Oregon Magic: Albany Carousel and Museum

albany, oregon, horse, carousel horse
If you want to feel like a kid again, head to Albany. Here you will find and recapture the magic of your youth at the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum in Albany, Oregon. Board President Wendy Kirbey is today’s modern version of Peter Pan, leading a group of lost boys to Neverland. Only these merry group of painters and woodworking volunteers are not lost and carousel visionary Kirbey is all grown up. Kirbey’s grand plan is to leave the Albany Carousel and Museum behind her one day for her grandchildren and all children and adults to enjoy. Until that vision is complete, visitors are welcome to come to Albany to see a carousel work-in-progress.

Similar to Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh, Lightning (pictured in the top photo) has the honor of being the lead horse on the Albany Carousel. A fitting role for this patriotic, flag-wearing, white steed, Lightning will lead the 52 animal carousel located in Albany, Oregon. Marching three deep, along with two ADA compliant wheelchair accessible chariots, the carousel will feature horses, elephants, bears, frogs, cats and other assorted animals on a circular platform. The brightly colored animals have been brought to life in Geppetto’s workshop Albany’s Historic Carousel & Museum by an all-volunteer crew. Some with little prior carving experience.

bear, cindy purkey, albany historic carousel & museum
Cindy Purkey and Grizzly Berry. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

“It takes about three years from start to finish because we’re all volunteers,” notes Wendy Kirbey. “We pay so much attention to details. It’s what sets our animals apart.”

bear, albany historic carousel, albany, oregon
Grizzly Berry photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Albany resident Cindy Purkey is one of those volunteers who came to the project with limited carving skills and is now a skilled woodworker. She created Tuesday the Cat and is currently working on Grizzly Berry. Each animal has a sponsor and unique design. In the case of the glasses-wearing Grizzly Berry, the sponsor is an optometrist.

elephant, albany historic carousel, oregon
Daisy the elephant photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

“I liked carving and I wanted to learn to carve,” said Purkey. “We research the real animal and try to make it as real as possible.”

Yun Hsiang is a Chinese dragon. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown
Yun Hsiang is a Chinese dragon. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

The process of creating the animals, from drawing, to wood carving, to painting, is highly labor intensive. Many layers of paint are applied, along with a final layer of clear coat, to give the animal that glossy carousel look and feel.

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Little Sheba photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Need to know:
The Albany Historic Carousel is a community project composed of volunteers carvers and painters with a vision to create a working carousel.

Insider tip;
As a horse lover, I’ve written about the best carousels in California. I was delighted to learn of the National Carousel Association Convention. The convention will take place in California in 2017. For additional insider tips follow @Nancydbrown on Twitter and @Ridinghorseback and like Writing Horseback on Facebook.

If You Go:
Albany Historic Carousel & Museum (541) 791-3340
503 First Avenue West
Albany, Oregon 97321