I recently visited the Niagara Science Museum and found it to be an exciting place. Nick Dalacu has put together an amazing collection of instruments and equipment that span decades of our industrial past. Industry was the driving force of the City of Niagara Falls for over 100 years and Nick has chosen a very historic building to house his museum. The site is the former National Carbon office building of Union Carbide. The company was founded in 1896 in Niagara Falls and it was Union Carbide’s history that first brought me to Nick Dalacu. I am the City Historian of Niagara Falls, New York, and I have done considerable research on the early industrial development related to hydropower at Niagara. Additionally, my wife and I run a B&B in the National Register designated James G. Marshall House (Park Place B&B). James G. Marshall was an early industrialist, inventor and one of the founders of Union Carbide. He later went on to run all of Union Carbide’s North American facilities. Nick and I believe that he had an office in what is now the Niagara Science Museum building. The building is located in an area of the City where major industrial development occurred throughout the 20th Century. Some active plants remain, but what intrigues me most are the “ghosts” of the past that can be found there. Near the site is an amazingly beautiful ruin that once housed a large part of Union Carbide’s activity. Being in that neighborhood makes one feel the energy that once drove the City. You can almost hear the machines and the furnaces that fueled the City’s economy for more than a century.
I have followed Nick’s work on the museum from the very beginning and I really like what has developed. The exhibits are arranged in semi-enclosed spaces that allow for a focus on what is happening while still experiencing the museum as a whole. There is even an operating printing machine that once belonged to a much respected printing company in the City. For decades we locals affectionately called it “the Gutenberg”, but it is truly a wonderful operating antique. That is something that can be said of much of the museum’s displays: they operate for you to understand what they did, even including a demonstration laboratory.
One cannot speak of the Niagara Science Museum without mentioning Nick Dalacu. Inventor, professor, thinker, lover of history...all of this is Nick and yet it does not explain the passion he has for science: the science of both ‘then’ and ‘now’. Nick has made the development of the Niagara Science Museum a cherished goal in his life and I believe that all of us can benefit by visiting the result of this passion. I look forward to going back and if you want to really understand the history of our City, I believe that you should put this on your lists of ‘musts’ during a visit to Niagara.
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