About Behold! New Lebanon

The mission of BEHOLD! New Lebanon is to offer the public unprecedented access to contemporary rural American life — its people, their skills, ingenuity and heritage. Pioneering a new concept in community/economic development, it models an expanded role for museums in American culture.

Inspired by 250 years of innovative rural life in New Lebanon, New York, the citizens here are again pioneering a new idea: the nation’s first living museum of contemporary rural American life. BEHOLD! New Lebanon shares with visitors the heritage, skills, techniques and know-how of generations past, building  a bridge between a rich history and a sustainable future. You may have visited historic museums where costumed docents play characters from yesteryear and demonstrate skills of times long since past, but at BEHOLD! New Lebanon, you visit real people and learn now they live, work and play at their farms, barns, artisan studios, workshops, businesses and wooded trails.

We are farmers, florists, beekeepers, auto mechanics, car racers, gardeners, homesteaders, cattle breeders, foragers, toy makers, herbalists, naturalists, singers, volunteer fire fighters, hunters, writers, quilters, bakers — and much more.

  • Have you wondered how volunteers fight fires? Come meet our firefighters in the firehouse.
  • Have you ever heard of a heritage breed of cattle? We’ll introduce you.
  • Have you ever wondered if you could survive by eating what you find in the forest? We’ll show you how.
  • Want to make our New Lebanon Slab Pie? No problem — we have the recipe, and the chef.
  • Wish you could give your grandchild a toy to cherish forever? We’ll teach you how to make one.
  • Curious about what goes on behind the scenes of a car racing track? We’ll take you there and introduce you to our drivers.
  • Do you wonder who lives in small towns and how we spend our time? We’ll tell you.
  • And along the way, we’ll invite you to sing with us, dance with us, eat with us, learn with us, read with us, and chat with us.

For well over 250 years, people from all over the world have come to New Lebanon. They have sought cures in our waters and relief through our medicinal plants. They have found uplift in our various spiritual communities and intellectual stimulation in our schools, associations and library. They have organized help for those in need. They have been sustained by the bounty of our magnificent farm and grazing lands, waterways and forests. They have been invigorated by our fresh air. Now, as the public seeks new approaches to living in better harmony with the natural world, New Lebanon’s own history and culture provide a solid foundation for building solutions not only for our local community, but, as was historically true, for the wider world.

We invite you to learn, ask questions and appreciate our way of life, our skills, our experiences and our community spirit. We invite you to experience to fully engage with rural living.

We invite you to BEHOLD! New Lebanon.

Board of Trustees

Ruth J. Abram, President, founded the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York City, the International Coalition of Historic Sites of Conscience, the Women’s History Institute, the National Women’s Agenda Coalition, and Vertical Village, a better way of urban living. She has lived in New Lebanon since 2007.

Erminia Rasmussen, Vice President, has 30 years experience in business administration in both the profit and non profit sectors. Her life across the continental US and many years in Europe has afforded her a significant appreciation of diverse cultures. A resident of New Lebanon since 2010, she manages her own small real estate business in Massachusetts.

Monte Wasch, Treasurer, is a marketing strategy and sales management professional, with many years of experience in internet, magazine and directory publishing, and data processing industries. Previously, he served in New York City government as Deputy Director of Economic Development. A graduate of City College of New York, with an MBA from Pace University, he has lived in New Lebanon since 1997, and served a four-year term as a member of our Town Board. In his other life, he is a jazz pianist.

Heather Naventi, a resident of New Lebanon, Naventi opened Masterpiece Jewelry Studio in New Lebanon, New York in 1999. A member of the Jewelers of America, she is rated  # 1 by the Jewelers Board of Trade. The sole proprietor of Masterpiece, she is a bench jeweler who does repairs for jewelers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. She is known for her own jewelry design and custom work. Naventi is also an award winning equestrian.

Dolores D. Meissner started her career in the auction business in 1980 at The White Lily Lodge auction house in Cropseyville, N.Y., with her husband and brother. After eight years of working and training, she and her husband left to found Meissner’s Auction House in New Lebanon. The Meissners’ hard work, dedication to customer service, reliability and code of ethics has made them a leader in the auction field, where they are noted for giving excellent value.

Planning Committee

John Luckacovic and Eleanor Oldham have spent their careers working in practically all areas of the performing arts for more than 30 years. After moving full time to the Hudson Valley, they started their own management and production company, 2Luck Concepts. They specialize in producing the North American tours of celebrated music, dance and theatrical attractions from around the world. John and Eleanor have lived in Canaan since 2010.

Advisory Council (in Formation)

Honorary Chair Senator Chuck Schumer

Honorary Co-Chairs

Chris Gibson, Congressional Representative

Steve F. Mclaughlin, New York State Assemblyman

Kathleen Marchionne, New York State Senator

Colleen Teal, New Lebanon Town Supervisor

Council Members

Howard Commander, President, Mt. Lebanon Speedway

Jeff Daly, Chair, Shaker Museum/Mt. Lebanon

Betsy Gitter, Chair Board, New Lebanon Library

Max Gitter, Chair, New Lebanon Economic Development Council

Peggy Hawkins, Town Leader*

Mat Klafehn, Principal, New Lebanon Jr. High/High School

Sunny Kamar – Speedway Mini Mart

Fiona Lalli, President Grow the Valley (business association)

Sharon Moon, Co-Manager, Lebanon Valley Heritage Center

Peter Paden, Director, Columbia Land Conservancy

Mark Schaming, the Director of the State Museum, and the Associate Commissioner of Education for Museums_

Monte Wasch

Robert Webber, Country Squire Hardware*

David J. Weiser, Co-Director, Explore New Lebanon