State Museum Acquires Over 100,000 Archaeological Artifacts from Fort Orange and Schuyler Flatts

Release Date: 
Thursday, September 7, 2017
Contact Information: 
Contact: Office of Communications Phone: (518) 474-1201


The New York State Museum today announced the acquisition of over 100,000 archaeological artifacts from Fort Orange and Schuyler Flatts, documenting Dutch and early English settlement of the Albany area in the 17th century. The State Museum plans to open an exhibition featuring artifacts from the Fort Orange and Schuyler Flatts collections in 2018. 

Archaeological excavations in the early 1970s under the direction of Dr. Paul Huey resulted in the recovery of 36,000 artifacts from Fort Orange and over 80,000 artifacts from Schuyler Flatts. Among the thousands of artifacts recovered are everyday items such as ceramic plates, tobacco pipes, drinking glasses, firearm parts, and food remains. Trade items in the collection include glass beads, mouth harps, and other items. Together, these two collections tell the story of the first Native Americans who lived in the Upper Hudson Valley for thousands of years before Europeans arrived, interaction between Native people and the first Dutch Colonists, the development of Fort Orange as a trading center, the establishment of Rensselaerswijck, and everyday life in 17th century New Netherland.

“The Fort Orange and Schuyler Flatts collections not only contain important historic artifacts but they are also unique educational resources,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa. “We’re proud to own this extraordinary archaeology collection that reflects New York and Albany’s early history and share them with the children and adults of New York State.”

“This comprehensive archaeology collection provides remarkable insight into what life was like in the Albany area over 300 years ago,” said State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “We’re grateful for the collaboration of the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for transferring this collection to the State Museum so these artifacts are available for researchers, educators, students, and all people of New York State.”

“We are pleased to work the New York State Museum to advance our shared mission of promoting an understanding of the history of New York,” said Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation. “Combining the collections in the care of the State Museum will create the largest single collection of Dutch cultural artifacts in America; which makes them accessible for research and study, while remaining available for exhibits at our state historic sites and the State Museum.”

“The State Museum has a significant collection of artifacts from archaeological sites in Albany and lower Manhattan that document one of the earliest European settlements in the nation,” said Deputy Commissioner of Cultural Education and State Museum Director Mark Schaming. “Adding the Fort Orange and Schuyler Flatts collections to the Museum’s holdings makes all these rich archaeological collections made by professional archaeologists accessible in one location and serves as an unrivaled research and educational resource in telling the unique history of New York State, New York City, and Albany.”

Fort Orange was established along the Hudson River near present-day Albany by the Dutch West India Company in 1624. The fort was the first permanent settlement in New Netherland and was well-situated to take advantage of the lucrative beaver pelt trade. Dutch officials were eager to populate the new Colony with settlers and bestowed large land grants, called “patroonships”, to individuals who would transport farmers and tradesmen to the colony. The Patroonship of Rensselaerswijck encompassed the entire area around Fort Orange and was by far the most successful of these colonies. One of the chief farms and trade outposts within Rensselaerswijck was established in 1643 by Arent Van Curler on the rich agricultural lands along the Hudson River about 5 miles north of the fort. This stretch of river bottom would later be called Schuyler Flatts after Phillip Pieterse Schuyler who acquired the property in 1672. The Fort Orange and Schuyler Flatts sites are designated National Historic Landmarks.

The Fort Orange and Schuyler Flatts collections were transferred to the New York State Museum by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Some of the artifacts remain on public exhibition at Crailo State Historic Site in Rensselaer, Senate House State Historic Site in Kingston, and Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site in Albany.

Photos of artifacts from the Fort Orange and Schuyler Flatts collections are available

The State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located at 222 Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. Admission is free. Further information about programs and events can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the Museum website.