Staten Island Museum History

The Staten Island Museum traces its beginnings to 1881, when a group of 14 young naturalists on Staten Island had the foresight to pool their collections and research efforts out of a concern that “the rapid growth of the community [has already] obliterated many of our most interesting natural objects.” Their goal was to keep a record for future generations against the anticipated loss of plant and animal species and to advocate for environmental preservation long before it was fashionable to do so.

Today, the Staten Island Museum maintains and continues to build, in authentic specimens, photographs and field notes, an unbroken record of the changing biodiversity of the region, spanning more than 150 years.

By 1905, the collecting focus of the founders expanded to include works of art and important historic documents, creating in essence a “mini Smithsonian” that was focused on providing a cultural education for the residents of the Island community.

As the Staten Island Museum grew throughout the 20th century, it became a center for intellectual and scientific discourse, reaching well beyond its walls to be instrumental in the founding of a number of important institutions such as the Staten Island Zoo, the S.I. Historical Society, the S.I. Greenbelt and the New York Botanical Garden.

The Museum’s Expansion to Snug Harbor Cultural Center

The Staten Island Museum is currently renovating Building A to become its future home. The current expansion project was preceded by the renovation of the adjacent Building H into a new home for the Museum’s History Archives (2009), the establishment of the Staten Island History Center and the creation of the Art Conservation Studio (2008). With the new building we add over 10,000 square feet of public space filled with art works and natural science objects that have been out of the public eye for many decades. The interdisciplinary nature of the Museum’s collections enables it to create exhibitions and programs that will appeal to a wide range of visitors.