About the Museum

Experiencing History with You!    firsthome.jpg

An inspired group of history makers founded The Buffalo History Museum (TBHM), then called the Buffalo Historical Society, in 1862. They assembled a unique collection of regional paintings, photographs, artifacts, and manuscripts to share with researchers and the public. To accommodate the organization’s rapid growth, more space was needed. 

An ideal opportunity for a new, larger space presented itself during planning for the great exposition at the turn of the 19th century. Buffalo architect George Cary designed the New York State Building for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition.  It was designed to be reused as a permanent home for us. With the enlarged space, TBHM’s mission expanded and exhibitions emerged as a priority.

From handwritten business ledgers to innovations marking industries, from folders of neighborhood photos to complete soldiers’ footlockers, by 1950 TBHM catalogued and safeguarded a vast array of treasures. Today, more than 100,000 physical objects and over 200,000 photographs and 20,000 books mark time and in combination shape our understanding of Western New York’s story. Westward expansion, industrialization, immigration, transportation, Presidential, military and social history-these themes tie us to our nation’s story.

In 1960, our name expanded to become the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society.  In 2012, we shortened it to The Buffalo History Museum.

The Museum’s Library is responsible for all two-dimensional items in our collection: books, pamphlets, letters, diaries, personal papers, organizational & business records, periodicals, newspapers, scrapbooks, photographs, postcards, prints, drawings, posters, maps, atlases, microfilms, and DVDs.

We have major collections on the Holland Land Company, U.S. President Millard Fillmore, Seneca Indians, Buffalo Bills, the Pan-American Exposition, the Larkin Company, and much more.  Recent collecting initiatives include our Newlywed Project, a collection of wedding memorabilia from legally-wed same-sex couples throughout WNY, our vintage menu collection drive seeking original menus from locally owned restaurants and the world’s largest Buffalo Bills football memorabilia collection. 

Our WordPress blog offers in-depth essays about Museum artifacts & events.

Our collections tell the story of how Buffalo and Western New York became a force in the development – human and material - of the United States and the world.

The Buffalo History Museum is a private not-for-profit organization tax-exempt under Sec. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. We receive operating support from the County of Erie, the City of Buffalo, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and from donors, members and friends. The Buffalo History Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.


Experiencing history with you, by remembering, discovering, and sharing our stories; sparking emotional and social connections within our unique community.



  • Inspire personal connections through our community stories.
  • Be a hub for gathering, socializing, connecting, engaging, establishing networks and creating shared experiences.
  • Encourage our community to safeguard and enjoy our historic treasures.
  • Be the premier resource for Western New York history; a leading cultural and educational institution.
  • Be a thriving and influential center for the study, interpretation and publication of WNY history and an advocate for its importance.
  • Contribute to a better quality of life in WNY.
  • Engage our supporters as goodwill ambassadors for the Museum and for Western NY.
  • Ensure sustainable financial capital and talented personnel to support our vision for the future.

Core Values

Beliefs guiding our behaviors and our craft. 


Demonstrating the highest level of honesty, integrity, and authenticity in all forms of communication, exhibits, and in our interactions with all people. 


Thinking together, valuing each other’s perspective and contributions, in order for creative new ideas to emerge. 


Exuding enthusiasm and energy in our work, ensuring all people feel welcome. 


Persisting in our quest for improvement and securing trust. 

Proactive Communication: 

Listening actively; being open, honest, timely, and consistent in our communication.  


Committing to an open, honest, candid environment for our employees, donors, and guests with trust at the core of the culture. 


Meeting our responsibilities of accountability regarding the mission, collections, financial resources, donors, staff, and the public trust. 

Download Full Strategic Plan 2016