The New York State Museum was created by State legislation in 1870 out of the old State Cabinet, which held the specimens collected by the State Geological and Natural History Survey, James Hall, then State Geologist and Palaeontologist within the Survey, was named Director of the Museum. Hall's need to possess and study vast quantities of paleontological specimens required space for collections storage and processing. His collections became the major supply of specimens for the Cabinet and eventually the Museum. After the original Survey was disbanded, in the early 1840's, Hall's presence gave the Cabinet a definite geological character. As the chief geological scientist, Hall considered the geological research of the Cabinet and later the Museum as a product of the "Geological Survey of New York," even though no formal designation of such a unit was ever proclaimed by state legislation. After all, other states were forming geological research units similar to Hall's and calling them geological surveys. It made sense for good communications for Hall and his predecessor State Geologists to refer to their staff as the New York State Geological Survey. Eventually, through a series of other legislative acts, most importantly in 1904 and 1945, the Museum was made the formal administrative home for the Geological Survey and, thus, its guardian. Museum Directors, therefore, have had the principle role in determining the fate of geological and paleontological research within the Geological Survey, After 1926, when the first non-geologist became director, the Museum's research scope grew faster in other natural and social history areas, such as botany, entomology, zoology, archaeology, ethnology, and history. This expansion is exemplified by the addition of a State Historian to the Education Department in 1895. During its 150-year history the Geological Survey has moved six times, and it is now housed in the Cultural Education Center in the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York.
The New York State Museum: Child of the Geological Survey that Grew to be its Guardian
- Views Icon Views
- Share Icon Share
- Search Site
Robert Fakundiny, Ellis Yochelson, Robert Fakundiny; The New York State Museum: Child of the Geological Survey that Grew to be its Guardian. Earth Sciences History 1 January 1987; 6 (1): 125–133. doi: https://doi.org/10.17704/eshi.6.1.9w66h2g183510672
Download citation file: