Coverlet. Blue and white in stylized snowflake pattern with geometric and floral motifs in the center field, this coverlet is believed to have been made in 1836 by weaver John Conger, working in the town of Scipio, Cayuga County. The name woven in the corners indicates it was made for the Tillotsons, a prominent family in Cayuga and adjacent Tompkins counties.
Historical Survey administers over 350,000 objects, including
several distinguished collections of national or regional
stature: Shaker domestic and industrial materials; documented New
York furniture; agricultural implements; E. L. Henry paintings
and graphics; circus and theater memorabilia; fire-fighting
apparatus; the Gurley\Smart collection of surveying instruments;
and prints and photographs. The Survey also holds significant
collections of New York stoneware; Oneida silverware;
advertising, packaging, and retailing materials; military
miniatures; women's clothing; horse-drawn vehicles; industrial
machinery; and quilts and coverlets.
Survey plays a prominent role in the New York State Museum's
program of permanent and temporary exhibitions. Over 75% of the
permanent exhibitions now on view deal with historic themes and
draw on the History collections and History staff expertise.
Recent and current temporary exhibitions include subjects as
diverse as circus posters, keyboard instruments, women factory
workers in WWII, flower imagery, the Adirondack Park, window
forms, mirrors, surveying instruments, popular entertainment, and
birds eye views of New York.
the staff helps create "From the Collections", a
series of exhibits, which have all relied heavily on objects from
the History collection, and has initiated a search for relevant
objects to support the African American Exhibit proposed for
Metropolis Hall. A significant number of the Museum's lobby
exhibits also depend on large-scale objects from the History
collection, such as horse-drawn wagons, automobiles, ice boats,
kitchen ranges, and agricultural machinery.
order to provide maximum public access to objects in its
collections, the Survey participates in an extensive and
aggressive program of selective loans to other not-for-profit,
educational institutions across New York state and beyond.
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Mowing Machine. The Museum's collections include three Walter Wood mowing machines, including one similar to this model in the 1900 catalogue. The Museum's earliest, wood frame machine dates from the 1850's. The Walter A. Wood Company built agricultural implements at Hoosick Falls for more than a half century.
nineteenth century, the New York State Agricultural Society
maintained a museum in Albany. In addition to examples of the
most modern tools available to New York farmers of the day, the
Society displayed historical implements and exotic, primitive
devices from around the world. When the Society gave up its
museum in 1900, the collection came to the State Museum to form
the core of the present agricultural holdings.
eighteenth century British colonial and nineteenth century Asian
Indian plows are interesting in themselves, the Society's
mid-nineteenth century American plows and other farm equipment
comprise its most valuable legacy, surviving as unique in relics
of one of the most vital periods in New York State agriculture.
Many of the Society's objects were acquired for display directly
from their inventors or manufacturers in the 1850's and 1860's. A
few items, such as plows, were used briefly in contests staged by
the Society. But much of the material - feed mills, fodder
cutters, weeders, thresher models and sheep feeders - remains as
manufactured (given the inevitable deleterious effects of time).
Stone Lifter. A wealthy farmer near Alder Creek used this device in the 1910's and 1920's to remove large stones from his fields. After the stone was secured with the iron hooks, the ratchet was used to lift the rock clear of the earth. A team of horses pulled the lifter and stone to a disposal area. Gift of Richard S. Smith.
distinct piece of the current State Museum agricultural
collections are artifacts from the Shaker communities in New
York. The Shakers, from their founding to their demise as viable
communes, relied upon an agricultural economic orientation. In
the 1920's and 1930's, as the communities dissolved, the State
Museum acquired many relics of the Shaker's industries. Much of
the material in the State Museum can be ascribed to processing
activities, such as preparation of dried corn, seeds and herbs
for market, rather than the growing of such corn, seeds and
century agricultural tools and implements from many sources also
belong to the State Museum's agriculture collection. Included are
such items as tractors, silo fillers, milking machines and apple
sorting equipment, all of which are associated with recent or
contemporary important New York agricultural activities.
York State Department of Environmental Conservation once
maintained a tree nursery museum at its facility in Saratoga
Springs. Much of the material from the museum, principally the
artifacts of seedling care, have been transferred to the State
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Springside Cottage, Poughkeepsie. Built for Matthew Vassar c1850. Design attributed to A. J. Downing (1815-1852). The Gothic Revival facade and trim components were salvaged in 1976.
The Architecture Collection
at the New York State Museum encompasses almost three centuries of
the state's built environment. Artifacts span the colonial period well
into the 20th century and include walls and window sash, facades and
frieze boards, and surfaces both painted and planed. Sample the
collection on the Museum's Architecture
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