In 1863, New York State began collecting military paraphernalia related to New York State’s military forces, the state’s military history and the contributions of New York veterans. The collection had not secured a permanent home until the Governor announced in 2001 that the historic armory in Saratoga Springs, NY would be renovated to house the collection. The building, designed by Isaac Perry and constructed in 1889, is a fine example of armory architecture that was popular in upstate New York in the late 1800’s.
Today, the museum houses over 10,000 artifacts dating from the Revolutionary War to Desert Storm. The artifacts include uniforms, weapons, artillery pieces, and art. A significant portion of the museum’s collection is from the Civil War. Notable artifacts from this conflict include Colonel Elmer Ellsworth’s (the Union’s first martyr) uniform, the medical kit of Jubal Early’s surgeon, and the uniform and bugle of Gustav Schurmann (General Philip Kearny’s boy bugler). Included in the museum are significant holdings relating to New York’s 27th Division in World War I and World War II and notable state military regiments such as the 7th (Silk Stocking Regiment), 69th (Fighting Irish), 71st, and 369th (Harlem Hell fighters) New York Infantry.
The museum also owns the largest collection of state battle flags in the country and the largest collection of Civil War flags in the world. Of the over 2000 flags in the collection, more than 60% are from the Civil War. The flags date from the War of 1812 through the 1991 Gulf War. The museum maintains an exhibit of its flag collection in the state capitol building in Albany where the museum collection was originally housed