Housing 16 million scientific specimens and an additional million human-made objects in its 100,000-square-foot (9,000-square-meter) exhibit space, the New York State Museum is one of the biggest and oldest state museums in the United States. The site is devoted to interactively teaching visitors about the natural, political and cultural history of one of the most influential states in the union. Tour the museum, a treat for young and old.
Start on the first floor, where a gallery features artists from across New York State. Stop at the information desk to find out about the museum’s rotating exhibits, involving subjects from women’s suffrage, to Sesame Street, to the New York City subway system. Before going upstairs, be amazed at the enormous skeleton of the Cohoes Mastodon, or woolly mammoth, that once roamed the area that is now Albany.
Feel and smell rocks in the museum’s interactive mineral gallery. Picture yourself inside the dioramas of Harlem in the 1920s or the wigwams of the native peoples of New York State. Pay your respects to the poignant and respectful tribute to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack, which features one of the fire engines that was part of the rescue. Immerse yourself in the wild past and serene present of the Adirondacks. Once you’ve had enough learning, climb to the fourth floor, where a vintage working carousel whirls visitors around for free.
The New York State Museum is located at the southern end of Nelson A. Rockefeller Plaza, near the State Capitol and The Egg. Bus stops with connections to the rest of the city are located on the street directly in front. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from mid morning to early evening and is closed on major holidays. The carousel opens 30 minutes after the rest of the museum. Admission is free, although a donation amount is suggested. Park for a fee in the adjacent lot, which is free in the late afternoon. Free street parking is also available nearby. The museum is fully handicapped-accessible.