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Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Erie Canal Discovery Center is home to 
Lockport artist Raphael Beck’s mural, “Opening
of the Erie Canal – Oct. 26, 1825.” 
Since 2005, the Erie Canal Discovery Center at Church and Ontario streets in Lockport has helped hundreds of thousands of visitors and residents learn about the historic Erie Canal and the Lockport locks. The Grigg Lewis Foundation of Lockport, which was instrumental in the creation of the facility, has just made it possible for the Discovery Center to continue operating in 2015.

“Gateways East and West,” the multi-media “movie” shown in the Discovery Center’s theater, has been a focal point of the museum since it opened. The film takes visitors through the 1820s history of the Canal, the Flight of Five and the Deep cut, and then has them step onboard a “packet boat” for a simulated trip through one of the 19th century locks.

Unfortunately, the 10-year-old technology that controlled the program and displayed the images failed during the fall of 2014. It was necessary to install up-to-date equipment, re-format the film and re-program the computer to work with them. This would be a major expense, something the Niagara County Historical Society - the non-profit organization which operates the Discovery Center - couldn’t afford.

The Grigg Lewis Foundation provided a grant to cover the cost of restoring the movie so the original production company could work on the project through the winter of 2015. Thanks to this significant grant, the Erie Canal Discovery Center has been able to re-open the theater just in time for spring school tours and the summer visitor season.

“We are very grateful to the Grigg Lewis Foundation for restoring the movie,” said Melissa Dunlap, the Historical Society’s Executive Director. “It is the primary feature of the Erie Canal Discovery Center, and plays a critical role in helping the public understand the importance of the Canal and the Flight of Five.”

“Gateways East & West,” several interactive exhibits, and the Charles Penney gallery of Niagara County artifacts can be seen at the Erie Canal Discovery Center, 24 Church Street in Lockport, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., seven days a week throughout the summer season, which began Friday. The Discovery Center is located adjacent to the historic locks on the Erie Canal in Downtown Lockport.

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