In 1836, the Young Men’s Association was founded in the City of Buffalo. As the center for organized cultural activities in the city, the YMA’s committees dealt with the public library, science, literature and art. In most small towns, the public library is the recipient of all manner of curiosities and interesting objects; consequently, the YMA became the proud owner of numerous specimens, minerals, fossils, shells, insects, pressed plants, sea weeds and various paintings and articles of historic value. The acquisition of these specimens called for a cabinet for their display - thus began the collection that would lead to the Buffalo Museum of Science we have today.
In 1861, as collections and interest in the natural sciences grew, the men decided to organize a Natural History Society. A paper was circulated throughout the city to see who might be interested in pursuing this venture - the signatures included that of former president Millard Fillmore.
The first meeting of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences took place in 1861 and the Honorable George W. Clinton, son of four term Governor of New York Dewitt Clinton, was elected the first President. The Society's first home was above the New York and Erie Bank, on the third floor of the Jewett Building in Buffalo.
After several temporary locations and with the support of the City of Buffalo, the Society opened the doors to a magnificent, state-of-the-art facility at the end of Humboldt Parkway on Buffalo's East Side on January 19, 1929 now known as the Buffalo Museum of Science.
Over the 80 years since its erection, the museum witnessed several renovations and the attachment in 1990 of the Dr. Charles R. Drew Science Magnet Elementary School in a multi-story addition. The school serves more than 1,100 students and offers specialized science education in the Museum. We were the first museum in the nation to have an elementary school both physically and programmatically linked.
In 1982, the Museum entered a commitment for operation of the 264-acre Tifft Nature Preserve for environmental education. It features five miles of hiking trails, a self-guided nature and fitness trail, a 75-acre freshwater cattail marsh and man-made lakes which attract wildlife throughout the year.
As the Museum continues to grow and looks to the future, which will most likely include a major expansion of the Museum's facilities, we consistently strive to present premier traveling and permanent exhibits, and educational programming. Pledging to showcase exhibits and programming to motivate learning, the Buffalo Museum of Science provides smart fun for visitors for all ages.
A significant part of the Museum's collection of over 700,000 specimens pertain to the Greater Niagara Region and form by far the most complete record of life in all of its forms in this area in anthropology, botany, entomology, mycology, paleontology and zoology . They provide a good representation of the present and past natural history of the Niagara Frontier of New York and adjacent Ontario, as well as material of worldwide provenance of value in teaching, exhibition and research. The Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences maintains three principal categories of collections: research collections, special collections and teaching collections.
Our research staff are involved in a broad range of projects including the reconstruction of Pleistocene and post-Pleistocne environments and ecological communities in Western New York, ecological management, insect and fungal taxonomy and systematics, evolutionary theory and biogeography, and the evolution of human origins. Additional areas of research by the museum's local Research Fellows and Research Associates include lithics analysis, Mesozoic dinosaurs, and colonial and native American archeology. Other collaborations involve partnerships with Research Associates within the US and abroad. See our current research programs here.
Inspiring curiosity through exploration.
Due to an increased volume in the number of requests, the Buffalo Museum of Science is no longer able to honor all donation requests. The museum has instituted a policy restricting donations to educational institutions and registered 501c(3) cultural organizations. Requests must be submitted on official letterhead and should be made at least four weeks prior to the date the donation is needed. All requests will be reviewed for consistency with the museum’s donation policy; however, the museum may not notify groups or organizations if the request does not meet policy criteria.
The programs of the Buffalo Museum of Science are supported in part by public funds from the County of Erie, City of Buffalo and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.