A deer in Adirondack Hall

Research & Collections :: Collections at the State Museum


Anthropological collections at the State Museum represent over 11,000 years of human history in what is now New York, from Ice Age hunters, to longhouse-dwelling farmers, to Dutch traders and colonists, to more recent shopkeepers, factory workers, and artists of diverse ethnic heritages. The Archaeological Collection includes some 4 million artifacts and accompanying documentation from every county of the state. The Ethnographic Collection preserves material culture from the past 3 centuries of Native American life within the region, including the path-breaking Lewis H. Morgan Collection of Seneca Iroquois materials, assembled around 1850 by the “Father of American Anthropology,” and the Governor’s Collection of Contemporary Native American Art.

Curatorial Staff | Collections


The Museum’s Biological Collections include two and a half million specimens collected over more than two centuries of research. They record the rich diversity, complex biogeography, and change over time in New York’s populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, insects, vascular plants, fungi, mosses, and other living things. Outstand\ing 19th century collections include some of the oldest North American plant specimens and thousands of type specimens gathered and described by pioneering naturalists such as mycologist Charles Horton Peck and entomologist Asa Fitch. The Natural History Illustration Collection comprises tens of thousands of drawings, paintings, and sculptures that illuminate the scientific characteristics and innate beauty of New York’s living natural world.

Curatorial Staff | Collection


At least 1,500,000 specimens of rocks, minerals, and fossils are included in the State Museum’s geological collections. The Mineralogy Collection constitutes the world’s largest and most complete array of New York State minerals. From 3.5 billion yearold bacteria to 20,000-year-old fossil fish, the one million specimens of the Paleontology Collection comprise one of the five largest fossil collections in North America. Beginning with specimens donated by Governor DeWitt Clinton in 1832, its record of the development of American natural science is second only to Harvard’s.

Curatorial Staff | Collections


Each and every artifact in the vast History Collections can be considered a treasure in one way or another, because of its rarity, because of its inherent beauty, because of its association with famous or important individuals, or simply because of the precious and precise information it can provide about the history and development of our State and the people who made it great. Special, focused collections of artifacts such as the Shaker Collection and the New York State Agricultural Society Collection provide broad insight into particular industries, types of objects, or ways of life in New York.

Curatorial Staff | Collections

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