Established in 2016, the Rochester Institute of Technology-Genesee Country Village & Museum (RIT-GCV&M) partnership creates enriching opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and the public. As a collaboration between an entire university and a living history museum with an historic village, art gallery, nature center with five miles of trails, and historic base ball field, this partnership is like no other in the world. The RIT-GCV&M partnership was endowed by a gift from Philip and Anne Wehrheim in 2019.
The partnership is the pathway for university-initiated research that is situated at Genesee Country Village & Museum as well as museum-initiated research questions that are solved through RIT faculty and student-led problem-solving. In addition to such commitments to collaborate with one another on a specific project for a semester, year, or longer, brief opportunities such as field trips and guest lectures are within the partnership’s purview.
About Genesee Country Village & Museum (GCV&M)
History comes alive at Genesee Country Village & Museum in Mumford, NY, the largest living history museum in New York State. GCV&M invites visitors of all ages to step back in time to explore the 19th-century Historic Village with 68 buildings, costumed interpreters, and a variety of hands-on experiences. Visitors can tour the working brewery, the blacksmith, pottery, print shop, and tinsmith and visit the baby animals on the farm. Be sure to watch a meal being made in one of the kitchens or participate one of several daily gatherings to learn more about life in the 1800s. Stop by the John L. Wehle Gallery to see our outstanding collection of wildlife art and 19th-century clothing, plus rotating exhibits. Open May through October with special events all year long. Just 20 miles from downtown Rochester. Visit the website for hours and more information.
Learn about the partnership from a student, faculty, and leadership
The partnership is a collaboration overseen by a steering committee of RIT faculty and staff and leadership from Genesee Country Village & Museum. The committee meets every semester to brainstorm ideas, share updates, and plan for future initiatives. Each committee member also serves as a point person for internship and co-op opportunities for students at RIT seeking to gain experience at the museum. The partnership committee is coordinated by Dr. Juilee Decker, professor of history.
As a committee, three principles guide our work. We value
multi-disciplinary approaches to research and projects;
stewardship and sharing of resources; and creating opportunities
for enriching public engagement.
The partnership is built upon collaboration around projects that foster opportunities for experiential learning.
Some projects are museum-initiated and seek to tackle their most pressing challenges, including how to make Victorian-sized hands to display clothing from that era, how to calculate and mitigate potential damage to historic structures, and how to better understand visitors and their museum experiences. In these cases, teams of students from one or more disciplines approach the research question from a variety of angles before presenting the museum with a solution and, often times, carrying the project through.
Other projects are initiated by RIT faculty and students seeking to use the museum as a site for experiential learning and research. For instance, photography students use the museum as a site for photo shoots; a group of researchers from hospitality and tourism management in the Saunders College of Business are conducting market research on a project on authenticity and sincerity; and students working with faculty in liberal arts, art & design, and computing, are using AR and VR to enhance the visitor experience by creating a conversational avatar.
In addition, more than two dozen RIT students from across several colleges have served as interns at the museum, gaining valuable experience while contributing to the museum’s mission.
Projects have been undertaken with virtually every school within RIT and across many disciplines including museum studies, communication, journalism, photography, 3-D digital design, new media design, hospitality and tourism, marketing, engineering, architecture, and life sciences. The possibilities are endless!
Clearly, experiential learning is the key to the RIT-GCV&M partnership and through it, RIT students gain valuable experience while benefitting the museum and the community for years to come. Read more by listening to a recent podcast conversation about these kinds of opportunities for research, scholarship, and engagement.
RIT at the museum
Annually since 2017 we have invited the university community to attend the museum for free as part of GCV&M’s Agriculture Fair. This event is co-sponsored by RIT’s Center for Civic Leadership and Engagement as part of their “Into the Roc” community connections program for RIT students to go explore their surrounding community. Our sixth annual field trip will occur in October 2022. Discounted admission is available for friends and family of RIT faculty, staff, and students on that day.
RIT faculty with expertise in women’s history, heirloom seeds, canning and culinary science offer lectures as part of the museum’s classes onsite and online.
The Museum at RIT
In the spring, Genesee Country Village & Museum participates in the community-wide innovation and creativity festival, ImagineRIT. In 2022, multiple exhibits focusing on the partnership will be part of ImagineRIT, including DigiBackus.
Museum staff with expertise in costumes and apparel of the 19th century, art and cultural history, as well as farming, trades, and foodways (including items served from the brewery and confectionery in the historic village) are available to serve as guest speakers in classes. To find out more, contact Dr. Juilee Decker, email@example.com, Chair of the RIT-GCV&M Partnership.
The RIT-GCV&M partnership is supported by a gift of $1.3M from Philip and Anne Wehrheim in 2019. The gift marries Mr. Wehrheim’s interest in both institutions: he received a degree in business from RIT in 1966, and has been a long-time supporter of the museum. $1 million of the donation endowed the partnership and, as a result, funds support for interns and co-ops placed at the museum, as well as project support and stipends for faculty and students to work in partnership with the museum. The remaining funds are being used to design and build a new exhibit space in the SHED, slated to open in 2023.
The gallery, shown above in the latest design as of March 2023, will be located on the 1st floor of the SHED. The SHED will open in the Fall 2023.
To celebrate and sustain the goals of interdisciplinary, experiential learning that are hallmarks of the Rochester Institute of Technology-Genesee Country Village & Museum (RIT-GCV&M) partnership and the entirety of the RIT ecosystem, the partnership was endowed through a gift from Philip and Anne Wehrheim. As part of that gift, a gallery in the new university makerspace, called the SHED, will be created with the following four goals, with the first being the most important.
Showcase the work of the partnership – research, innovation, scholarship – that demonstrates interdisciplinary, experiential learning from across the university
Invite collaborators from all constituencies of the university (faculty, students, staff; individuals, classes, capstone project cohorts, clubs)
Fulfills donor stewardship by realizing the vision of Philip and Anne Wehrheim who gave funds for the creation of the partnership gallery
Encourage future donations to support the partnership
Benefits of the Partnership
As members of the RIT community, all current students, faculty, and staff receive free regular season admission to visit between May and October. They should present their RIT ID at Admissions and any guests will need to pay for their tickets. In addition, the RIT community receives discounted usage of meeting and event space at GCV&M.
To support activities, research, and scholarship in collaboration between RIT and Genesee Country Village & Museum, the partnership offers modest grants to RIT faculty, staff, and student organizations. For information, see the attached.
As a student, consider serving as a paid intern or co-op for the museum. These positions are available in a number of areas at the museum including education, marketing, curatorial, interpretation, and science. Interns and co-ops are placed year-round. Positions are posted every semester through RIT’s Co-Op and Career Services. They are also shared out with all committee members.
Or, are you pondering a capstone idea or your next project? Consider using the museum as a case study or site for your next iteration or case study.
As a faculty member, consider the museum as a field trip location, site for a project or event, or hands-on resource.
To find out more, contact Dr. Juilee Decker, firstname.lastname@example.org, Chair of the RIT-GCV&M Partnership.