The New York State Museum is a research-backed institution and center of art, history, and science that is dedicated to exploring the natural history of the state. Located at the southern end of the architecturally striking Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza in Albany, the Museum boasts 100,000 square feet of exhibition space and features a wealth of both long-term and rotating exhibitions throughout the year. The Museum is also home to several of the nation’s leading scientists, including the founders of American botany, ethnology, paleontology, and mycology and its collections include more than 16 million scientific specimens and over one million cultural objects. The Museum also offers a variety of educational and community-based programs for all ages.
The mission of the New York State Museum is to meet the educational needs of the community by exploring New York State’s significant natural and cultural diversity through an array of collections, exhibitions, educational programs, scholarship, and publications in anthropology, art, history and science.
Established in 1836 as the New York State Geological and Natural History Survey by Governor William Marcy, the New York State Museum is the oldest and largest state museum in the country. It was renamed the New York State Museum of Natural History in 1870 and was located in the State Education Building from 1912 until 1976 when it moved to the Cultural Education Center on the completion of the Empire State Plaza. The Museum was opened in July 1976 to a crowd of 15,000 people at an opening ceremony where Don McLean performed. The Museum underwent a major renovation in 2015 and currently boasts ten floors with more than 35,000 square feet of modern exhibition space. The New York State Museum also houses the New York State Library and the New York State Archives.
Permanent exhibits at the New York State Museum include ‘The Adirondack Wilderness’ – an exhibit that explores the geology, and prehistoric vegetation and wildlife of the Adirondacks and the impact environmental activities such as mining and logging had in the area.
‘Ancient Life of New York’ features a paleontological collection of fossils that takes the viewer through a billion years of the Earth’s history and includes fossilized tree stumps, spiders, and blue-green bacteria.
‘Birds of New York’ showcases over 170 native bird species from New York in their natural settings and the ‘Black Capital: Harlem in the 20s’ highlights the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s through an exhibit of the art and culture.
Located on the museum’s fourth floor, ‘Carousel’ features a full-sized carousel made in the early 1900s and which remained in use until 1970. The carousel is now fully operational with free rides offered to visitors throughout the day.
‘Cohoes Mastodon’ presents the skeletal remains of a mastodon that was found and excavated in Cohoes, New York in 1866, along with a display stand and hands-on learning tools, and the ‘Fire Engine Hall’ shows a range of traditional fire-fighting vehicles dating back to the 19th century.
‘Metropolis Hall’ showcases the history of New York City and includes replicas of a Little Italy barbershop, a Chinatown herbalist, and a complete New York City Subway, and ‘Minerals of New York’ is made up of geological displays from the Museum's mineral collection.
‘Native Peoples of New York’ focuses on the prehistoric and historic cultural development of New York State dating back to the Paleoindian period (c. 10,000 BCE) and includes a variety of ancient artifacts and objects, such as stone tools, pottery, and Iroquoian longhouse.
Located on the fourth floor, ‘Windows on New York’ highlights the history and characteristics of many of New York State's different regions, and ‘The World Trade Center: Rescue, Recovery, Response’ tells the story of life-changing September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center with numerous artifacts from the site.
The New York State Museum features an anthropological collection of art and historical materials, paleontology specimens, geological samples, as well as the collections of several well-known anthropologists such as Arthur C. Parker and Lewis H. Morgan.
The New York State Museum offers a range of educational opportunities for visitors of all ages and learning abilities. Museum programming includes group visits, teach workshops, afterschool programs, volunteering and intern programs, and family programs.
The New York State Museum is located at 222 Madison Avenue in New York and is open to the public on Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. Discovery Place is a hands-on learning center for young visitors where children are encouraged to explore and learn through interactive play.
222 Madison Avenue, Albany, NY 12230, Phone: 518-474-5877