The Erie Canal Museum was established in 1962, at the time known simply as the Canal Museum. It was initially founded to save the Syracuse Weighlock Building from demolition. At the time the Museum was founded, it held no collections. Since then the collections have grown primarily through gifts.
Due to limitations of space and finances for collections care, the Museum strives to develop the collections through careful and judicious additions of artifacts and archival material. The collections of the Erie Canal Museum consist of nearly 60,000 artifacts, covering a wide variety of items reflecting the material culture of the 19th and early 20th centuries in upstate New York.
These collections include, approximately: 1,400 objects (costumes, furnishings, tools, commemorative and documentary items, canal boat equipment, models, and household items); 1,500 prints; 950 sketches and drawings; 45 paintings; 39,000 photographs and negatives; 100 glass plate negatives; 200 rare books; and, miscellaneous maps, plans, receipts, and other manuscript and archival material.
We are working to digitize our collection and make it more accessible to the public. You can find what we’ve done so far by clicking here.
The cataloging and digitizing project has been funded by grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Delmas Foundation and with support from the Canal Society of New York State.
If you are interested in using our collection for research, please fill out our Research/Image Request form.
Collection Spotlight Spot
If you are interested in helping us care for and display our collection, you can donate to our Curatorial Fund.