How does the much-loved little robot from Star Wars connect with Essex County History? Answer: He is “ArtoD2,” built by Essex County native Arto Monaco, creator of the Land of Makebelieve. Monaco’s work is a featured exhibit running through October 13 at the Adirondack History Center and Essex County Historical Society in Elizabethtown.
Lynda Denton, Monaco’s niece and long-time assistant, says the model was constructed “just for fun” soon after the first Star Wars movie came out. It was operated with a model airplane remote control and included a tape with sound effects.
Arto Monaco and the Land of Makebelieve is a multi-media exhibit of the best of the museum’s 600-piece collection of photographs, souvenirs, artifacts and videos relating to the amusement park founded by Monaco in 1954.
Designed as a place where children could let their imaginations run free; the park featured a steamboat, train, castle and western town. In 1979, flood damage forced the site to close. In addition to the Land of Makebelieve, Monaco had a hand in designing facets of Santa’s Workshop in Wilmington, as well as the park now known as The Great Escape in Lake George.
The Adirondack History Center Museum is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. every day until October 13. Admission is $5, with discounts for seniors and students. Children under 6 are admitted free. Additional information may be found at www.adkhistorycenter.org, or by calling 518-873-6466.
Founded in 1954, The Essex County Historical Society serves to preserve and celebrate the history of Essex County through collections, exhibits, education and outreach programs.
Photo by Kaleigh Ratliff.