The Irish American Heritage Museum was officially opened on Tuesday morning in its new home in downtown Albany, New York.
Various government officials were present, including Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings and Deputy Consul General Jackie O'Halloran Bernstein, for the cutting of the Irish themed green ribbon to the new facility on Tuesday morning.
“It’s a historic occasion,” Ed Collins, chairman of the museum's board of trustees, told the Irish Voice.
“This was all set in motion many years ago,” he added.
Established in 1986, the museum was located for a quarter of a century in the village of East Durham, in the Catskills. The original museum had been opened during the summer, but the new facility will be open all year around. Officials began planning the move three years ago in an effort to boost attendance.
“In terms of a museum dedicated to preserving and presenting the contribution of the Irish here in America, we believe we are the only museum of our kind,” Collins said.
With an educational mandate from the state of New York, the museum will be open throughout the year and is hoping to attract school groups, as well as those interested in Irish American history.
Presenting a dynamic experience of Irish heritage, the museum offers various exhibits such as the photography display “Dublin: Then and Now” and its newest exhibit, “The Irish and the Erie Canal.”
The new location on 370 Broadway in Albany will also play host to several events, including a traditional Irish music session and a dance recital over the coming week.
“We will have events throughout the year,” Collins said. “You don’t have to be Irish to experience our museum.”
The museum also includes the Paul O'Dwyer Library and the Ancient Order of Hibernians' archives.
“We want people who come here who are Irish to leave being so proud of that heritage. However, we have another goal for people who are not Irish to leave being inspired by us to search and examine their own roots,” Collins said.
As well as demonstrating the strong links between Ireland and the US, Collins says the museum is about reminding the next generation about the importance of these ties.
“We live in age where our kids and grandkids are instantly connected to each other through their cellphones, iPads, and computers.
“We need to keep them connected to their heritage and to their roots, as our heritage is why we are who we are,” Collins said. “We welcome visitors with open arms”.
The museum will be open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.; and closed Monday and Tuesday. For more information visit www.irishamericanheritagemuseum.org.