STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT /
THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Cultural Education Committee
Renewal of the State Museum - Progress
Goals 4 & 5
How can the Museum be renewed to embrace new technologies and advances in exhibit development to make its resources available to all?
The State Museum’s permanent exhibits were
designed in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. They neither reflect the research
of the past 25 years nor the richness of the remarkable collections of the State
Museum. Integration of new technologies and improved techniques for interpreting
our natural and cultural histories are much needed.
Museums are education institutions dedicated to providing opportunities for life long learning. New technologies provide new ways to reach visitors with learning opportunities or to provide memorable experiences. Museums should be central to addressing science literacy issues, working with formal education institutions toward closing the gap and serving as a community resource.
acting in their role of trustees of the State Museum, will oversee the renewal
of the Museum galleries. At the November meeting, the Quality Committee will be
considering recommendations as to how the Regents can best execute their
The Museum master plan for exhibitions was
presented to the Regents in 1999 and progress toward implementation reported
periodically to the Cultural Education Committee and to the full
The State Museum is the oldest and largest
State Museum in the country and is internationally known for the depth of its
collections and the quality of research done by its staff. The Museum galleries,
designed in the
1960’s, lack the perspective of the new realms of social history – African
American, Latino, women’s history and others. They do not give access to the
richness of the collections or use new interactive
approaches to engage the visitor.
The Museum recognized these
issues, and in 2001 the first
phase of an exhibit renewal plan opened with 25,000 square feet of new exhibits.
Additional enhancements to current exhibits, as well as the new World Trade
Center Hall, have since been developed. Annual attendance has risen by 40% since
the initial improvements - from an annual mean of 550,000 to more than 775,000
visitors over the past three years, making the State Museum the most visited
museum in the upstate region.
of the galleries will continue to create an interactive, hands-on environment
and a stimulating visual and auditory experience, making a lasting impression on
visitors of all ages. People will learn, return many times and never forget. The
Museum will emphasize a “wow” factor, with exhibits that convey New York’s
unique and exciting history in a manner that makes it
The Museum has recently received more than $3 million from the matching challenge funds to implement the continuing renewal of its galleries. Challenge funds will enable the Museum to make improvements throughout the galleries, using interactive components and multimedia technology to make collections and research accessible to our visitors. Staff will provide an overview of the projects underway at the meeting.
Staff will also present an overview of its planning for two major galleries; one devoted to the natural history of New York, New York’s Changing Landscape: A Walk through Time, and one that presents the role of New York in the history of the United States, Empire City; Empire State: America Begins in New York. The first phase of this project will use some of New York’s greatest treasures to tell the story of the State’s role in shaping the country in areas as diverse as human rights and utopian societies, finance and the industrial revolution, innovation and the arts, transportation and politics. While standing alone in its unique heritage, New York has led the nation throughout its history as a true crucible for new ideas.
Museum has begun implementing improvements through the challenge fund and is
developing an OCE-wide concept for both a “Natural History Gallery” and the
“America Begins in New York Gallery.”
We anticipate concept-funding approval in 2006 after which focus groups,
visitor surveys and exhibit developers will work with staff to plan the
galleries. The plans will be presented to the Stewardship Committee for approval
in early 2007.