Since it was founded in 1967, Garvies Point Museum and Preserve has featured some of the most popular exhibits on the North Shore. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the museum continues to attract both new and returning visitors.
“We have visitors who said they were here when the museum first opened in 1967,” said Veronica Natale, the facility’s supervisor. “It’s great to see that we get that kind of recognition.”
Natale added that many returning visitors bring their children. “That’s one of the great things about our exhibits,” she said. “I guess sometimes people forget what it’s like to be a little kid. But when parents come to our museum, they’re just as excited to see the exhibit as their children.”
Among the original exhibits that have become the museum’s main attractions are the culture of Native Americans and the geology of New York state and Long Island. Natale said that exhibits like the Interactive Woodland Village, which opened in 2009, have helped the museum attract people of all ages. “Exhibits like that really bridge the gap between older and younger people,” she said. “It proves that there’s something here that anyone can enjoy.”
She added that although the museum’s collections have grown and its summer workshops have become more sophisticated, the biggest area of growth has been its educational programs. When it first opened, it offered only two or three programs for local schools. Now there are 16. Natale said she hoped to see the same kind of growth in the temporary exhibits.
“We’re at a place now where we have more staff members and more volunteers who can help to continue what this museum started 50 years ago,” she said. “Also, we’re looking for more activities that we can do to become more involved in the community.”
The museum’s volunteers range in age from 5 to 90. From running programs to organizing major events, they have shaped the culture of Garvies Point. Natale said that this has made her experience at the museum even more enjoyable. “We’ve had volunteers who work with us during the summer, while others have worked with us for over 25 years,” she said. “They put their words into action.”
Natale grew up in Glen Cove, and got to know the museum as a child. Her mother, Kathryne, had worked there. Reflecting on her childhood, Veronica said it was special for her to see everything come full circle.
“There’s so many things here that I remember as a kid,” she said. “Now that I’m on the other side and seeing how things work behind the scenes, I really have an appreciation for what my mom used to do.”
Asked what the next 50 years might bring, Natale explained that the success of the museum depends on the community’s support, which she believes will endure. “People like to have cultural places in their community, and there’s a lot of people here who want to ensure that we stay open for future generations,” she said. “That’s the mission of the museum.”