Albany Institute of History & Art

Special Place

Albany Institute of History & Art

The mission of the Albany Institute of History & Art is to collect, preserve, interpret and promote interest in the history, art and culture of Albany and the Upper Hudson Valley region through its exhibitions, education programs, library, research projects,  publications and other programs offered to the general public.

Founded in 1791, the Albany Institute of History & Art is one of the oldest museums in the United States.   It was established before the Smithsonian Institute, the Metropolitan Museum in New York City and the Louvre in Paris.

The genesis of the Albany Institute of History & Art was The Society for the Promotion of Agriculture, Arts and Manufactures, founded in New York City in Federal Hall. Supported by the New York State Legislature, to which it served as an informational advisor, the Society’s purpose was to improve the State’s economy through advances in agricultural methods. In accordance with the condition that they meet where the legislature convened, the Society moved to Albany in 1797 when it became the state capital.

AIHA’s collections are comprised of over 35,000 objects and over 1,000,000 documents in the library.  Together these collections document the people and events that shape our region and are used to interpret its rich and complex history.

The museum’s exhibitions balance the Institute’s dual mission as an art and history museum, our exhibitions, most of which transcend single disciplines, examine the roots of our region as well as today’s history, and showcase current scholarship in art and art history.  

AIHA’s education programs serve over 10,000 families, students and adult learners every year.  Its programs help people of all ages connect to their shared histories and the arts and culture of the Upper Hudson Valley, especially in our public schools. Arts and humanities courses have been eliminated as the Institute’s role becomes even more amplified.

Recently, A new partnership between the Albany Institute of History and Art and Google Cultural Institute was announced which will include the Albany Institute with 400 other existing online art collections from around the world to preserve and promote culture online.  

The Albany Institute relies on volunteers including retirees to help with educational programs, special events, and administrative support. Docents provide programs for K-12th grade school groups, lead gallery tours for adult groups and contribute assistance for special events.  Through gallery interpretation and programming, docents make the objects and exhibitions in the museum relevant to visitors.  Our volunteers are involved in many aspects of the Albany Institute and are essential to our success.