Collections Highlights

The Collections Department houses and cares for all of the Museum’s three-dimensional objects, everything from coat buttons to automobiles.  (For two-dimensional items such as pictures, maps, books, and newspapers, please visit our Research Library.)  These are some of our most prized artifacts:

Iroquois
Pipe tomahawks, daily life in 1550 diorama, Red Jacket's Washington Peace Medal. Collection _highlight1.jpg

War of 1812
Armaments, uniforms, Oliver Hazard Perry's cased wine decanters, Peter B. Porter's presentation sword, commemorative Liverpool jugs. Here is a bibliography on the war of 1812, prepared by William H. Siener. (This bibiography is not limited to the Research  Library holdings.) For more 1812 references which list the Research Library holdings, look here.

Erie Canal
Commemorative plates, medals, ribbons, Canvas White's canal boat model.

Lives of three Presidents
Millard Fillmore's Union Continentals silver uniform buttons, and his charcoal sketch by George Healy, Grover Cleveland's wedding cakebox, William McKinley's cigars, and the revolver used by Leon Czolgosz in McKinley's assassination. CzolgoszGun.jpg

Industrialization
Bethlehem Steel patterns, steelworker tools and protective gear, Trico windshield wipers, Pierce Motorette, aircraft engines, and hundreds of other local products; artifacts associated with union labor, such as badges, ribbons, and a union musician's cap from Local 533, American Federation of Musicians, The Colored Musicians Local.

Immigrants
Personal tools, gear, and household effects from many of the region's diverse ethnic and cultural groups.

Aviation and the War Effort
Uniforms, equipment, weapons, Elias Brothers artifacts, and Bell and Curtiss Wright artifacts, including one of the oldest surviving Bell helicopters.

Textiles
The largest collection in Western New York, featuring quilts, samplers, lace, and clothing. EA_Dress.jpg

Paintings
Approximately 500 works documenting two centuries of the region's changing landscape, and the men and women who helped shape the area's history; nationally recognized artists including William H. Beard, Raphael Beck, Alvah Bradish, Thomas LeClear, Augustus Rockwell, Lars G. Sellstedt, and William Wilgus; John Mix Stanley's Trial of Red Jacket; and works by Joseph Josephs, a 19th century "colorful" sign painter and booster of both Buffalo and the early Republican party.

Glass and Ceramics
Collected by private individuals reflecting technological developments and taste in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

The Resource Center holds the country’s only surviving lighthouse lens from an early Winslow Lewis design, among its rare and prized items.