Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Local historian Doug Farley has been appointed director of the Buffalo-based Museum of disABILITY History.
His departure last month from the History Center of Niagara County, where he was the director of development and its most popular holding, the Erie Canal Discovery Center, came as a bit of a surprise to people in Lockport who associate him with all things Erie Canal-related.
In addition to his duties with the History Center, Farley long penned Erie Canal Discovery, a weekly, colorful local history report in the Union-Sun & Journal, and volunteered as a member of various committees including the city-based Erie Canal Task Force, the Western New York Tourism Task Force and the City of Lockport Tourism Task Force.
Farley, a Newfane resident, went after the directorship of the disABILITY History museum because it offered him a new set of “challenges,” he said this week.
Museum development is a calling, and eight years after Farley helped open and grow the Discovery Center, he felt he’d met the goals that he set for himself there. It was time to move on.
“I loved my job at the History Center, but I realized I needed one more move to finish up my career on the highest possible plateau,” Farley said. “The move to the Museum of disABILITY History ... will give me that sense of excitement that primes my pump to keep going ever upward.”
The museum is a project of People Inc., the largest non-profit human service agency in Western New York. Its mission is to collect, preserve and display artifacts relating to the history of people with disabilities: their lives, triumphs and struggles, as well as society’s reactions.
Farley has been hired to improve the museum’s sustainability, according to People Inc. spokesman Nicole Forgione. That means recruiting member supporters, cultivating a corps of volunteers and marketing the museum to drive increased touring.
Given the museum’s limited budget, Farley’s challenge is to find “innovative” ways to meet those goals. He’s already plotting development of interactive, hands-on exhibits and a virtual reality sensory experience for visitors.
The museum “is a small place with lots of potential and a story worth telling,” Farley said. Of his new job, he added, “I love it. It’s everything I hoped it would be.”
Farley will remain a member of the Erie Canal Task Force, which he currently chairs and the Western New York Tourism Task Force, he said. He’ll be appointed a member of the History Center’s board of directors later this year.
The Museum of disABILITY History, at 3826 Main St., Buffalo, near the UB South Campus, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday
On Aug. 10, it will host “Ivan the Invacarnival,” a kids’ day event centered around the Ivan the Invacar book series about children with disabilities and how they gain independence with adaptive equipment. For more information, visit www.museumofdisability.org, or call 629-3626.