ITHACA, N.Y. – The Tompkins Center for History and Culture will officially open its doors this weekend with a community celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony. Performances, speakers and exhibits will highlight all 12 partner organizations housed in the new center, which is located in the former Tompkins Trust Company building at 110 N. Tioga St. on the Ithaca Commons.
The event runs from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 10. It will kick off with a performance by The Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers at the Bernie Milton Pavilion followed by a 5:20 p.m. ribbon cutting at the center.
“This grand opening will resurrect life into the former Tompkins Trust Company bank previously occupying the space. This new collaboration will creatively and collectively share the rich history, culture and artistic fabric of the community,” a press release reads.
Representatives from local government, businesses and partner organizations will say a few words before visitors have a chance to explore the center’s three floors of gallery, exhibit and meeting spaces.
A trio from the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra and an Ithaca College Music ensemble will perform in the Community Arts Partnership’s ArtSpace, part of a shared gallery and performance space on the first floor.
Ithaca’s own Tommy plane, a World War I training biplane originally manufactured by the local Thomas-Morse Aircraft Corporation and meticulously restored by the Ithaca Aviation Heritage Foundation, will be on display in its new, permanent home.
The History Center in Tompkins County will open its galleries to the public, and the Downtown Visitor Center will welcome guests in its new location.
Representatives from all partner organizations will be on hand to answer questions: Discover Cayuga Lake, The Discovery Trail, The Tompkins Chamber, Visit Ithaca, The Dorothy Cotton Institute, The Susan M. Christopherson Community Planning Center, The History Center in Tompkins County, Historic Ithaca, Wharton Studio Museum, Community Arts Partnership, Ithaca Aviation Heritage Foundation, and the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra.
The first 1,000 guests will get a free copy of The Towns of Tompkins County, and author Jane Dieckmann will be present to sign books and answer questions.
Festivities at the center will continue Saturday as The History Center hosts a panel highlighting the region’s indigenous cultures. “Our Indigenous Past and Our Gayogo̱hó:nǫ Present” will discuss two exhibits on display in the atrium, “Gayogo̱hó:nǫ; We Are Still Here” and “Indigenous People and Tompkins County: 13,000 Years and Counting,” as well as the stylized animation inside The History Center’s exhibit hall.
The discussion will feature Debbie George on behalf of Sachem Sam George, Kurt Jordan, associate professor in Anthropology and American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program at Cornell University, and Joseph Karadin, creative director for Tessellate Studio.
“It has been crucial in the development of The History Center’s new exhibits to anchor all timelines in the county’s indigenous beginnings before the arrival of Europeans,” a press release states.
The panel will be held from 2 to 3:15 p.m. Saturday, May 11 and is free and open to all.
Featured image: Exterior view of the new Tompkins Center for History and Culture. (Provided photo)