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Special Section: Inside Saratoga



When 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


When 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 donation.)

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.

“Motion 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; suggested donation.)

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 donation.)

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).

Saratoga Calendar



CONGRESS PARK (Saratoga Springs, 587-3241). Tue: Fiegel Brothers Orchestra.

REEL MEALS (86 Congress St., Saratoga Springs, 583-8883). Sun-Thu: Sinatra—An American Icon with Val Peters.

SARATOGA 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.

SARATOGA 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.

SARATOGA POLO CLUB (Skidmore College, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 580-8080). Fri: Doc Scanlon & Colleen Pratt (7 PM).

UPBEAT ON THE ROOF (815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 580-8080). Fri: Mudfunk.



9 MAPLE AVENUE (9 Maple Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-CLUB). Fri: Jazz Works. Sat: Sensemaya.

THE ALLEY BAR (Long Alley Road, Saratoga, 587-9766). Tue: karaoke with Mark the Shark.

BAILEY’S (Phila and Putnam streets, Saratoga Springs, 583-6060). Thu: Rick Bolton, the Dwyer Sisters. Fri: Bourbon Renewal. Sat: Headbomb. Sun: Nate.

BRINDISI’S RESTAURANT (390 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 587-6262). Fri: the Heaters. Sat: Bluz House Rockers, Benny and the Accents. Sun: Al Bruno. Tue: Richie Ortiz.

CAFFE 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.

CHAMELEON ON THE LAKE (251 County Route 67, Saratoga Springs, 581-3928). Thu: Sensemaya (6:30 PM).

CHEZ SOPHIE (Saratoga Hotel, 534 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 583-3538). Fri, Sun, Tue: Cole Broderick.

CIRCUS CAFÉ (392 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 583-1106). Sat: karaoke with A-Man Productions.

CLANCY’S TAVERN (43 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 584-1338). Mon: Big Tuna.

THE 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).

KING’S TAVERN (241 Union St., Saratoga Springs, 584-9643). Sat: Blackcat Elliot.

MARE RISTORANTE AND OTTO LOUNGE (17 Maple Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-6955). Thu, Sat: IMI. Fri, Mon: Robonic Raggae Band.

ONE 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.

PEABODY’S SPORTS BAR (Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, 583-4214). Thu: open mic with Mike Grutka.

SIRO’S (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.

VENUE 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.

Monthly 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.


Museums & Galleries

62 Beekman Street Bistro Gallery, 62 Beekman St., Saratoga Springs. 683-1631. Works by Zachary Lobdell. Through 8/31.

70 Beekman Street Fine Art Gallery, 62 Beekman St., Saratoga Springs. 542-6688. The Summer Show 2006—Salem Art Works. Through 9/6.

Gallery 100, 468 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-0818. Get Your Beverages Here, a juried exhibition. Through 9/10.

Gallery at Wesley, 131 Lawrence St., Saratoga Springs. 587-3600. Works by Barbara Riehle. Through 8/31.

National 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.

National 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.

Saratoga Cardiology, 6 Care Lane, Saratoga Springs. 587-4101. Works by Preston Babcock. Through 8/31.

Saratoga County Arts Council, Members Exhibition Hall, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Works by Judy Drake. Through 8/31.

Saratoga County Arts Council, Arts Center Gallery, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Saratoga: Inside Out, a juried exhibition. Through 9/3.

Saratoga Hospital Medical Library, 211 Church St., Saratoga Springs. 583-8301. Works by Viviana Puello. Through 8/31.

Saratoga Springs Amtrak Train Station, Station Lane, Saratoga Springs. Works by Marianne Szuberla. Through 8/31.

Saratoga Springs Public Library, 49 Henry St., Saratoga Springs. 584-7860. Works by Christina Sokolow. Through 8/31.

Saratoga 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.

Skidmore 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.

Wellness Center of Saratoga, 6 Care Lane, Saratoga Springs. 583-6821. Works by Pam Malsan. Through 8/31.


Farmers Markets

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.

South Glens Falls/Saratoga Farmers Market, Village Park, Spring Street, S. Glens Falls. Mondays, 11 AM-2 PM.

Saratoga Shots





Saratoga Race Course

Open daily through Sept. 4, except Tuesdays

Location 267 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-6200.

Admission $3 grandstand, $5 clubhouse; children under 12 free; seats are $6 and $7, respectively

Parking $10 per car at the trackside and $5 across the street at the Oklahoma Training Track. General parking is free.

Racing Nine or 10 races a day; pari-mutuel wagering on every race.

First Race Post Time is at 1 PM (except Travers Day, Aug. 26, when it’s at 12:30 PM).

Major Stakes Races the Alabama Stakes (Aug. 19); the Travers Stakes (Aug. 26); the Woodward (Sept. 2).

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