Section: Inside Saratoga
the track is dark—heck, even when the track is open—why not
visit one of the Spa City’s fine museums?
By Kirsten Ferguson
the New York Racing Association took the unprecedented step
of closing Saratoga Race Course a few weeks ago because of
the sweltering heat, throngs of visitors who didn’t get the
memo were left wandering the streets of Saratoga Springs,
crammed into local stores and eateries, some seeming a tad
bewildered, unsure of how to spend the day. No one in his
or her right mind could seriously complain about the NYRA
decision; the welfare of the horses was at stake, and conditions
were far too oppressive for humans or beasts to spend much
time outside. Still, a few of the more boisterous visitors
expressed their pent-up energy and frustration by cruising
downtown streets and shouting out car windows. Who could blame
them, really? When you plan your vacation day around drinking
and yelling at horses, it can be hard to shift suddenly gears.
If such a weather-related cancellation ever happens again,
there are better options, though. An educational trip to one
or more of Saratoga Springs’ museums, all appropriately temperature-
controlled, would be a more positive way to spend an afternoon
on such a hot day. Any given Tuesday, known in Saratoga parlance
as a “dark day” during racing season, is also a perfect time
to explore what the city’s museums have to offer. In addition
to the climate control, you may manage to escape the crowds
as well: I visited a handful of Saratoga Springs museums recently
and found them all surprisingly quiet.
One of the newest additions to Saratoga’s museum stable is
the New York State Military Museum, which opened in 2002 in
the renovated armory on Lake Avenue. I’d never been inside
this place before. The prominent “Recruiter Inside” sign on
the sidewalk out front always scared me off a little; as I
opened the brick armory’s massive wood doors, I found myself
rehearsing getaway lines: “But, I’m far too old to enlist.
You raised the age limit? Well, I’m a pacifist and I have
a problem with authority . . . ” Upon entering, I found the
museum to be much brighter and airier than I expected, with
shiny blond floors, high rafters and twirling ceiling fans.
The bookstore’s August book fair (of both military history
and nonmilitary books) was worth a look. And, the recruiter’s
office was in an out-of-the-way location upstairs.
Exhibits covered the participation of New Yorkers in various
modern wars, from the turning-point Northeast battles of the
Revolutionary War to New York’s role in manufacturing tanks,
planes and ships during World War II (when the Empire State
churned out 12 percent of the entire U.S. war production!).
A prominent display about the contributions of women to the
Civil War, called “Lost Ladies—Heroines of the Home Front,”
added a welcome measure of inclusiveness. And there was plenty
of artillery for the kids: Who doesn’t like a good Civil War-era
Napoleon field gun? The place was largely vacant; sounds of
a crowd emanating from the back turned out to be a Red Cross
blood drive. (The New York State Military Museum is open from
10 AM to 4 PM; closed Monday. No admission charge; suggested
The National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame on South Broadway
was similarly quiet. Mannequins in nimble poses outnumbered
visitors by at least 10 to one. The backstage children’s gallery,
sure to please any budding dancer or kid who likes to play
dress-up, was empty. “Gems from the archives” are scattered
throughout the museum; you start out looking at Mary Martin’s
boots from Peter Pan and by museum’s end find yourself marveling
at “2 legit 2 quit” MC Hammer’s gaudy glitter-covered shirt.
comes from emotion” read a quote on the wall in the current
major exhibit: “Dancing Rebels—the New Dance Group, 1930-1960.”
The simple but astute words were spoken by Anna Sokolow, who
founded Mexico’s first modern dance company; they resonated
while watching any of the videos of classic dance performances
that were on display throughout the museum. I was surprised
to come upon a life-sized longhouse, the traditional dwelling
of the Haudenosaunee Indians. It was in an exhibit that pays
homage to the “Social Dances of the Six Nations”—also known
as the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy, whose traditional
homeland is the upstate New York region. (The National Museum
of Dance is open from 10 AM to 5 PM, Tuesday through Sunday;
Perhaps the meatiest museum in Saratoga Springs—meaning the
one you could spend the most time in—is the National Museum
of Racing and Hall of Fame, fittingly. This place is a must
for even the casual racing fan. Its galleries of memorabilia,
from victory trophies to champion horse blankets to jockey
Julie Krone’s tiny boots, impart the sheer thrills of racing.
The statue of Secretariat—people love that horse—in the courtyard
draws reverent stares, as does the real starting gate and
the full skeleton of a galloping thoroughbred. The dimly lit
Hall of Fame itself makes you feel almost like you’re entering
a place of worship, with plaques lining the recessed walls
like iconography in the chambers of a church.
The hot new attraction at the racing museum this year is the
racing simulator. For $5, you can experience the stress and
strain of an actual race by riding atop a stationary horse
that rockets along at actual racing speed for the length of
a typical race (approximately two and a half minutes). I must
admit, I wussed out of this one; it sounded pretty strenuous.
And flip-flops are a no go; you have to be wearing close-toed
shoes. (The racing museum, on Union Avenue, is open Tuesday
through Sunday from 10 AM to 4 PM; admission is $7 for adults
and $5 for students and senior citizens; children under 5
are admitted free.)
With just a half-hour left before closing time, I headed up
to the Tang Teaching Museum and Gallery at Skidmore College
on North Broadway. With its 12 exhibitions per year, you can
visit the Tang fairly frequently and find something new and
interesting each time. Mindful of the closing time, the incredibly
helpful guides shuffled me into the tiny wood theater that
forms the centerpiece of the museum’s And Therefore I Am
exhibit. The attendant promised that the film, an audio-video
installation by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller called
The Paradise Institute, would be dreamy, and dreamy
it was, in a very noirish, almost nightmarish way. See, you
put on these headphones that deliver binaural sound, and it
was so convincing that I kept turning around to see if someone
had come in to sit behind me in the otherwise empty theater.
Pretty neat. (The Tang Museum is open from 10 AM to 5 PM on
Tuesday to Thursday; from 10 AM to 7 PM on Friday; and from
noon to 5 PM on Saturday and Sunday. There is a suggested
Also worth visiting: the Saratoga Children’s Museum on Caroline
Street (open Monday to Saturday, 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM until
Labor Day) and the Saratoga Automobile Museum in Saratoga
Spa State Park (open daily 10 AM to 5 PM during the summer).
CONGRESS PARK (Saratoga Springs, 587-3241). Tue: Fiegel
MEALS (86 Congress St., Saratoga Springs, 583-8883). Sun-Thu:
Sinatra—An American Icon with Val Peters.
GAMING AND RACEWAY (342 Jefferson St., Saratoga Springs,
584-2110). Sun: Captain Squeeze and the Zydeco Moshers.
SARATOGA MUSIC HALL (City Hall, Broadway and Lake Avenue,
Saratoga Springs). Sat: Swing Dance, Sonny &
Perley’s Jive Five.
PERFORMING ARTS CENTER (Saratoga State Park, Saratoga
Springs, tickets: 476-1000). Thu: Guster, Ray LaMontagne.
Fri: 311, Pepper, the Wailers. Sat: Crosby,
Stills, Nash & Young.
POLO CLUB (Skidmore College, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga
Springs, 580-8080). Fri: Doc Scanlon & Colleen Pratt
ON THE ROOF (815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 580-8080).
9 MAPLE AVENUE (9 Maple Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-CLUB).
Fri: Jazz Works. Sat: Sensemaya.
ALLEY BAR (Long Alley Road, Saratoga, 587-9766). Tue:
karaoke with Mark the Shark.
(Phila and Putnam streets, Saratoga Springs, 583-6060).
Thu: Rick Bolton, the Dwyer Sisters. Fri: Bourbon
Renewal. Sat: Headbomb. Sun: Nate.
RESTAURANT (390 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 587-6262).
Fri: the Heaters. Sat: Bluz House Rockers, Benny
and the Accents. Sun: Al Bruno. Tue: Richie
LENA (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-0022). Thu:
open mic (7 PM). Fri: Bill Staines. Sat: Tom Winslow.
Sun: Jonathan Whitton. Wed: Solid Blue.
ON THE LAKE (251 County Route 67, Saratoga Springs, 581-3928).
Thu: Sensemaya (6:30 PM).
SOPHIE (Saratoga Hotel, 534 Broadway, Saratoga Springs,
583-3538). Fri, Sun, Tue: Cole Broderick.
CAFÉ (392 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 583-1106). Sat:
karaoke with A-Man Productions.
TAVERN (43 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 584-1338).
Mon: Big Tuna.
CLUB HOUSE (30 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 580-0686).
Fri-Sat: DJ Daniel Van D, hiphop, club mixes.
HORSESHOE INN (1 Gridley St., Saratoga Springs, 587-4909).
Thu: TS Ensemle (6:30 PM).
TAVERN (241 Union St., Saratoga Springs, 584-9643). Sat:
MARE RISTORANTE AND OTTO LOUNGE (17 Maple Ave., Saratoga
Springs, 583-6955). Thu, Sat: IMI. Fri, Mon: Robonic
CAROLINE STREET (1 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 587-2026).
All shows at 7 PM unless otherwise noted. Thu: Masters
of Nostalgia. Fri: Sarah Pedinotti. Sat: Joe
Gitto Duo. Tue: Chuck D’Aloia. Wed: Peg Delaney.
SPORTS BAR (Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, 583-4214).
Thu: open mic with Mike Grutka.
(168 Lincoln Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-4030). All shows
at 6 PM. Thu: Good for the Soul. Fri: the Refrigerators.
Sat: Barrence Whitfield. Sun: the Capital Soul Review.
Mon: Rich Ortiz. Wed: Popa Chubby.
NIGHT CLUB (30 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 580-0686).
Fri-Sat: DJ Daniel Van D, hiphop, club mixes.
Saratoga Comedy Club, 86 Congress St., Saratoga Springs.
8/18, 8 PM; 8/18, 8:30 PM: Eddie Clark. $15, $39.95
dinner and show package. 792-5233.
Diamond Dance, Saratoga Savoy, Saratoga Springs Music
Hall, City Hall, Saratoga Springs. 8/19, 8-11:30 PM; dance
lesson at 7:30. Lindy Hop event, with performance by Crazy
Legs and music by the Sonny and Perley’s Jive Five. $12; includes
dance lesson, refreshments and more. A portion of proceeds
benefit the Dance Flurry. 587-5132.
Dance Party, Saratoga Savoy Center of Dance, 7 Wells St.,
Saratoga Springs. 8/18, 8-11 PM: two rooms of music from Latin
to rockabilly. 587-5132.
Spa Little Theater, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga
Springs. 8/19, 8 PM: Sixth annual Saratoga Choral Festival
concert. $20, $15 seniors, students. 587-3330.
62 Beekman Street Bistro Gallery, 62 Beekman St., Saratoga
Springs. 683-1631. Works by Zachary Lobdell. Through 8/31.
Beekman Street Fine Art Gallery, 62 Beekman St., Saratoga
Springs. 542-6688. The Summer Show 2006—Salem Art Works. Through
100, 468 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-0818. Get
Your Beverages Here, a juried exhibition. Through 9/10.
at Wesley, 131 Lawrence St., Saratoga Springs. 587-3600.
Works by Barbara Riehle. Through 8/31.
Museum of Dance, 99 S. Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 584-2225.
Eleanor Rigby’s Resurrection: Images Inspired by Music’s
Icons. Through 9/6. Also, Dancers on the Edge.
Through 8/15. Also, Dance of the Iroquois, an exhibit
exploring the social traditions of the Native Iroquois; also,
Young Dancer, photographs by Mark Sadan; also Memoirs
of a Lake George Showboat Performer. Through 12/31.
Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, 191 Union Ave., Saratoga
Springs. 584-0400. California Images: the Racing Photography
of Bill Mochon; also, Golden Memories; also, paintings
from the Charles H. Thieriot collection. Through 12/31.
New York State Military Museum, 61 Lake Ave., Saratoga
Springs. 581-5100. Worth a Thousand Muskets: Civil War
Field Artillery. Ongoing. Also, Battleground for Freedom:
New York during the Revolutionary War. Ongoing. Also,
To the Standard: Civil War Cavalry Flags from the NYS Battle
Flag Collection. Ongoing.
Saratoga Automobile Museum, 110 Avenue of the Pines, Saratoga
Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs. 587-1935 ext. 20. John
Fitch: An American Racing Hero. Through 11/14. Also, East
of Detroit, and New York Racing exhibit. Ongoing.
Cardiology, 6 Care Lane, Saratoga Springs. 587-4101. Works
by Preston Babcock. Through 8/31.
County Arts Council, Members Exhibition Hall, 320 Broadway,
Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Works by Judy Drake. Through 8/31.
County Arts Council, Arts Center Gallery, 320 Broadway,
Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Saratoga: Inside Out, a
juried exhibition. Through 9/3.
Hospital Medical Library, 211 Church St., Saratoga Springs.
583-8301. Works by Viviana Puello. Through 8/31.
Springs Amtrak Train Station, Station Lane, Saratoga Springs.
Works by Marianne Szuberla. Through 8/31.
Springs Public Library, 49 Henry St., Saratoga Springs.
584-7860. Works by Christina Sokolow. Through 8/31.
Traveler, 400 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 583-2929. Works
by Cynthia Whitman. Through 9/4.
Saratoga Visitors Center, 297 Broadway, Saratoga Springs.
587-3241. Works by Judy Rosell. Through 8/31.
College, Schick Art Gallery, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga
Springs. 580-5049. Misleading Trails. Through 9/22.
Tang Teaching Museum and Gallery, Skidmore College, 815
N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-8080. Opener 11: Nina
Katchadourian: All Forms of Attraction. Through 12/30.
Also, And Therefore I Am, an exhibit that questions
the nature of human consciousness. Through 9/10.
Center of Saratoga, 6 Care Lane, Saratoga Springs. 583-6821.
Works by Pam Malsan. Through 8/31.
Malta/Saratoga Farmers Market, Dave Meager Community Center,
Route 9, Malta. Tuesdays, 11 AM-2 PM.
Saratoga Farmers Market, High Rock Park, High Rock Avenue,
Saratoga Springs. Saturdays, 9 AM-1 PM; Wednesdays, 3-6 PM.
Glens Falls/Saratoga Farmers Market, Village Park, Spring
Street, S. Glens Falls. Mondays, 11 AM-2 PM.
Open daily through Sept. 4, except Tuesdays
267 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-6200.
$3 grandstand, $5 clubhouse; children under 12 free; seats
are $6 and $7, respectively
$10 per car at the trackside and $5 across the street at the
Oklahoma Training Track. General parking is free.
Nine or 10 races a day; pari-mutuel wagering on every race.
Race Post Time is at 1 PM (except Travers Day, Aug. 26,
when it’s at 12:30 PM).
Stakes Races the Alabama Stakes (Aug. 19); the Travers
Stakes (Aug. 26); the Woodward (Sept. 2).