Walter Elwood Museum

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Walter Elwood Museum

Walter Elwood had been an educator in the Greater Amsterdam School District (GASD) in the early 1900’s.

Having traveled around the world as a young man, Mr. Elwood became an avid collector of ethnographic materials and natural history items from every corner of the globe.

He started his “museum” in the Fifth Ward School on the south side of Amsterdam, and is fondly remembered by many in our community, carrying interesting materials from school to school in an effort to educate students with authentic artifacts and objects. Upon his death in the 1950’s, he stipulated that the collection should be left to the Greater Amsterdam School District.

Our extensive assortment of approximately 25,000 artifacts fall into four categories: multicultural, Victorian, natural history, and items that relate to Mohawk Valley’s colorful industrial past (documentary, photographic and tangible).

Since its inception, the museum has served to link school curriculum to the dynamic richness of our common cultural and historic heritage, and has functioned as an intellectual and artistic center for Amsterdam and the Mohawk Valley. We offer interactive learning environments, educational classes, and a spectrum of cultural events. We also feature various new exhibits, guest lecturers, and summer school classes in science, math and natural history.

The Walter Elwood Museum of the Mohawk Valley (formally the Mohawk Valley Heritage Association or MVHA) was formed in 1981 to protect this small, school-owned museum.

We have chosen a new board of trustees to oversee the interests of the museum, have restructured our organizational policies, have received a provisional charter from the New York State Department of Education. We have worked closely with experienced consultants to map out our course for the future, and with vigorous fundraising efforts, are poised for significant growth.


The Walter Elwood Museum is a gateway to learning using the past to illuminate the present. Utilizing the stories and artifacts of local experience, we examine history and culture in all its dimensions. We offer access to information through educational programs, unique collections and creative activities to enrich our understanding of ourselves and each other.


As a cultural center, the Museum inspires curiosity, creativity and understanding of our past and present. The Museum promotes a dynamic, rich and unified community that values its heritage.


To provide educational programming and events to the youth and families of the Mohawk Valley by highlighting our area’s rich history and culture, to foster in all a love of exploration, learning and action as our founder, Walter Elwood, characterized best and to preserve our collections for generations to come.

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