Museums & History

With all the wonderful palate-pleasing experiences to be enjoyed in Schuyler County and the Finger Lakes Region, visitors sometimes seek out a proverbial palate cleanser, fun and engaging experiences at any one of the many museums and historical destinations available throughout the region. 

Watkins Glen's rich and storied automotive history began in 1948, with Cameron Argetsinger, a law student at nearby Cornell University who often stayed at his father's summer home on Seneca Lake. Argetsinger, an early member of the SCCA, proposed an amateur road race to be called the "Watkins Glen Grand Prix" to the Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce. Emboldened by the community's enthusiastic response to his idea, Argetsinger mapped out a 6.6-mile course using mostly paved roads through the village of Watkins Glen, SCCA sanctioning was obtained, and a keystone component of the village and county's prosperity was born. Today the International Motor Racing Research Center (IMRRC) in Watkins Glen helps sustain an enduring interest in car racing, providing residents and visitors alike with access to an incredibly deep and broad body of content across various media. Together with annual events like the Village Grand Prix Festival, and of course the enormous Watkins Glen International race track, racing culture in Schuyler County has never been more potent. 

Not far from the IMRRC facility are the Schuyler County Historical Society, Brick Tavern Museum, and Wickham Rural Life Center. The Schuyler County Historical Society, located in Montour Falls and just south of Watkins Glen, maintains three properties and is headquartered at the Brick Tavern Museum, a large brick Federal-style building built in 1828 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Brick Tavern Museum and the adjacent Wickham Rural Life Center have exhibits relating to Schuyler County’s rich history. Their collections include artifacts, books, and documents concerning the county's people and events, of value to both genealogists and researchers. The Lee School Museum, a one-room school on Route 14 south of the Brick Tavern Museum, is also on the National Register of Historic Places, and enables patrons to more fully appreciate how much school life has changed in just a few generations. 

Only about a half hour drive south of Watkins Glen is the world-renowned Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) where visitors can discover the history of glass, locally and from around the world, as well as its substantial gallery of modern works, hands-on exhibits and demonstrations. And only a handful of blocks from CMoG is the Rockwell Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate dedicated to uniquely American art, artists and culture are preserved and interpreted as an enduring focal point for engaging, dynamic exhibitions and educational events. Also only about half an hour west of Watkins Glen, in their sister village of Hammondsport at the base of Keuka Lake is the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum, celebrating this storied aviation pioneer, motorcycle engineer, and daredevil, as well as inventor of the RV!