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History Museums

Explore New York State's Rich Past at these World-Class Institutions

New York State is a magnet for history buffs. The rich heritage of the nation and state are celebrated and explored at history, cultural, and military museums along the Path Through History. The New York State Museum in Albany, the nation's largest and oldest state museum, features exhibits with vintage firefighting vehicles, antique subway cars, and dioramas that bring New York's past to life.  Step inside the oldest surviving house in Upstate New York at Bronck Museum in the Catskills Region. The single-room stone house, built in 1663, still features original massive beams, wide floor boards, cellar hatchway, and early Dutch doors. In the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Tenement Museum, through guided tours of two historic tenement buildings, tells the uniquely American story of immigration and the large role New York played. Find yourself viewing a historic whaleboat, the only whaling vessel with original gear on display in New York, along with maritime art, navigational aids, manuscripts, ship models and more at The Whaling Museum & Education Center in Cold Spring Harbor. In the Thousand Islands-Seaway region, discover military history at the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, where a battle was fought in the War of 1812. Today, it offers public exhibits, guided and self-guided tours, and the restored 1850’s Navy Yard and Commandant's House. At The Corning Museum of Glass, travel through 35 centuries of glass artistry, get hands-on with the science and technology of glass, watch live glassblowing, and even make your own glass.

Since the first colonization of the Eastern Seaboard, New York State has played an important role in the development of the United States military. Across the state, you will find a wealth of forts, battlegrounds, and military headquarters that preserve, recreate and honor our country’s military history. The New York State Military Museum, located in beautiful downtown Saratoga Springs, maintains the largest state collection of military battle flags, manages the NYS Veterans Oral History Program, and houses more than 10,000 artifacts dating from the Revolutionary War to Desert Storm that relate to military forces, military history, and the contributions of New York’s veterans. In the Hudson Valley, the United States Military Academy at West Point is situated majestically along the Hudson River. It was founded in 1778 as an army post, and in 1802 became what is today the country’s oldest service academy. Tour the grounds to take in its rich history, cadet parades, and magnificent views of the Hudson River.

Travel to the Adirondack village of Ticonderoga and experience life during the 18th century at Fort Ticonderoga, a restored garrison which dates back to the start of the French and Indian War in 1755 and was the site of events that helped shape the nations of North America and changed world history. With its 27-mile range, Dunkirk Lighthouse is one of the most prominent beacons on Lake Erie, and the Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse and Veterans Park Museum is a must-see in the Chautauqua- Allegheny region. Guided museum tours include a climb of the Dunkirk Lighthouse's spiral stairs to the upper observation level, a walk through the restored 1800 lighthouse keeper's home, and experiencing the Museum by seeing and discovering the many Lake Erie nautical displays and US Veterans displays.

In addition to the homes and hometowns of artists, writers and performers that you can explore as part of the Arts & Culture Path Through History, great artistic achievements are on display at historic cultural museums and sites across the Empire State. For over 100 years, the Hyde Collection Art Museum and Historic House in Glens Falls has presented art in a historic Italianate Renaissance villa, and now combines Adirondack heritage with a permanent collection of European old and modern masters. Buffalo's Albright-Knox Art Gallery is over 150 years old with a collection of modern and contemporary art, and the Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House is one of the architect's greatest tour-able masterpieces. Boscobel House and Gardens,  a 19th-centry Federal-style museum overlooking the Hudson River and West Point, contains the nation's leading collection of furniture and decorative arts made by premier New York cabinetmakers. The Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown features American folk art and American Indian art, as well as important holdings in American decorative arts. The museum at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica is in a restored 1850 Italiante mansion redesigned in 1960 by Philip Johnson and includes works by Dali, Mondrian, O'Keefe, Picasso, Pollock and Tiffany.

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