October 22, 2015
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Opening of Seneca Art & Culture Center at Ganondagan State Historic Site

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Important part of New York history recognized and celebrated; view photo here


Governor Cuomo today announced the opening of the new $15 million Seneca Art & Culture Center at Ganondagan State Historic Site. The 17,300-square-foot Center tells the story of Iroquois contributions to art, culture and society for more than 2,000 years through specially designed interactive exhibits and historical artifacts. A collaborative venture between New York State, the Seneca Nation, Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and many private donors made the opening of the year-round interpretive facility possible.

“New York is proud to have a rich history, and this new visitor center will allow more guests to experience the contributions of the Seneca Nation to this region," Governor Cuomo said. "We are committed to making our parks and historic sites not only beautiful natural resources, but centers of learning about the past and about protecting the environment."

The educational, recreational and tourism destination will guide visitors inside the living culture, natural world and art of the Seneca located at their original homeland at Ganondagan. Once inside, approximately 300 historical artifacts will be featured in permanent and rotating exhibits that highlight five centuries of Seneca life.

In the Orientation Theater, visitors will enjoy the first-ever live action and animated film of “The Iroquois Creation Story”—a collaborative project among Ganondagan, Rochester Institute of Technology, Iroquois Social Dancers and Garth Fagan Dancers. Two classrooms, a multi-purpose auditorium, a catering kitchen, and a gift shop will also be on site.

Through the Governor’s NY Parks 2020 plan, New York State committed $3.9 million to the construction of the new center. In addition, two grants totaling $900,000 were awarded through the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. The remaining portion of the $15 million facility was made possible through private donations involving the Seneca Nation of Indians, the Rock Foundation, Thaw Charitable Trust, Davenport-Hatch Foundation and the Ithaca-based Ongweoweh Corporation.

“The Seneca refer to Ganondagan as the Town of Peace. This new center both exemplifies and illustrates that emotion and serves as a peaceful yet exhilarating experience into a culture that should be treasured and learned by all,” said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. “When visitors step onto the grounds at Ganondagan they immediately know they are encountering a memory and a spirit that will stay with them for a lifetime. Thanks to the new Center, visitors will come away understanding the Seneca people from a complete cultural, historical and environmental perspective.”

Located on 500+ acres, Ganondagan State Historic Site was declared a National Landmark in 1964 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. The site remains as the only developed and interpreted ancient Seneca town in the United States.

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb said, “The opening of the Seneca Art & Cultural Center at the Ganondagan State Historic Site affords visitors a unique opportunity to immerse in the rich history of the Iroquois Confederacy. The result of a massive private and public partnership, the Center will no doubt provide educational opportunities that will benefit generations. Native American art and culture is an integral part of the New York’s history and their stories, architecture and traditions are both enlightening and powerful. The stunning artwork will surely draw visitors from all over New York and beyond.”

Ganondagan State Historic Site Manager G. Peter Jemison said, “The opening of the Seneca Art & Culture Center is the most momentous event in my 30 years at Ganondagan. The past 15 years have been devoted to making the Center a reality, and now here it is. The new building has so much potential; we are just beginning to understand its impact on the region, the Seneca people and all the children of this State and Nation. As we open, we keep all those who helped make this happen in our mind as we are truly blessed.”

The Governor's NY Parks 2020 program is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. Preserving historic sites and cultural assets serves as one of the seven strategic priorities of the plan. The Governor's 2015-16 Executive Budget allocates $110 million toward this initiative.

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Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office

NYC Press Office: 212.681.4640

Albany Press Office: 518.474.8418