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Research and Collections

From its beginning in 1836, the New York State Museum has been home to some of the nation’s leading scientists, including pioneers in archaeology, paleontology, ethnology, and botany. Its collections now rank among the finest in many fields and total more than sixteen million specimens, objects, and artifacts.

  • Three Sisters Diorama


  • moth


  • close up layers of rock


  • Cultural History


  • White basket

    Native American Ethnography

  • Cohoes Mastodon


Research at the New York State Museum today is as exciting as it is varied, with scientists and historians actively directing projects in biology, anthropology, geology, paleontology, and history. Research by staff represents one tangible way in which information about the natural and cultural histories of New York, and the world, is made available to the public. Research findings are presented in scholarly and popular publications, at professional meetings, in exhibitions, and in public programs.

Researchers throughout the world use the collections of the New York State Museum to address questions about New York's natural and human heritage. The Museum’s collections are made available to researchers and scholars and are also used in exhibitions and public programs. Participation in Museum collections curation and research projects is possible through internships and volunteer opportunities.

To explore the Museum’s Research and Collections Division, hover your mouse over the Research and Collections block at the top navigation bar. 

News Articles

Fluted Point from West Athens Hill
Published September 21, 2021 | Native American Archaeology

How old are the oldest archaeological sites in New York? Put another way, when did Native Americans first people the region that we now call New York? These questions are difficult to answer because there are no radiocarbon-dated sites of these early peoples that archaeologist call Paleoindians...

Lead Balls from Fort Franklin
Published September 7, 2021 | Historical Archaeology

In August 2021, the New York State Museum acquired 200 artifacts from the LAMAR Institute in Savannah, Georgia. These artifacts are the result of the only systematic archaeological study of three Revolutionary War battlefield sites on the north shore of Long Island. 

Fort Franklin...

Divers Collecting Tagged Mussels
Published July 27, 2021 | Malacology

Zebra and quagga mussels can be aggressive invaders of waterbodies and, when they reach high densities, can be devastating to native mussel populations (among other impacts).  Many lakes and rivers that once supported abundant and diverse communities of native mussels have seen declines after...

Decorative Stoneware
Published July 1, 2021 | Cultural History

Since 1996, Adam Weitsman has donated over 500 pieces of decorated stoneware to the New York State Museum.  While only a portion of these are on view in the galleries, this collection receives lots of attention from researchers and other museums requesting loans.  Here are two new pieces...

Ball Clay Pipes
Published May 11, 2021 | Historical Archaeology

Ball clay tobacco pipe fragments are one of the most common artifacts found on archaeological sites from the 17th through the 19th centuries. There are many reasons for this including the fact that most people smoked, tobacco pipes were relatively cheap and broke easily, and they survive well in...

Albee Square Collection
Published May 6, 2021 | Historical Archaeology

In March of 2015, archaeologists excavated 3 wells, 3 cisterns, and one possible privy at 420 Albee Square in Brooklyn, New York. The New York State Museum acquired the resulting collection in 2020. The artifacts recovered from the excavations illustrate the changing demographics in Brooklyn at...

Tim McCabe, Cicada
Published April 19, 2021 | Entomology

Get the official buzz about the emergence of periodical cicadas this summer! In a recent interview with WAMC’s Lucas Willard, Dr. Timothy McCabe, New York’s State Entomologist, discusses the impending appearance of Brood X (10) cicadas after 17 years underground and where New Yorkers might be...

Nevin’s Street, 1974  Oil on linen  23 ¾ x 19 ¼ in.  H-2020.22.3
Published April 8, 2021 | Cultural History

The NYSM History Collection recently acquired a collection of paintings by Ken Rush (b.1948). Rush divides his time between Vermont and Brooklyn producing rural and urban subjects that move between the realistic and the abstract.  In this group of quiet, almost haunting subway paintings, he...

Finger Lakes Terrain
Published March 11, 2021 | Quarternary Landscape Materials (QLM)

The layers of rock and sediment on the Earth's surface represent both a time capsule and vessel of stored resources. Geologist at the New York State Museum recently completed deep drilling exploration investigations near Ithaca, New York, to investigate Ice Age history. Over the last 2.8 Million...

Artifacts from the Pierce House Collection
Published March 8, 2021 | Historical Archaeology

The NYSM Historical Archaeology Collection recently acquired the Pierce House Collection containing a wide variety of mid-nineteenth century household artifacts from a farmstead located in the town of Lewis, Essex County, New York. Documenting the transition from a tenant to owner occupied...

Small Footed Crucible
Published February 11, 2021 | Historical Archaeology

Many of the Historical Archaeology Collections at the New York State Museum were recovered during compliance work prior to the construction of roads, buildings, and other structures. Larger compliance projects can result in the recovery of 100,000 artifacts or more. Time and budget constraints...

Let’s Vote, Big Apple!, 2020  Emily Ree  Digital print on card stock, 11 in. x 17 in.
Published February 11, 2021 | Social History

Since 2017, LinkNYC Wi-Fi stations have been used to display the work of local artists on digital billboards across New York City. Hudson Valley comic artist Emily Ree’s work was one of 40 submissions chosen for the “Visualize the Vote” campaign in the fall of 2020. The project was a...

Excavation Site
Published January 26, 2021 | CRSP

In late Fall 2020, the Museum’s Cultural Resource Survey Program (CRSP) conducted a Phase 2 site examination of a historic period archaeological site in Central New York (see the NYSM Science Tuesday post from 11/24/2020).  Among the goals of the excavation were to delineate the site’s...

Mohican beaded purse with heart motif
Published January 26, 2021 | Ethnography

Please join the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Nation for a Facebook Live 1-hour presentation entitled, “Clan Mothers, Spinners, Attorneys and Stateswomen: Mohican Women in New Stockbridge,” on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 3 pm Eastern Standard Time.


Magnification of crucible base showing the shell layers
Published January 26, 2021 | Historical Archaeology

Many of the historical archaeology collections at the New York State Museum were recovered during compliance work prior to the construction of roads, buildings, and other structures. Larger compliance projects can result in the recovery of 100,000 artifacts, or more. Time and budget...

Published January 8, 2021 | Archaeology

Just released! The NYSM has published the latest volume in the Bulletin Series entitled, Onondaga and Empire; An Iroquoian People in an Imperial Era. As author James W. Bradley notes, the publication “continues the story of the Onondaga, central nation in the League of the Five Nations...

Excavation Site showing Stone Foundation and Drain Pipe
Published January 6, 2021 | Historical Archaeology

Ann Lee founded the first communal settlement of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, commonly known as the Shakers, in Watervliet New York in 1776. Lee died in 1784, but the community she established continued until 1915. Archaeological excavations at the West family...

Ice Age Bear Vertebra (anterior)
Published January 5, 2021 | Vertebrate Paleontology

Predators are important parts of ecosystems, and while we know species like dire wolves and saber-toothed cats lived elsewhere, there are currently no published records of Ice Age predator fossils having been found in New York. One reason for this is that predators are represented by...

Harriet Alonso - My Autobiographical Bag  
Published December 7, 2020 | Social History

Harriet Alonso began working with embroidery in 1974. Influenced by the imagery of political posters, she soon used the medium to express her ideas about the causes she was passionate about, including women’s rights,...

Painting: "Still Life with Fruit" by Pieter Claesz (1644)
Published November 17, 2020 | Historical Archaeology

Archaeologists can glean a tremendous amount of information from soil sediments collected at archaeological sites. Pollen grains, phytoliths, seeds, and other remnant plant material can survive for thousands of years below ground under the right conditions. These data allow for the...