Museums of Albany

The Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence, located at 194 Livingston Avenue was a vital cog in the Underground Railroad which operated during the 19th century. The purpose of the railroad was to aid runaway slaves from the South through the North and to safety, specifically in Canada. This particular home was owned by Stephen and Harriet Myers whom also had other properties throughout the city, however this is the only surviving one today.  “The Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence.” 2016. Underground Railroad History Project. Accessed February 29.

Home to the Albany Country Historical Association, the Ten Broeck Mansion is the former residence of General Abraham Ten Broeck and his wife, Elizabeth Van Rensselaer. General Ten Broeck served as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress and commanded the New York Militia at the Battle of Saratoga. He would later go on to serve as a mayor of Albany, a state Senator and a judge. “Ten Broeck Mansion | Albany NY.” 2016. Accessed February 29.

Located on Washington Avenue, the Albany Institute of History & Art is home to a multitude of collections ranging from local art to an exhibit on Ancient Egypt which includes an actual mummy with sarcophagus! Built in 1791, it is honored to have the privilege of being one of the oldest museums in the United States. I have had the pleasure of visiting the museum on a number of occasions and truly enjoy each trip. “Albany Museum – Albany Institute of History and Art.” 2016. Accessed February 29.

At a cost of half a billion dollars (adjusted for inflation, original cost was $25 million), the New York State Capital building began constructing in 1867 and would require a staggering thirty-two years to complete. Noted for its architectural styles which include the Italian and French Renaissances along with Romanesque, the Capital is home to the Governor’s office along with the NYS Assembly and the Senate. The famed “Fire of 1911” nearly destroyed the entire building, fortunately all was not lost. Unfortunately, much of the library and archives were lost. A major aesthetic element of the interior are the elaborate staircases containing the intricate carvings of notable figures such as George Washington and Susan B. Anthony.  One of the largest collections of flags is also on display in the Flag Room where over 1,000 flags, many from the Civil War, are on display. “New York State Assembly Home.” 2016. Accessed February 29.

Finally, the New York State Museum is located just a stone’s throw from the Capital building. First established in 1836, the museum has moved from various homes until it found a permanent location in the beautiful Empire State Plaza. Some of the more iconic exhibits include Fire Engine Hall, the Cohoes Mastadon, and even a 100 year old Carousel that is still functional today!
“New York State Museum, Albany, New York.” 2016. Accessed February 29.
The purpose of my tour is to offer a short walk to some of the main museums located in the capital region. While there are more, these are the ones I feel would serve the public the greatest in the shortest amount of time possible. Museums offer such fascinating and creative exhibits, it is a shame more people do not visit and support them. I can recall a class of mine freshman year letting out a collective groan when we were told we would be required to visit a museum and write a short paper on the visit. Not a lot of people want to sit in a classroom and learn about a period in history. Museums offer an experience, one where you interact with the exhibits and if you are not careful, you just might learn something! My targeted audience is the general public that wishes to learn something about Albany. Each one of my walking tour points are areas directly relating to Albany history ranging from the Revolutionary War, through the Civil War, and into modern day. According to Google Maps, this tour would take the average person about 40 minutes to complete.
To further my research I may want to consider the following:
1.) While the larger museums, such as the NYS Museum and the Albany Institute of History and Art, are able to receive large federal funds along with private donations, how can the smaller museums such as the Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence afford to keep the doors open?
2.) How many visitors does each location receive on a yearly basis?
3.) What kind of public outreach programs does each utilize to draw interest?



4 thoughts on “Museums of Albany

  • February 29, 2016 at 11:54 PM

    Our tours have two similar locations, The Myers Residence and The New York State Capitol Building. Both locations fall under my tour topic of the abolitionist and Underground Railroad movement in Albany New York. Have you thought about admission prices for your places?

  • March 1, 2016 at 1:34 AM

    I also have The New York State Capital as one of my locations. I found one of your questions interesting regarding the number of visitors for each location. I never thought of the statistics for each locations and its effect on the success of our walking tours.

  • March 3, 2016 at 7:02 AM

    We have 3 of the same locations on both our tours. The Ten Broeck Museum, Albany Institute of History & Art, and New York State Museum. What about these museums made you pick them over any others?

  • March 9, 2016 at 10:42 PM

    Your big challenge is going to be in figuring out what you can say about these locations that a visitor can’t get from just going to the museum/the museum’s website themselves. Some ideas: the architecture of the museum building; background on the people or group that built the museum, rather than what the museum is about; the time period the museum was built in and how that affected the museum’s topic/focus/architecture. The city’s tourism website already lists all these places, and the museums themselves have websites that briefly describe what they’re about, so what can you do that doesn’t just replicate those websites?

    For your funding question, all the museums have listed have sponsor/donor pages, so it would be worth digging around there to see if there’s maybe an interesting theme of a business supporting all of these museums. Number of visitors is going to be harder to find, but think about whether your audience is going to be that interested in that information.

    The Times Union archives only go back to 1986, but you might want to dig through there for mentions of your museums and see if you can find some interesting stories there–the AIHA had a big funding campaign a few years ago, the Myers museum is pretty recent, etc.

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