During 2025 Erie Canal Bicentennial Commemoration

In order to greet visitors to Buffalo’s celebration of the Erie Canal Bicentennial, Governor Hochul has announced that there will be new interactive, multimedia exhibits installed at the Longshed* building at Canalside.

As Buffalo continues to embrace and celebrate its waters, for the first time in generations, there is a renewed and very palpable vibrancy emerging. To accentuate that vibrancy, the collection of exhibits – “Waterway of Change: A Complex Legacy of the Erie Canal” – will occupy the space left behind by the replica Erie Canal Boat Seneca Chief, which will become a floating classroom along Buffalo’s waterfront. The Seneca Chief will be relocated on May 7, upon which time work will begin on constructing the new visitors’ experience inside the 2,900-square-foot Longshed. Work on the exhibits will be completed in time for next year’s Erie Canal Bicentennial.

“Waterway of Change will share the remarkable story of the Erie Canal and the area now known as Canalside with visitors,” said Governor Hochul, who also pointed out that Buffalo would play host the World Canals Conference in 2025. “As the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal approaches in 2025, this visitors experience will draw more people to Buffalo’s waterfront and help them connect to its history in a new and participative way.”

“Waterway of Change: A Complex Legacy of the Erie Canal” will:

Act as a gathering space and starting point for visitors beginning their Bicentennial Commemoration journey

Explain and detail how Canalside’s timeline, from its beginnings as traditional homeland of the Haudenosaunee to the development of a rural village at the time the Erie Canal opened in 1825, to a thriving port and shipping hub at the end of the 19th century

Include interactive multimedia exhibits for visitors of all ages and abilities, sharing Buffalo’s Erie Canal story in an inclusive and diverse way through the use of short films, touch screens, audio, historical artifacts and dramatic lighting

Feature a series of outdoor interpretive exhibits will also be created at towpaths along and around the canals

Local Projects, a multi-disciplinary exhibition and media design firm based in New York City, has been working with the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation to envision the visitors’ experiences, along with Buffalo’s Hadley Exhibits, with help from the Buffalo History Museum. Once open, the collection of exhibits will be attended by the general public, visitors to Buffalo, as well as by students participating in field trips from local schools. Therefore, content will meet New York State Education Department standards for Grade 4-12 educational experiences. 

ECHDC Chairperson Joan Kesner said, “Waterway of Change will be the premier attraction at Canalside when we mark the historic 200th anniversary of the opening of the Erie Canal in Buffalo next year. We’ll be hosting visitors from around the globe, as well as our neighbors across Western New York, at this visitor experience and we are excited to share the first renderings of this beautiful and educational space in the Longshed. ECHDC also will be offering fun, thoughtful, and hands-on programming located on the lawns, ruins, and towpath areas. We have lots more in the works, enjoyment for all ages, all abilities—history buff or not, you may just want to make all of Summer 2025 a Canalside staycation!” 

*In 2020, a wood frame structure at the northern end of the Central Wharf, now called the Longshed Building, was completed. The Longshed Building structure reflects on the history of the wharf location by incorporating elements from the Joy and Webster Storehouse that was situated on the site in the early 1800s. Work on the building, which incorporates select interior modifications to incorporate a small office, transient boater shower rooms, and public restrooms, is currently being completed.

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