Welcome! The History Center is requesting that all visitors continue to wear masks inside the Tompkins Center for History & Culture. Our visitors include young audiences and others who are unable to be vaccinated. We appreciate your respect and awareness in following our Health & Safety Protocols to keep all our visitors safe.
Wednesday- Saturday 10AM - 5PM
CLOSED - Sunday-Tuesday
**Or by special appointment. Please contact us if you'd like to schedule a visit outside our normal hours.
*Please be aware our hours and open days may change due to COVID-19.
Our Exhibit Hall is a state of the art museum highlighting the history of Tompkins County and the Finger Lakes region thorough interactive displays with artifacts from our extensive physical archival collections.
**PLEASE NOTE OUR HOURS HAVE CHANGED DUE TO COVID-19**
To reserve your preferred time please schedule your visit ahead of time online. Masks must be worn at all times inside the building.
Our Passage Through Time walkway begins with a video representation of the Gayogo̱hó:nǫ' (generally known by the mispronunciation Cayuga) creation myth. This video was was made in collaboration with local representatives of the Gayogo̱hó:nǫ' Nation. We collectively acknowledge that Tompkins County is located on the traditional, ancestral, and contemporary lands of Indigenous people. All Native American items currently on display in our museum are on loan from the Cayuga Nation.
The timeline highlights snippets of Tompkins County history from the building of the famed Clinton Hotel, to the election of Svante Myrick in 2011, Ithaca's first African-American Mayor.
Our six P.L.A.C.E. (People, Land, Architecture, Culture, and Enterprise) Exhibit Towers each explore two local aspects of history. Digital displays, and pull out drawers with additional artifacts are present at each tower. The tower displays within the Exhibit Hall change twice a year, while the tower display in the Tompkins Center atrium changes every 3-4 months.
Our main attraction is our permanent exhibit of the 103 year old Tommy Plane, which visitors see as soon as they enter the hall. Tommy is a Thomas Morse Scout S4-B which was manufactured in Ithaca by the Thomas Morse Aviation Corporation in 1918. The plane was painstakingly restored by the Ithaca Aviation Heritage Foundation over 14 years, and took its centennial flight over Ithaca on September 29th 2018. The plane is still flight worthy, however we don't have plans to fly it again...yet.
Explore our Story Vault, housed in one of the original bank vaults of the Tompkins Trust Company, and listen to oral histories from residents and visitors to Tompkins County. You can even take the time to record your own!
Smaller exhibits change on a rotating monthly basis, with museum wide exhibit changes twice a year.
Explore the Museum with Kids!
The Children's Education Area is a partial replica of our famed 1827 Eight Square Schoolhouse located in Dryden. Eight Square is the site of living history programs for every 4th grader in the county. Our miniature Eight Square in the museum hall has period dress-up clothing, slates, and school materials for children to explore how it would feel to be a student in Tompkins County over 150 years ago.
We have Exhibit Hall Scavenger Hunts, museum activity guides and local-history themed coloring sheets available at the front desk!
We also invite families to reserve our "Explore the Museum" hands-on activity crates with a $5 donation, or to check out our local history themed children's books during their visit!
CURRENT EXHIBIT HIGHLIGHTS
Explore our monthly "Guess the Artifact" exhibit by the front entrance.
Our "Passage Through Time" exhibit begins with the Gayogohó:no’ (Cayuga) creation story and highlights excerpts from Tompkins County history up to the election of Ithaca's first African-American mayor Svante Myrick in 2011.
Explore the six Exhibit Towers which each have two sides, pull-out drawers with artifacts from our collections, and interactive touch screens. These exhibits change on a bi-annual basis.
Please explore the local Inclusive Recreation Resource Center's profile of our handicap accessibility here.
This profile includes detailed information regarding the physical layout of the Exhibit Hall and Research Library, and alternate methods for engaging with our exhibits and materials for individuals with impaired sight or hearing. Print out visitor guides and auditory visitor guides can be requested at the docent desk to the right of the front entrance to the Exhibit Hall.
We do not have a parking lot associated with our building, however visitors with physical and/or movement impairment are encouraged to contact us at email@example.com in advance, and when possible they may use one of two staff parking spaces by the back entrance of our building. These spaces may not be used without advance communication.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or feedback.