Adirondack Museum director reflects on first year

Adirondack Museum Executive Director David Kahn

Adirondack Museum Executive Director David Kahn

— David Kahn’s first year as the Adirondack Museum’s executive director went “very fast,” and the culture shock of moving from sunny San Diego to the snowy Adirondacks wasn’t as harsh as he expected.

“There were all these things that people were warning me about, that I’d be lost in the drifts, and I don’t think we saw any snow until the end of January,” Kahn said. “And then the next big warning was the blackflies were going to eat me alive. I never saw a blackfly ... So I guess I’ll get mine at some point, and things have gone pretty well.”

Kahn celebrated his one-year anniversary on Sept. 5, and without snow or blackflies to distract him, he was able to concentrate on moving the Adirondack Museum into a new era of interpreting history for the masses.

When Kahn was hired, the Adirondack Museum’s trustees indicated that they wanted to take a fresh look at their exhibits and programs and think about where they should be headed in the future. And so they’ve spent a lot of time working on a master plan, which is expected to be finished by the spring of 2013.

“That will give us a blueprint as to where we want to head with some of our exhibits,” Kahn said, adding that they always look for ways to make exhibits more interactive and engaging for contemporary audiences.

Museum staff spent some of the summer conducting audience research, including an online study and “intercept” interviews with residents and visitors in several Adirondack communities, including Blue Mountain Lake, Old Forge, Lake George, Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.

“It’s always interesting doing this sort of work because different demographic segments have different perspectives as to what they’re interested in,” Kahn said. “Older visitors are really interested in Great Camps, and younger people not so much. In some cases, they didn’t even know what they were. Younger adults were very interested in winter sports, and older folks not so much.”

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