Roger Tory Peterson Institute Reopens Six Months Following Fire

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JAMESTOWN – After six months of restoration and clean-up following a fire in December, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute reopened over the weekend.

Members of the community celebrated the center during a party on Saturday, where CEO Arthur Pearson commended the Jamestown Fire Department, local contractors, his staff and volunteers for their efforts to preserve the building, and its historic artifacts.

While the fire was limited to the attic space, the sprinkler system caused major water damage.

“The entire basement was flooded and then we probably had about forty percent of the floor space in the museum covered,” explained Pearson. “So that was the entire gift shop, that was our main art gallery, that was some of our archival spaces even.”

Staff and volunteers helped relocate Peterson’s life work so quickly that no artifacts were destroyed. After the exhibit was relocated to safe storage, contractors with G. L. Olson  got to work spending six months restoring the architecturally impressive building on Curtis Street.

Pearson celebrated the reopening of the Institute as a way to bring the community together.

“It’s not just about rebuilding a building, and it’s not just about sparing a collection, but it’s about utilizing the building, the collection, and all the artwork to help give even more back to the community, and that’s what we’ll be doing over the next several years,” said Pearson.

The community was excited to be back to the Institute, including Renate Bob.

“It would’ve been terrible if we had lost it, so it’s great that they were able to salvage it and make it come back the way it is now,” explained Bob.

As for what’s next, Pearson says his group has big plans.

“In addition to the exhibitions which are the backbone of the work that we do, there’s gonna be a lot of great programs to go with it, with a lot more partner groups,” explained Pearson. “So for the first time, we’re gonna have a partnership with the Seneca Iroquois National Museum, for instance. So it’s gonna be great, first of all, to bring in more partners for an even richer community.”

The Roger Tory Peterson Institute is open seven days a week during the summer. Learn more at


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