GALLERY TALK Uncovering the Albany Wampum Factory

Our guests include Renée Ridgway, artist and Paul Huey, retired archaeologist at the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.

Renée Ridgway, artist
Paul Huey, retired archaeologist at the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation

In his discussion with Ridgway, Huey will present the discoveries during Albany’s tercentennial year (1986), which also marked 300 years since the establishment of the city’s first almshouse. The dig was carried out at Norton Street during the construction of the new KeyCorp building and among the found artifacts were many fragments of broken clamshells and conch shells. Soon thereafter it was realized that these shells were the debris from wampum bead manufacture, along with partially finished beads that had been broken during the production process. A later analysis of all the artifacts indicated that during the 18th century the almshouse had become a virtual ‘wampum factory’ (, where the occupants of the almshouse were kept busy with the painstaking process of making the tiny beads from shells that were used as legal tender.

Furthermore, Huey will share material from the Fort Orange excavation, which occurred in the winter of 1970-1971 and aroused new interest in the history and archeology of the colonial Dutch. At the Schuyler Flatts excavations (1971 and 1974) there was also evidence of beadmaking from conch shells and Huey will share the artifacts along with some of his recent findings.

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For questions, please contact Mimi Fahy, Special Events Associate, at 518-463-4478 x418 or email


Saturday, June 1, 2024 at the Fort Orange Club, Albany NY.

Alan is one of the Albany Institute’s closest friends, serving on the museum’s board of trustees since 1989. Alan was its Chair from 1994 -1999 and led the fundraising that transformed the Albany Institute into the modern museum facility and campus we have today. That fundraising effort positioned the museum to complete a capital campaign, and begin providing world-class exhibitions, year-round education programming for all ages, and host special events to over 20,000 visitors annually. Alan is currently the Institute's Vice Chair.

For questions about Corporate Sponsorship, please contact Nicholas DeMarco, Director of Development, at 518-463-4478 x437 or email


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