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Department of State

New Jersey State Museum

The Hon. Tahesha Way, Secretary of State

New Jersey State Museum Update

Due to the current public health emergency, the New Jersey State Museum is closed to the public until further notice. Previously scheduled special events will be rescheduled if possible.

For any specific inquiries, please visit nj.gov/health or call the 24-hour hotline at 1-800-222-1222.

Mosasaurus maximus

Explore The Museum

Current Exhibitions

Preserving the Pinelands: Albert Horner’s Portraits of a National Treasure

Preserving the Pinelands

On view through August 16

The exhibit will feature images which capture the quiet beauty and intimate landscapes of New Jersey’s Pinelands National Reserve by photographer Albert Horner, and artifacts from the NJ State Museum’s collections which tell just some of the stories of the land, animals, people and industries that make the Reserve a state and national treasure. The 40th anniversary of the Pinelands Preservation Act, considered by former Governor Brendan Byrne to be the most important accomplishment of his administration, and the issue most central to his legacy as governor, will be commemorated in 2019. Horner, a self-taught photographer from Medford Lakes, brings curiosity, reverence and a practiced eye to his craft, recording the forests, cedar swamps, meandering waterways and native wildflowers that make the Pinelands unique. In addition to being home to rare plant and animal species, the Reserve also contains archeological sites and a vibrant cultural history of craftspeople, industry and agriculture.

Fine Feathered Friends: Birds as Mainstay and Muse

Fine Feathered Friends

On view through September 13

They occupy our forests, fields, parks, beaches, farms, backyards and even our homes. Indeed, birds are everywhere. But many New Jerseyans remain largely unaware of the profound natural and cultural significance of these ubiquitous avian creatures.

This exhibition will bring together a wide assortment of artifacts and specimens to explore two concepts about our fine feathered friends – their status as an important ecological mainstay and their historical role as a design-inspiring force – or muse – for New Jersey artisans in the decorative arts.

A Virtual version of the exhibition can be view here: www.flickr.com/photos/njstatemuseum/collections/72157714167946541/

Find your feathered friends with this mini bird guide!

Nikon Small World Photomicrography Exhibition

Nikon Small World Logo

Collection Exhibitions

The Civil War Flag Collection of New Jersey

Now Open!
Main Building - South Gallery, 1st floor

Get up close and personal with a rare collection of flags carried into battle by New Jersey’s Civil War soldiers and learn about our important role in the history of the War Between the States. New Jersey is one of the few states to actively display its Civil War flags, which were often returned to capital cities after the war.

The flags change periodically, allowing visitors to experience new examples from the collection.

Written in the Rocks: Fossil Tales of New Jersey

Mosasaurus maximus

On long-term view
Main Building - 2nd floor

The exhibition presents unique fossil stories that offer intriguing clues about our ever-changing planet, how life on Earth has evolved and adapted… or gone extinct. Step back 3.5 billion years to explore the geology of New Jersey, the oldest fossils from the state and the progression of life here. Learn about the evolution of turtles, fish, mammals and birds. Meet New Jersey’s own Dryptosaurus, the world’s first known carnivorous dinosaur, reconstructed and displayed for the first time ever! Marvel at a life-sized cast of New Jersey’s state dinosaur, Hadrosaurus foulkii, and a Mosasaurus maximus – a 50-foot marine reptile discovered in southern New Jersey. These two specimens are on long-term view thanks to support from NJM Insurance Group and the New Jersey State Museum Foundation. The exhibition concludes with a look at Ice Age animals and their modern day relatives.

Hadrosaur

The Fine Art Collection

IMAGE CREDIT: Charles Ward (1900-62)
Study for Mural (1934) - oil on board
NJ State Museum Collection
Gift of the Friends of the New Jersey State Museum
FA1999.3

On Long-term View
Main Building - 2nd Floor Galleries

This installation highlights the diversity of voices and visions found in 19th through 21st century American art. The exhibition explores the sources of artists' inspiration and how these inspirations changed over time; how travel to Europe - and the art being made there - influenced American trends; the impact of immigrant artists bringing their own sensibilities to the US; and how world and US events (historical, political, cultural, etc.) impacted artists.

The exhibition allows visitors to see that art-making does not happen in a stylistic or ideological vacuum. Works created by academic, expressionist, folk, modernist and visionary artists will be shown together in a roughly chronological format to present the range, variety and complexity of America's fine art. In addition, important works by significant NJ artists will be highlighted within the context of American art.

The exhibition was made possible, in part, with support from the Friends of the New Jersey State Museum through the Lucille M. Paris Fund.

Pretty Big Things

View of the Pretty Big Things gallery.

On Long-term View
Main Building - 3rd Floor

A 1,400-pound anvil made by Trenton's Fisher & Norris Eagle Anvil Works. An iron pot used to render whale blubber on the Jersey Shore. A hand-carved statue of the tallest American president. A "grandfather" clock made by the first African-American clockmaker. A grandiose Dutch immigrant wardrobe crafted in the 18th century.

What do these five historical artifacts have in common? They are all pretty big things. Using a non-traditional approach that eschews strict chronology, this educational exhibit consisting of compelling artifacts and hands-on activities for families takes visitors on an eclectic journey into unknown stories of New Jersey history using some of the "biggest" artifacts from the museum's Cultural History collection.

Do you know which American presidents have historical ties to our state? Can you name the symbols found on the Great Seal of the State of New Jersey? Did you ever wonder why New Jersey is called the Garden State? Do you know the difference between locally-made furniture types known as the linen press, the kast, and the chest-on-chest?

Can you name a New Jersey industry that was represented at the famous 1876 Centennial International Exposition in Philadelphia? Come to the State Museum in order to learn the answers to these big questions of New Jersey history and to celebrate the rich historic heritage of our state.

Pretty Big Things: Stories of New Jersey History is the long-term core exhibition for the New Jersey State Museum's Cultural History Bureau, a diverse collection of historical artifacts documenting the history of everyday life in New Jersey from colonial times through the present day.

The exhibition was made possible, in part, with support from the Friends of the New Jersey State Museum through the Lucille M. Paris Fund.

Preserving Traditions of the Delaware Indians

IMAGE CREDIT: Delaware Woman's Blouse with Silver Brooches (c.1810-80)
Cotton, cotton thread, silver and dye
Collected by anthropologist Frank G. Speck
from the daughter of Chief Wooden Buffalo
Gift of Frank G. Speck
AE 3202

On extended view
Main Building - Lower Level Gallery

This exhibition offers visitors a glimpse into the lives of the Delaware Indians over a two hundred year time span. From the 1740s to the 1890s, many of New Jersey's Indians moved out of the state ahead of the ever-expanding non-Indian population. Artist and chronicler of American Indians, George Catlin (1796-1872), noted as early as 1832 that the Delaware were among the most relocated Indians in the United States. This exhibition tells the story of these migrations.

In the late 1800s and into the 1900s, the Indians that remained in New Jersey survived by adapting to a market economy. They developed handcraft industries which produced items desired by non-Indian settlers. The Indians produced baskets and other woven items such as mats and brooms, as well as carved wooden pieces such as mortars and shovels.

The descendents of the Delaware Indians who left New Jersey, as well as those who stayed, continue to follow and adapt their cultural and religious traditions, thus preserving them for future generations and sharing them with all other cultures.

The objects on view, which date from the late 1700s to the early 1900s, include a woman's blouse with silver brooches, splint baskets, a wooden shovel, a leather pipe bag decorated with glass beads, children's moccasins and a child's basket.

The exhibition was made possible through funding support provided by PSEG Foundation, with additional generous support provided by the Friends of the New Jersey State Museum.

Cultures in Competition

IMAGE CREDIT: After Gustavus Hesselius Tish-Co-Han
A Delaware Chief (c.1837-1844)
Hand-colored lithograph from "The McKenney-Hall Portrait Gallery of American Indians"
Published by J.T. Bowen, Philadelphia
New Jersey State Museum Collection
Museum Purchase
FA1980.49.17

On long-term view
Main Building - Lower Level

The exhibition provides a view of the seventeenth-century Dutch, Swedish and English competition to start colonies within what is today New Jersey and to develop a successful fur trade with the Indians who were living here.

The visitor is given the opportunity to view this exciting period of history through Native American and European objects produced during this fierce competition. The impact of the Europeans' arrival and eventual settlement on the lifestyle of the Indian inhabitants is also presented through early documents and historic maps and drawings. Artifacts on display include a rare dugout canoe along with examples of seventeenth-century Indian fishing equipment and domestic and personal items drawn from the Museum's extensive Native American archaeological collections. English- and Dutch-made seventeenth-century trade goods recovered from excavations at Indian sites include metal axes and hoes, glass beads, a rare brass kettle, gun parts, and white clay smoking pipes.

A selection of tools and ornaments the Indians made from broken brass kettles is also in the exhibition, along with a reconstruction of how wampum (small shell beads) was made by the Indians. Historic wampum beads are displayed and the importance of the beads in the fur trade is presented through historic accounts. The exhibition includes the earliest images of the Indians of the area drawn by European colonists and the earliest maps showing sites of Indian settlements in the seventeenth-century.

The exhibition was funded by the Friends of the New Jersey State Museum through a generous grant from the Estate of Paul Stillman, Wachovia Bank, Executor.

New Jersey's Original People

IMAGE CREDIT: Leaf-Shaped Biface Blade
Gloucester County, NJ
Gift of Rutgers University, Special Collections
AE2010.11.906

On long-term view
Main Building - Lower Level

New Jersey's Original People: Interpreting the Archaeological Collection tells the story of New Jersey's native people and their cultural adaptation to an ever-changing climate. The term "Original People" is one translation of the word Lenni Lenape, the name of New Jersey's native peoples.

From shortly after the glaciers receded 13,000 years ago up to the 17th century, native people used the natural resources in their own environment, and later brought in from other areas, to help them survive. Their ingenuity and ability to adapt is demonstrated through the display and interpretation of artifacts from the Museum's extensive archaeological collections. Scholars recognize the Museum's holdings of more than 2.4 million archaeological objects as the definitive systematic research collection for the study of the prehistory of New Jersey and the Middle Atlantic region. Visitors will see the evolution of tools and other artifact types and uses, illustrating how native peoples adapted to environmental change. Through projection, hands-on and intuitive interactives, this exhibit highlights the many aspects of Native American life and speaks to the ingenuity of New Jersey's "original people."

An adjacent gallery, "The Science of Archaeology," also provides visitors with an opportunity to encounter an "active" dig site. The "Science of Archaeology" gallery also serves as a classroom, orienting visitors on the science behind archaeological excavations and investigations. This installation explores how archaeologists, through the ongoing collection and analysis of artifacts, interpret the stories of prehistoric life in the Garden State to educate and inform current and future residents.

The exhibition was made possible through lead funding support provided by the PSEG Foundation, with additional generous support provided by the Friends of the New Jersey State Museum.

NANO

On long-term view
Museum Auditorium

Open Tuesday – Friday ONLY

Imagine & discover a world you can’t see!

Nano is an interactive exhibition that engages family audiences in nanoscale science, engineering, and technology. Hands-on exhibits present the basics of nanoscience and engineering, introduce some real world applications, and explore the societal and ethical implications of this new technology.

Visitors can play with magnets to explore how materials behave differently at different sizes; use foam construction pieces to make a large model of a tiny structure called a carbon nanotube; listen, look, and touch to discover nano all around you; and take on the challenge of trying to create a stable nano.

The exhibit is made possible by the Princeton Center for Complex Materials in partnership with the Princeton Public Library and the NJ State Museum.

For more information about nano, visit www.whatisnano.org

Science History Art: Experience Your State Museum

IMAGE CREDIT: JAR, (Before 1941) Pueblo
Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico
clay, polychrome
Gift of Dr. Lancelot Ely
AE7122A

On long-term view
Museum Auditorium
City-side and Museum-side Galleries

Open Tuesday – Friday ONLY

The New Jersey State Museum is one of the oldest state museums in the nation, and was the first of its kind to be established with education at the heart of its mission. In the beginning, the Museum’s focus was on natural history, but today, the Museum includes important collections in Natural History, as well as Archaeology & Ethnography, Cultural History and Fine Art. This exhibition offers visitors a glimpse into the diversity of the collections which number well over 2,000,000 specimens, artifacts and objects.

Today, the Museum’s remains committed to education through the research and preservation of its collections. The Museum continues to expand and now includes well over 2 million specimens, artifacts and objects. These treasures are held in trust for the people of New Jersey to learn about our history, celebrate our place in the world and inform our future.

Our Story: New Jersey’s 9/11 Collection

Our Story: New Jersey’s 9/11 Collection

On long-term view
Museum Auditorium - Alcove Gallery

Open Tuesday – Friday ONLY

In 2011, the New Jersey State Museum commemorated the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 with an exhibition exploring the impact of the terrorist attacks on the people of the Garden State.

New Jersey’s 9/11 Collection - On that fateful day, nearly 700 New Jerseyans - the second highest casualty toll after New York - perished at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

In order to ensure the continued remembrance of this “Pearl Harbor moment” of our generation, the New Jersey State Museum’s collection of 9/11 artifacts was placed on long-term display.

Consisting of battered fragments of the World Trade Center, images of the relief and recovery efforts, and stories of remembrance and reflection at Ground Zero, the 9/11 Collection Gallery affords a place where future generations can understand and reflect on this turning point in world history and its impact on New Jersey.

 


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