In 1836, the Young Men’s Association (YMA) 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. 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.
In 1982, the Museum entered a commitment for operation of the 264-acre Tifft Nature Preserve at Buffalo’s Outer Harbor for environmental education. The Preserve, which is just minutes from downtown Buffalo, 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.
Since 1921, 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. The Buffalo Museum of Science was the first museum in the nation to have an elementary school both physically and programmatically linked.
The Museum Today
Since 2010, the BMS has been on an aggressive path to renovate all of the museum’s permanent exhibit experiences, transforming its former diorama-based exhibits into eight highly interactive and immersive science studio exhibit spaces. These studios and accompanying workshop spaces leverage collections pieces as a foundation of history and information, and then combine them with immersive exhibits and environments to create modern exhibition spaces. The Museum also added the Buffalo Museum of Science 3D Cinema.
The Museum completed this historic transformation with the restoration and reopening of its rooftop Kellogg observatory in July 2018.
In 2021, the Museum opened Western New York’s newest early childhood sensory space with an Erie County twist – SensERIE! This new permanent exhibit gallery on the Museum’s first floor offers three distinct Erie County-based environments – forest, city and an underwater scene – that encourage young explorers to learn and understand the world around them by using their senses of touch, sight, and sound.
A significant part of the Museum’s collection of more than 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.
The Buffalo Society of Natural Science’s 2022-2026 Strategic Plan was approved by its Board of Managers in November 2021. The Plan aims to harness the collective skills and resources of the Buffalo Museum of Science and Tifft Nature Preserve to be the leading cultural voice for science in our region.
BOARD OF MANAGERS, 2023 – 2024
Keith Lukasik, Chair of Board
The Chartis Group
Jessica Copeland, Vice Chair of Board
Member and Co-Chair of the Cybersecurity Practice Group,
Bond Schoeneck & King
Austin Kelly, Treasurer of Board
The Black Oak Group, LLC
Matthew Frank, Assistant Treasurer of Board
National Fuel Supply Corp.
Joseph Lombardo, Secretary of Board
Senior Executive Vice President, Strategy and Transformation
President and CEO
Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences
Vice President, Internal Audit and Corporate Compliance
Chief Compliance and Privacy Officer
Ann “Amy” Bisantz, PhD
Dean of Undergraduate Education and Professor of Industrial & Systems Engineering
State University of New York at Buffalo
Katherine Cauley, J.D.
Hodgson Russ LLP
Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer
Five Star Bank
Group Vice President and General Manager Military Sector
Kathy Hoelscher Glieco
Vice President of Marketing
Cynthia Hoover, PhD
Carolyn Hoyt Stevens
Real Estate Professional
Gurney Becker & Bourne
Director, Engineering Digital Transformation
Northrop Grumman Corporation
CEO and Founder
Senior Vice President
M&T Bank Technology
Head and Neck Surgical Oncologist
Delaware Medical Group and ECMC
UB Medical School
Richard Smith III
President & CEO
Muhammed “Mo” Sumbundu
Director of Community Relations, WNY
Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
International Trade Manager, WNY
Empire State Development – Global NY
President and CEO
Raymond Vaughan, PhD
Environmental Scientist / Professional Geologist
Interim President and CEO
Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences
Oluwole “O.J.” McFoy
Buffalo Sewer Authority
Director of Health Equity
Erie County Department of Health