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Current Exhibits

South Gallery

Fibers of Our Lives: From Practical Craft to Decorative Art

For thousands of years, humans have used natural fibers, such as flax, wool, cotton, and silk, to produce everyday practical items and to create stunning decorative art. The earliest Anglo-European settlers of Ontario County in 1789, grew and processed flax for linen, and raised sheep for wool. From these, they spun yarn and thread, and wove fabric. Mills for carding, fulling, spinning, weaving, and dyeing quickly sprang up, shifting production away from the home. By as early as 1810, dry goods stores in both the villages of Canandaigua and Geneva offered a wide variety of imported fabrics and goods for clothing and household needs.

While hand sewing and fine needlework continued into the 20th century, the introduction of the sewing machine in about 1860 dramatically changed the speed and quantity of clothing and other items produced in the home and in retail settings. By the beginning of the 20th century, manufactured clothing and household items were available for purchase in local Ontario County stores and through catalogs.

On exhibit are early spinning wheels and wool winders, handmade linens and clothing, 19th century sewing machines, lace, embroidery, knit and crocheted items, and quilts and coverlets. Please stop by the OCHS museum to enjoy and marvel at the stunning items made and/or used by past residents of our county! You can also try your hand at weaving or creating a quilt square!

This exhibit will be open until April 2023.

North Gallery

Coral Reef & Materials

The “Coral Reef & Materials” exhibit included a 12-footcoral reef made from crocheted and knit materials. In addition to the coral reef are pieces of art made from various fabrics and material. The exhibit is open April 2 till July 7. Donations will be given to the Sea Turtle Conservancy. 


Ontario County Arts Council

The Ontario Arts Council presents “Colors of Our World” in the front North Gallery.

North-West Gallery

Apron Exhibit

Most TV moms of the 1950s and 1960s donned an apron, a reflection of what their female viewers typically wore around their homes. Generations of women routinely pulled on a bib or a half-apron, which they had stitched by hand or, later on, by machine. Embroidery, trims and lace often embellished both practical and dressy aprons. Due to their popularity, aprons were manufactured in factories, including one in Canandaigua, to sell in department and gift stores across America and in Europe. This exhibit showcases 16 of those aprons made right here in Ontario County. It will allow any visitor to reminisce about the memory of the women who wore them and the people who made them. The exhibit will be open until August 31. 

Lower Level

Pioneer Kitchen Exhibit

When the Ontario County Historical Museum was built in 1914, a “Pioneer Kitchen” period room was installed. Although education programs are held in this space, its appearance has changed very little in 100 years.

NewW - Exhibits PioneerKitchen1