A new exhibit, “IMAGINING MAKEBELIEVE: An Exhibition Honoring Arto Monaco” will open with a reception at the Tahawus Lodge Center (14234 Rte 9N, Main St, Au Sable Forks, NY) on Friday, July 22, 2011, 6-9pm.
From 1954 to 1979, the Land of Makebelieve captivated visitors young and old. This summer, the Arto Monaco Historical Society invites you to remember the Land of Makebelieve, an enchanting, child-sized theme park, and its creator, Arto Monaco.
Born in Ausable Forks in 1913, Monaco designed not only the Land of Make Believe but Santa’s Workshop and Charley Wood’s Storytown and Gaslight Village. The Arto Monaco Historical Society was created after Monaco’s death in 2003 to preserve his legacy.
The exhibition in Au Sable Forks will feature images and artifacts from the original theme park, formerly located in Upper Jay but now closed to the public. The exhibition will also include plans for a new park that’s under consideration for the former Land of Makebelieve site.
Photo: The Land of Makebelieve in 2006 before volunteers began work on the abandoned theme park.
The board of the Arto Monaco Historical Society is seeking a small number of qualified volunteers to help coordinate two special projects. The first, will be organizing and documenting collections that will be transferred to the Adirondack Museum and other institutions. The society is seeking well-organized and responsible individuals with museum, library, or related experience who can help coordinate the work of additional volunteers.
The second is restoring and maintaining historic structures and grounds. Members of the society are looking for well-organized and responsible individuals with construction, maintenance, or related experience who can help coordinate the work of additional volunteers.
The work of Arto Monaco in designing the areas theme parks has become a central part of the history of tourism in the Adirondacks. Monaco was a local artist who designed sets for MGM and Warner Brothers, a fake German village in the Arizona desert to train World War II soldiers, and later his own Land of Makebelieve. Monaco died in 2005, but not before the Arto Monaco Historical Society (AMHS) was organized (in 2004) in order to preserve and perpetuate Monaco’s legacy, assemble a collection of his work, and stabilize and restore the Land of Makebelieve which was closed in 1979.
Since they first went into the woods with tools in 2006, volunteers of the AMHS have hacked the now overgrown Land of Makebelieve out of the encroaching forests in hopes of saving what’s left of Monaco’s legacy there from the ravages of nature.
If interested, please contact Anne Mackinnon at [email protected].