The Albany Institute of History & Art (AIHA) is dedicated to collecting, interpreting, preserving and promoting the history, art, and culture of Albany and the Upper Hudson Valley region. Located on Washington Avenue in downtown Albany, the museum was founded in 1791 and is one of the oldest institutions in the country. The Institute acts as a primary repository for the heritage of the region and features a wealth of nationally significant collections and library holdings, ranging from fine arts, furnishings, manuscripts, photographs, personal objects, documents, and personal papers. The Albany Institute of History & Art features a significant collection of Hudson River school paintings, as well as permanent exhibitions of art from ancient Egypt, and 19th-century American sculpture.

1.History & Architecture

History & Architecture
© Albany Institute of History & Art (AIHA)

The Albany Institute of History & Art (AIHA) was established in 1791 as a learned society known as the Society for the Promotion of Agriculture, Arts, and Manufacturers which acted as an advisory board for the state legislature on how to improve agricultural production for more than 30 years. In 1823, the Society merged with the Albany Lyceum of Natural History to become the Albany Institute, which focused on the natural sciences, such as astronomy, geology, paleontology, and mineralogy. The Albany Institute then changed direction once again and became the Albany Historical and Art Society in 1851, and 50 years later the Albany Institute of History & Art, a renowned regional art museum which it proudly stands as today.

The Albany Institute of History & Art (AIHA) complex consists of three architecturally significant buildings. The late 19th-century Rice Building was designed by Richard Morris Hunt in the Beaux-Arts style and is the only freestanding mansion of its kind in the city. The main Museum building was designed by local architect Marcus T. Reynolds and built in the 1920s in a Classical Revival style, and the third building is a modern glass structure that connects the two. The original two buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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2.Collections & Exhibitions

Collections & Exhibitions
© Albany Institute of History & Art (AIHA)

The Albany Institute of History & Art (AIHA) features a permanent collection of more than 20,000 objects, including 1600 paintings, 4000 prints, 1100 drawings, 1200 ceramics, 600 sculptures, 500 pieces of furniture, 4000 items of clothing and accessories, and more than 5,000 other historical artifacts. The Institute’s library houses vast collections that include over 140,000 printed volumes and 85,000 photographs. The AIHA also hosts several traveling and rotating exhibitions throughout the year to coincide with its permanent exhibits.

The Museum’s permanent exhibits are spread over two floors of the original 1920s Classical Revival building, and include ‘The Landscape That Defined America: The Hudson River School’ featuring renowned Hudson River School Gallery paintings by Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, and Asher B. Durand,

‘Sense of Place: 18th and 19th Century Paintings and Sculpture’ is set in the Lansing Gallery and features significant works by Ralph Earl, John Thomas Peele, Ezra Ames, and Walter Launt Palmer.

‘19th Century American Sculpture’ showcases 20 sculptures by Charles Calverley, Launt Thompson, and Erastus Dow Palmer, and ‘Ancient Egypt’ highlights items and objects from ancient Egypt including two mummies.

‘Traders and Culture: Colonial Albany and the Formation of American Identity’ is located in the Colonial Albany Gallery and features works from the 17th and 18th centuries, and the Entry Point Gallery is found at the entrance of the museum and houses samples of the institute's recent acquisitions.

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3.Education & Visitor Information

Education & Visitor Information
© Albany Institute of History & Art (AIHA)

The Albany Institute of History & Art (AIHA) offers a variety of educational programs and community outreach projects for visitors and learners of all ages, ranging from school curricula programs to open, community and collaborative projects and experiences.

The Albany Institute of History & Art is located on Washington Avenue in Albany, New York and is open to the public from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Wednesday to Saturday and 12:00 am to 5:00 pm on Sundays. The Museum has a shop that is open during regular museum hours and offers a selection of collection and exhibition-related pieces, as well as work of local artists and craftspeople.

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125 Washington Ave, Albany, NY 12210, Phone: 518-463-4478

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Things to Do in Albany, NY: Albany Institute of History & Art (AIHA)