Founded in 1791, the Albany Institute of History & Art is one of the oldest museums in the country. Originally organized to promote the practical application of the agricultural, scientific and manufacturing arts, today, the museum and library are dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the art, history, and culture of the upper Hudson Valley region from the 17th century to the present.
The Albany Institute’s collections form one of the best collections in the United States documenting the life and culture of the upper Hudson Valley region. The majority of collections were produced in the Albany area or in New York State, and are linked to the region by maker or ownership. On a regional level, these collections provide an understanding of the social, economic, and political networks within which artisans, merchants, and consumers operated, reflecting the distinctive geographic and cultural forces that shaped this area of New York State. In a more global context, due to this region’s central role in the early development of the country and Albany’s importance as the state capital, much of the Albany Institute’s collections transcend their regional origins to attain national, and in some cases, international significance.
The collections are further enhanced by their proximity to some of the country’s most accomplished artists and craftsmen, who lived and worked in New York’s Hudson Valley. Curatorial collections currently number more than 30,000 objects, including: 2,100 paintings, 2,500 drawings, 5,500 prints, 1,500 sculptures, 500 pieces of furniture, 2,200 ceramics, 300 glass, 2,800 silver; 3,500 household and utilitarian artifacts, and 6,500 textiles and clothing.
The social and cultural history of the region is further documented in the collections of the Albany Institute’s library. The library’s holdings include a 15,000-volume history and art reference collection, 125 periodicals and newsletters, 1,000 linear feet of manuscripts and archives; and special collections including 75,000 photographic images, 325 broadsides, 300 architectural drawings, 200 maps, and more than 1,000 items of ephemera.
View the Albany Institute of History & Art Digital Collection
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Albany Institute of History and Art Library Digital Images
A small sample from the library's collection of material related to the history of the city and county of Albany and the Upper Hudson Valley from the 17th century to the present.