Education Programs for Groups

Turn the New York State Museum into your classroom where students can explore, engage with, and learn about New York State’s unique treasures. Register for a group program tailored to compliment classwork in social studies, science, art and culture.

Hours and Availability

In person Museum Instructor Led Programs are available from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and Virtual Educational Programs are available Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Review Programs

Read Course Descriptions and identity a program for your group.  

List of Programs

Adirondack Animals

Compare different Adirondack mammals and investigate how they live, their habitats, and what they need to survive. Explore Bird Hall to discover and compare bird adaptations.

Participants in this program will understand different animals by investigating exhibits and describing their adaptations.

Adirondack Hall and Bird Hall
Best for PreK-K
NYS Standards: Science: P-LS1-1, P-LS1-2; K-LS1-1 ELA: KW6, KSL1, 2, 3, 4, 5
30 minutes

Bird Skeleton Evolution Lab

Predict and measure bird skeletons to examine adaptations in this comparative-anatomy science lab.

Participants in this program will examine evidence of the process of evolution using scientific method and observation.

Museum classroom and Bird Hall
Best for 8th–12th Grades
NYS Standards: Science: LS4.C; MS-LS4-6; HS-LS4-1, 2 & 4
45 minutes

Birds and Mammals

Available for Teleconferenced Virtual Visit

Meet ducks, owls, squirrels, beavers, and more as you explore the wonderful world of birds and mammals. Interactively explore mammal skulls and specimens in a museum classroom and conduct research on the birds of bird hall exploring migration, habitat, nesting and more. 

Students participating in this program will compare evidence of different traits of birds and mammals and their structures that support survival.

This program takes place in a museum classroom and Birds of New York Hall.
Best for 3rd - 6th Grades
NYS Standards: Science: 3-LS3-1, 3-LS4-2; 4-LS1-1, LS1.A, LS2.A; MS-LS1-4
45 minutes

Cradleboards and Longhouses

Explore the life of an Iroquois child of 500 years ago. Museum educators will present hands-on materials and pose leading questions about the exhibits which students will explore.

Students participating in this program will be exposed to Haudenosaunee culture from 500 years ago. Students can compare Haudenosaunee families from 500 years ago to their own, and learn how this culture utilized their environment. 

This program takes place in a classroom and the Longhouse and Three Sisters growing field exhibits.
Best for PreK - 2nd Grades, emphasis on 1st grade
NYS Standards: S.S. Framework: 1.1a, 1.6a, 1.7b, 1.8a ELA: 1R3, 1SL1, 1SL4
30 minutes

Ellis Island Experience

Join a museum educator on an interactive tour through the NYS Museum’s immigration exhibits to learn about the immigrant experience. Students will engage with the exhibits and primary documents to answer questions about immigration, such as: Why do people leave their homes? What was the trip like? What possible challenges and rewards await immigrants in a new land?

Students participating in this program will learn about general conditions that cause movements of people; what a typical voyage entailed; the experiences of new immigrants at Ellis Island; and the working, living, and educational conditions that new immigrants faced after entering the United States.

This program takes place in NY Metropolis
Best for 3rd-5th grades, emphasis on 4th grade
NYS Standards: S.S. Framework: 4.7a, ELA: 4R1, 4R2, 4SL1, 4SL2
45 minutes

Fur and Feathers

Available for Teleconferenced Virtual Visit

Explore mammals and birds of New York. Work with a partner to identify mystery skulls and find birds with specific adaptations in Bird Hall.

Participants in this program will compare the diversity of life in different habitats and understand the adaptations that help birds and mammals to survive. 

This program takes place in Adirondack Hall, a classroom, and Birds of New York Hall.
Best for 1st - 2nd Grades
NYS Standards: Science: LS1.D; 2-LS4-1; LS2.A, LS4.D
30 minutes

Minerals Rock!

Available for Teleconferenced Virtual Visit

Identify rocks and minerals based on observations and scientific method. Explore the mineral exhibits to search for minerals and investigate the bedrock of New York’s Adirondack Park.

Students who participate in this program will understand the processes that form rocks and minerals and how to differentiate between Adirondack rocks and minerals.

This program takes place in a museum classroom, the Mineral exhibit, and Adirondack Hall.
Best for 4th - 12th Grades
NYS Standards: Science: MS-ESS2-1, MS-ESS3-1, HS-ESS2-2
45 minutes

Museum History Detectives – Investigate Fire Engines!

Determine the age of fire engines by examining evidence and exploring technology through time with an inquiry activity. Students investigate their fire engine and compare it to other engines in the NYS Museum collection in order build a chronological timeline.

Students participating in this program will identify evidence of technological changes to understand past and present methods of firefighting.

Best for PreK-2nd Grade, emphasis on Kindergarten
NYS Standards: S.S. Framework: K.8 ELA: KW6, KSL1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Science: K-PS2-1, ETS1.A, K-ESS2-2, K-ESS3-2, K-PS3-1, K-PS2-2
30 minutes

Native Peoples of New York - A Journey

When did the first people come to New York? Take a gallery tour of the NYS Museum to learn about the early human inhabitants of the state. Museum educators pose questions about the exhibits to engage students with information from the ice age to the Contact Period.

Students participating in this program will be able to explain why humans have not always inhabited New York, be exposed to several theories as to how the first people came to North America, and explore how the geography and climate influenced the cultures of the Native Peoples of New York.

This program takes place in Native Peoples Hall.
Best for 6th-8th grades, emphasis on 7th grade
NYS Standards: S.S. Framework: 7.1a ELA: 7R1, 7SL1, 7SL2, 7SL4 Science: MS-LS2-1, MS-LS2-4
45 minutes

People of the Longhouse

Available for Teleconferenced Virtual Visit

What were Iroquois culture, community, and confederacy like over 500 years ago? Students will examine archaeological evidence, first-hand accounts, and step into a full-size reconstruction of a Mohawk longhouse to explore the material culture, values, and daily-life of Iroquois families. Students will discover the many types of evidence they need to build a deeper understanding of the lives of the men, women and children who lived 500 years ago in an Iroquois village.

Students participating in this program will know how the Haudenosaunee used their environment to meet their needs and wants, what technology they used, and learn how historians and archeologists obtain their information. 

This program takes place in a museum classroom and the Longhouse.
Best for 3rd-5th Grades, emphasis on 4th grade
NYS Standards: S.S. Framework: 4.2a, 4.2b, and 4.2c ELA: 4SL1, 4SL2
45 minutes

Tenement – Beyond Ellis Island

What was life like after immigration to New York? Using a combination of hands-on activities, primary documents, and Museum exhibits, students work with a museum instructor to learn about the working and living conditions of immigrants and other New Yorkers in NYC.

During the program, students will learn about increased urbanization and population density, the effects of increased immigration, progressive reform movements to improve working and living conditions, and will compare conditions for the lowest and highest economic strata in NYC.

This program takes place in NY Metropolis Hall: 5th Ave., Street Scenes, and Birth of a Metropolis
Best for 8th Grade
NYS Standards: S.S. Framework: 8.2b, 8.2c, 8.2d, 8.2e ELA: 4SL1, 4SL2, 8SL1, 8SL2
45 minutes

Be Prepared

Prepare for your visit by reviewing the following Museum policies and procedures. Also included is information regarding parking and lunchroom reservations.

  • Directions and Arrival Procedures


    The New York State Museum is housed in the Cultural Education Center in Albany, New York. The Cultural Education Center (CEC) is at the south end of the Empire State Plaza, across Madison Avenue (Route 20) from the Plaza (at the opposite end from the Capitol). 

    Group Entrance

    The Group Entrance to the New York State Museum is at the rear of the Museum on Park Avenue between South Swan and Eagle Streets, directly across from Lincoln Park. All School bus and/or group carpool loading/unloading takes place through the group entrance. PDF icon 05-visitprep-groupentrance.pdf

    Parking: Buses (School Buses and/or Coaches)

    After dropping groups off at the Museum's Group Entrance on Park Avenue, buses are required to park at a free, off-site lot. Please review the off-site directions and map prior to your departure. PDF icon 05-visitprep-busparking.pdf

    Free Shuttle Service from the off-site lot to the State Museum/Empire State Plaza is available through the Office of General Services (OGS). For Bus Drivers and/or staff who wish to join their group at the Museum after parking, please review the shuttle schedule and be sure to return to your vehicle with enough time to promptly pick up students from the Group Entrance at the conclusion of their visit.

    Parking: General Public (includes groups arriving with cars or vans)

    Parking for the general public is available in the two lots adjacent to the Museum, both located off of Madison Avenue. Prior to 10:00 a.m., the parking fee is $10. After 10:00 a.m., the parking fee is $5. Parking is free after 2:00 p.m. A visitor lot is available in the Empire State Plaza. 

  • Museum Conduct Policy

    Please review the following guidelines with your group, teachers and chaperones prior to your visit. Any groups not able to adhere to these guidelines will be asked to leave. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

    Code of Conduct

    • One adult must accompany each group of ten children (1:10).
    • Be courteous to other visitors: use "inside voices" and share exhibit spaces with other groups and visitors.
    • Safety is important: No running, smoking, yelling, or rough-housing.
    • No food, drink, candy, or chewing gum. Dispose of all trash in trash receptacles.
    • No abusive language or gestures.
    • Groups failing to observe these guidelines will be asked to leave the museum.

    Artifacts and Displays

    Please help us protect and preserve the priceless objects in our collections. Do not touch the items on display, or use exhibit cases, walls or pedestals as writing surfaces.


    Photography is allowed is most galleries, except where noted for special exhibits. Tripods and secondary lights may not be used.

  • Meal Options

    Bag Lunch: Reserved Seating in the Museum's Lunch Room

    Limited indoor seating is available in the Museum's Student Center, Monday through Friday. A half hour slot will be assigned to your group according to the start of your scheduled tour. This option should be indicated on your Registration Form. Bag lunches can be temporarily stored indoors when group lunches are boxed or contained and marked with your school or group's name. 

    Bag Lunch: Picnic!

    Spring, Summer and early Fall are beautiful in Albany and many people enjoy eating lunch on Empire State Plaza, just across from the State Capitol. Bag lunches can be temporarily stored indoors when group lunches are boxed or contained and marked with your school or group's name.

    Lunch at the Concourse Food Court

    On the Concourse Level of the Empire State Plaza there are a number of food choices, including McDonalds. No prior notice to the Museum is required. More information on dining selections in the concourse.

  • Information for Chaperones

    We recognize the valuable contribution chaperones provide to visiting groups. We want to make their visit and experience supervising students throughout the Museum as seamless and rewarding as possible.

    Below you will find materials regarding strategies chaperones can employ to help students navigate through the museum safely and constructively. We have also created a ready-made form you can print and send to chaperones to help them anticipate topics that will be covered during your visit to the State Museum. 

  • Floor Plans
  • Museum Facts

    Origins of the Museum

    The origins of the New York State Museum can be traced back to the 1836 establishment of the New York State Geological and Natural History Survey. The goal of the survey was to conduct "a grand and comprehensive collection of the natural productions of the State of New York." In 1842, New York State Legislature officially created the "State Cabinet of Natural History", and in 1870, the Cabinet was officially renamed the "New York State Museum".

    Museum about Town

    The Museum has been housed in several locations throughout downtown Albany, including the Geological and Agricultural Hall, the Court of Appeals Building, the Capitol Building, the State Education Building, and, at its present location, the Cultural Education Center. In 1911, the Museum lost nearly 10,000 archaeological artifacts and ethnographic objects when the State Capitol was ravaged by fire.

    Exhibitions, Collections and Research

    The Museum is not just an exhibit space, but a major research and educational institution that conducts systematic investigations into the fields of geology, biology, anthropology and the history of New York. The Museum's collections include over 12 million specimens and artifacts that reflect over 175 years of research in the earth sciences, biology, and human history.

    The Museum Today

    Today, the Museum is the single largest tourist attraction in the Capital Region, welcoming over 750,000 visitors annually.

After reviewing each step, if you have any additional questions, please contact the Museum Group Registration Office: (518) 474-5843, or e-mail