A Brief History

The Albany Institute of History & Art holds one of the finest collections of art and historical objects documenting the life and culture of New York’s Upper Hudson Valley from the late seventeenth century to the present.

The collections provide a broad overview of the vibrant artistic traditions and cultural developments of the Upper Hudson Valley, and include eighteenth-century Dutch limner portraits, Hudson River school landscape paintings, work from the studio of Albany sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer, and contemporary art by regional artists.

Many of the objects in the museum's collections were made in the Albany area or New York state and document the region’s skilled craftspeople, businesses, and industrial operations. Other objects in the collections originated in China, Japan, Egypt, the Netherlands, France, and elsewhere in the world. The Albany Institute has collected these items because of connections of ownership to families and commercial enterprises in the Upper Hudson Valley.

The curatorial collections number more than 35,000 objects and include paintings (1,600); drawings (1,600); prints (4,000); sculpture (600); furniture (500); silver (2,000); pewter, copper, cast iron, and other metals (500); ceramics (1,200); glass (300); clothing and accessories (4,000); textiles (500); and historical artifacts (5,450).

The Albany Institute’s library collections offer documentation of the social, economic, and cultural history of Albany and the surrounding region and include: photographs (85,000); manuscript collections (1,000 linear feet); maps (300); broadsides and posters (300); and ephemera, rare books, architectural plans, and the archives of the Albany Institute.