Education Programs for Groups

Turn the New York State Museum into your classroom where students can explore, engage with, and learn about New York State’s unique treasures. Register for a group program tailored to compliment classwork in social studies, science, art and culture. 

Hours and Availability
Educational Group Programs are available Tuesday - Friday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Groups registered for Education Programs receive a scheduled time to explore with a Museum Instructor. Please arrive 15 minutes before the start of your program. Self-guided groups can visit anytime during regular Museum hours Tuesday-Sunday 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Review Programs

Read Course Descriptions and identity a program for your group.  

List of Programs

A...B...What Do You See?

Explore the Museum’s Adirondack Wilderness exhibit on an alphabet treasure hunt. Discover and name animals of the Adirondacks from the prickly porcupine to the mighty moose! 

This program takes place in Adirondack Hall
Best for Pre-K - 1st Grade
NYS Standards: LA 1, 2
30 minutes

Birds and Mammals

Meet ducks, owls, squirrels, beavers, and more as you explore the wonderful world of birds and mammals. Interactively explore mammal skulls and specimens in a museum classroom and conduct research on the birds of bird hall exploring migration, habitat, nesting and more. 

This program takes place in a museum classroom and Birds of New York Hall.
Best for 2nd - 6th Grades
NYS Standards: MST 4
45 minutes

Cradleboards and Cornhusk Dolls

Explore the life of an Iroquois child of 500 years ago with stories and interactive objects and a visit to a full size replica of a Mohawk Iroquois longhouse on a winter’s night. Visit a hands on classroom and Three Sisters growing field exhibit.  

This program takes place in a classroom and the Longhouse and Three Sisters growing field exhibits.
Best for Pre-K - 1st Grade
NYS Standards: SS 1, 3, 4
30 minutes

Ellis Island Experience

What was it like to be an immigrant in the early 1900s? Imagine a long ride on a storm-tossed ship not knowing what you will find when you arrive. At Ellis Island, you must pass a medical exam before being released into your new life. Do you speak the language? Where will you live? Students are challenged to compare the dreams and the hardships of immigrant families and explore the complicated process of becoming American. 

This program takes place in NY Metropolis
Best for 4th - 8th Grades
NYS Standards: SS 1, 2, 4; LA 1, 3
45 minutes

Fur and Feathers

Interactive exploration of mammals and birds of New York, explore Adirondack Mammals and research the birds of Bird Hall.  

This program takes place in Adirondack Hall, a classroom, and Birds of New York Hall.
Best for Pre-K - 1st Grade
NYS Standards: MST 4
30 minutes

Minerals Rock!

How are the rocks we see around us made? How can we identify minerals? Students will work together to determine types of rocks and minerals based on their own observations using scientific tools and techniques. They will then enjoy an independent exploration of the mineral exhibit to search for specific minerals found in the Adirondacks, prospect for minerals in a mining expedition, and investigate the bedrock of New York.

This program takes place in a museum classroom, the Mineral exhibit, and other areas of Adirondack Hall.
Best for 3rd - 12th Grades
NYS Standards: MST 1, 4
45 minutes

Native Peoples of New York - A Journey

Take a journey into the past to meet the first inhabitants of New York. Examine multiple types of evidence to learn about their daily lives. Students will study the tools and objects used by Native Peoples in New York to learn about their changing technologies and how this provided new opportunities to use environmental resources.

Travel through time to meet the first inhabitants of New York, and continue your journey to discover evidence of changing cultures.

This program takes place in Native Peoples Hall.
Best for 2nd Grade and older
NYS Standards: SS 1, 3, 4
45 minutes

People of the Longhouse

What were Iroquois culture, community, and confederacy like over 500 years ago? Students will examine archaeological evidence, first-hand accounts, and step into a full-size reconstruction of a Mohawk longhouse to explore the material culture, values, and daily-life of Iroquois families. Students will discover the many types of evidence they need to build a deeper understanding of the lives of the men, women and children who lived 500 years ago in an Iroquois village.

This program takes place in a museum classroom and the Longhouse.
Best for 2nd - 10th Grades
NYS Standards: SS 1, 3, 4
45 minutes

Tenement – Beyond Ellis Island

Was New York the same city for all of its residents? Using primary documents, students will compare contrast the lives of New York City residents from different economic levels, and cultural backgrounds. Using the New York State Museum's exhibit "New York Metropolis" as evidence, students will explore mass production, consumerism, urbanization, social change, and immigration.

This program takes place in NY Metropolis.
Best for 4th - 8th Grades
NYS Standards: SS 1
45 minutes

Whales and Seashores

What is happening to whales? Students will investigate this question through an interdisciplinary program. Students will discover the diversity of marine life by exploring taxonomy using real and historic images and documents from the age of whaling. Students will gain a sense of scale through a group activity measuring many types of whales.

This program takes place in the Open Spaces Exhibit and Birds of New York Hall.
Best for 4th - 12th Grades
NYS Standards: MST 4, 5, 7; S 1, 3, 4, 5
45 minutes

Be Prepared

Prepare for your visit by reviewing the following Museum policies and procedures. Also included is information regarding parking and lunchroom reservations.

  • Directions and Arrival Procedures

    Location

    The New York State Museum is housed in the Cultural Education Center in Albany, New York. The Cultural Education Center (CEC) is at the south end of the Empire State Plaza, across Madison Avenue (Route 20) from the Plaza (at the opposite end from the Capitol). 

    Group Entrance

    The Group Entrance to the New York State Museum is at the rear of the Museum on Park Avenue between South Swan and Eagle Streets, directly across from Lincoln Park. All School bus and/or group carpool loading/unloading takes place through the group entrance. 05-visitprep-groupentrance.pdf (528.76 KB)

    Parking: Buses (School Buses and/or Coaches)

    After dropping groups off at the Museum's Group Entrance on Park Avenue, buses are required to park at a free, off-site lot. Please review the off-site directions and map prior to your departure. 05-visitprep-busparking.pdf

    Free Shuttle Service from the off-site lot to the State Museum/Empire State Plaza is available through the Office of General Services (OGS). For Bus Drivers and/or staff who wish to join their group at the Museum after parking, please review the shuttle schedule and be sure to return to your vehicle with enough time to promptly pick up students from the Group Entrance at the conclusion of their visit.

    Parking: General Public (includes groups arriving with cars or vans)

    Parking for the general public is available in the two lots adjacent to the Museum, both located off of Madison Avenue. Prior to 10:00 a.m., the parking fee is $10. After 10:00 a.m., the parking fee is $5. Parking is free after 2:00 p.m. A visitor lot is available in the Empire State Plaza. 

  • Museum Conduct Policy

    Please review the following guidelines with your group, teachers and chaperones prior to your visit. Any groups not able to adhere to these guidelines will be asked to leave. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

    Code of Conduct

    • One adult must accompany each group of ten children (1:10).
    • ALL STUDENTS MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY AN ADULT CHAPERONE AT ALL TIMES.
    • Be courteous to other visitors: use "inside voices" and share exhibit spaces with other groups and visitors.
    • Safety is important: No running, smoking, yelling, or rough-housing.
    • No food, drink, candy, or chewing gum. Dispose of all trash in trash receptacles.
    • No abusive language or gestures.
    • Groups failing to observe these guidelines will be asked to leave the museum.

    Artifacts and Displays

    Please help us protect and preserve the priceless objects in our collections. Do not touch the items on display, or use exhibit cases, walls or pedestals as writing surfaces.

    Photography

    Photography is allowed is most galleries, except where noted for special exhibits. Tripods and secondary lights may not be used.

  • Meal Options

    Bag Lunch: Reserved Seating in the Museum's Lunch Room

    Limited indoor seating is available in the Museum's Student Center, Monday through Friday. A half hour slot will be assigned to your group according to the start of your scheduled tour. This option should be indicated on your Registration Form. Bag lunches can be temporarily stored indoors when group lunches are boxed or contained and marked with your school or group's name. 

    Bag Lunch: Picnic!

    Spring, Summer and early Fall are beautiful in Albany and many people enjoy eating lunch on Empire State Plaza, just across from the State Capitol. Bag lunches can be temporarily stored indoors when group lunches are boxed or contained and marked with your school or group's name.

    Lunch at the Concourse Food Court

    On the Concourse Level of the Empire State Plaza there are a number of food choices, including McDonalds. No prior notice to the Museum is required. More information on dining selections in the concourse.

  • Information for Chaperones

    We recognize the valuable contribution chaperones provide to visiting groups. We want to make their visit and experience supervising students throughout the Museum as seemless and rewarding as possible.

    Below you will find materials regarding strategies chaperones can employ to help students navigate through the museum safely and constructively. We have also created a ready-made form you can print and send to chaperones to help them anticipate topics that will be covered during your visit to the State Museum. 

    » Download Chaperone Packet for Group Tours (PDF)

  • Floor Plans
  • Museum Facts

    Origins of the Museum

    The origins of the New York State Museum can be traced back to the 1836 establishment of the New York State Geological and Natural History Survey. The goal of the survey was to conduct "a grand and comprehensive collection of the natural productions of the State of New York." In 1842, New York State Legislature officially created the "State Cabinet of Natural History", and in 1870, the Cabinet was officially renamed the "New York State Museum".

    Museum about Town

    The Museum has been housed in several locations throughout downtown Albany, including the Geological and Agricultrual Hall, the Court of Appeals Building, the Capitol Building, the State Education Building, and, at its present location, the Cultural Education Center. In 1911, the Museum lost nearly 10,000 archaeological artifacts and ethnographic objects when the State Capitol was ravaged by fire.

    Exhibitions, Collections and Research

    The Museum is not just an exhibit space, but a major research and educational institution that conducts systematic investigations into the fields of geology, biology, anthropology and the history of New York. The Museum's collections include over 12 million specimens and artifacts that reflect over 175 years of research in the earth sciences, biology, and human history.

    The Museum Today

    Today, the Musuem is the single largest tourist attraction in the Captial Region, welcoming over 750,000 visitors annually.

After reviewing each step, if you have any additional questions, please contact the Museum Group Registration Office: (518) 474-5843, or e-mail groupreg@nysed.gov