4 Museums in Albany You Need to Visit

As one of America’s first colonies, the now-bustling city of Albany, NY, has plenty of history, culture, and art to go around. For those wanting to learn more about the New York capital, it can be hard even knowing where to start. Fortunately, Albany is home to some of the most unique, educational, and downright fun museums in the state.
From a fully functional, freely rideable 1916 carousel to a perfectly preserved WWII destroyer escort ship, even New York natives may be surprised by the gems hiding in their own backyard. Out-of-town visitors, meanwhile, might start looking at Albany houses for sale just so they never have to leave!

Discover Albany Visitors Center

One of the city’s best-kept secrets, don’t let this unassuming little building fool you. The Discover Albany Visitors Center is a must-see experience for anyone seeking a crash-course in all things Albany. The center not only provides a wealth of information on the region’s many tourist destinations, but it also offers a variety of tours for newbies and natives alike. A permanent collection of historic displays chronicle Albany’s Dutch and English past, while rotating exhibitions from local artists provide a glimpse into the city’s present and future.

New York State Museum

For those interested in a more expansive experience, the 100,000-square-foot New York State Museum is home to more than 16 million scientific specimens and one million cultural objects. The museum opened in 1836 and has never stopped adding one-of-a-kind items. On display, you’ll find the nearly 10-foot-tall skeleton of an Ice Age mastodon, life-size dioramas of scenes from the lives of indigenous Iroquois and Mohican tribes, jazz instruments from the Harlem Renaissance, and a touching multimedia tribute to the tragedy of 9/11. Finally, no visit would be complete without a ride on the fourth floor’s century-old full-sized carousel.

USS Slater

Looking for a museum that’s a little… different? How about one that isn’t on land, but on the water! The USS Slater is a World War II-era Cannon-class destroyer escort ship, the last of its kind still afloat in the United States. After a lifetime protecting American naval forces in the Pacific Ocean, the USS Slater was retired from service in 1991 before being restored to its original 1945 configuration and now stands as a National Historic Landmark. Visitors who take the museum’s deck-by-deck guided tour will see the ship exactly as it was during WWII and learn all about its history, mechanics, and function, as well as about the lives of its crew members, many of whom donated their own personal items and gear for display.

Albany Institute of History & Art

Since 1791, the Albany Institute of History & Art, one of the country’s oldest museums, has meticulously compiled and catalogued documents, relics, and works of art from New York’s Upper Hudson River Valley. From paintings, sculptures, and rare books to early maps, architectural plans, and even a pair of Egyptian mummies brought to Albany by steamship in 1909, walking through the institute’s 35,000 plus exhibits is like walking through time itself. Additionally, the museum regularly offers special events, such as hands-on workshops, musical performances, book signings, and more. More than just a collection of artifacts, the institute is a seemingly bottomless resource for those looking to expand their minds.

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