Jump to the intro.

You may have seen some of the original Albany Billiard Ball Company balls around town, but the enlarged photo of the billiard ball factory workers is a reminder that these were a product manufactured by people who lived in this community.

The first tulip crown and a tulip queen cape are displayed in front of an early photo of young women sweeping the streets -- a tulip festival tradition that looks pretty similar today.

Doug McCombs says some of the tulip queens complained that the original crown was too heavy. Incidentally, the crown was designed by Hajo Christoph, the same guy who designed the wrapping for this next item, an ornately wrapped roll of toilet paper.

Toilet paper on a roll-- patented in Albany -- was wrapped much prettier back in he day.

The ticket booth from Hoffman's Playland is something a lot of folks from the Capital Region will remember.

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Arrow Collars made in Troy

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A toboggan costume made for Huyberti Pryn, who later authored An Albany Girlhood, about her life growing up in the city. Toboggan hills were created in areas of the city to replace the more dangerous bobsled runs down Madison Avenue.

Mayor Erastus Corning's desk is represented, with a picture of him using the desk.

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So is William Kennedy's typewriter, complete with a page of a manuscript.

Before the blue bottles, Saratoga Water was known as Saratoga Vichy.


There's a bust of WWI hero Henry Johnson in front of a picture of his regiment returning from the war.

This box is made of wood from the original Capitol. It was made by the great grandfather of Jack McEneny, who worked on the new building.

Behind it is a photo of the construction of the new Capitol -- a reminder of the time and human effort it took to create such an extraordinary building.

From GE, a fancy refrigerator

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And one of the first microphones used on WGY.

McCombs said the museum staff was looking for a unique twist to represent Sam Wilson -- the businessman who served as the basis for Uncle Sam. They found it. Behold… Uncle Sam's chamber pot:

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chamber pot photo: Albany Institute

The Capital Region in 50 objects

albany institute capital region 50 objects composite

What do Nipper, a video game, a steel butterfly and a chamber pot have in common? They're all part of a collection of 50 objects that help tell the story of this area.

The Capital Region in 50 Objects opens on Friday at the Albany Institute of History and Art. The exhibit is inspired by the British Museum's History of the World in 100 Objects and the New York Times' History of New York in 50 objects. The exhibit opens on Friday with a reception at 5:30 pm, and will remain open through April.

Chief curator Doug McCombs says the selection process took about three years. First they surveyed the region's museums and cultural institutions to see what was in the collections that might be appropriate. Next they took public polls through the Times Union to help determine which topics people wanted to see addressed. Finally, they worked with an advisory committee to select 50 subjects and items that would represent those subjects. Among the topics highlighted: the Empire State Plaza, Albany Ale, industry, The Anti-Rent Wars, the Underground Railroad, literature, food, entertainment and broadcasting.

Each object is displayed with a background image that helps to tell its story -- and the images are just as interesting, in some cases even more interesting -- than the objects themselves.

Here's a sneak peek at what you'll see.

Photos are above in large format -- click or scroll all the way up.

The Albany Institute advertises on AOA.


Since I feel like a good friend of Huybertie Pruyn, I have to note the misspelling of her name as well as her spectacular style :)

I went to the opening of this on Friday, and it was so good, I plan on going again.

I recommend everyone else check this out, too. No matter how much you know about the area, you are bound to learn something new.

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