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Explore the Collections Highlights

On behalf of the people of New York, the State Museum cares for more than 12.5 million specimens and artifacts, reflecting almost two centuries of research in the earth sciences, biology, and human history. These irreplaceable collections are the single most significant record of the state's natural and cultural heritage, the foundation for our evolving understanding of the history they represent.

Predating the Smithsonian Institution, the New York State Museum is among the oldest research museums in the nation. In 1836, the State initiated an ambitious formal survey of its resources, resulting in large collections of geological and biological specimens. In 1843, the State Legislature established a repository for these and future collections, along with the documentation that records their contexts. This State Cabinet of Natural History was expanded in 1847 to include historical and archaeological collections. These collections are the heart of what is now the State Museum.

Here, we have gathered examples of some of the outstanding objects from these collections. Additional information about the State Museum collections can be found at Research & Collections.



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