The Thaw Collection of American Indian Art

In 1995, the Fenimore Art Museum embarked upon a new era with the addition of a spectacular new American Indian Wing designed to house the extraordinary gift from Eugene and Clare Thaw of their collection of American Indian art…
Read more and see the entire collection

American Folk Art

Folk artists express through their art the ordinary and extraordinary events that have shaped their lives and communities. Through the process of creating, folk artists make a permanent record of their cultural ideals, experiences, and community heritage. Today, these artworks serve as documents of American culture and the lives of the artists.  See entire collection

American Fine Art

The fine art collection was largely assembled by connoisseur Stephen C. Clark one of the Museum’s greatest patrons. The collection contains some of the best examples of American landscape, history, and genre painting.  See entire collection


The photography collections of the Fenimore Art Museum, numbering more than 100,000 images, are among its most important holdings. These collections represent the history and technology of photography and provide a rich visual documentation of times past.   Find more information on our photography collections…

The Coopers of Cooperstown

The Cooper name has been tied to the Otsego Lake region for more than ten generations. It is here that a special bond united a family with the land, prompting a vision that inspired a great American literary tradition and fostered the growth of a small village and its surrounding environs. This collection shares some of James Fenimore Cooper’s personal effects and best-loved possessions.  Search here to see objects from the Cooper collection



The Research Library supplements the diverse and world renowned collections at Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers’ Museum. Our broad focus includes New York State with an emphasis on Otsego and nearby counties, American, and Native American history, art, and material culture. The Library’s Special Collections include rare books, manuscripts and archival collections, trade catalogs, pamphlets, broadsides, and ephemera.


The library is closed to the public due to construction. Research may still be conducted over the phone or via email.

Phone: 607.547.1470 | Email:


Pathfinder | Catalog of bibliographic records for printed collections, manuscripts, and archives held by the Research Library

New York Heritage | Shared digital repository of primary source material; Library holdings are found under Fenimore Art Museum

New York State Historic Newspapers | Free online access to digitized newspapers across New York State, including The Freeman’s Journal and other Otsego County titles

Policies and Useful Forms:
Remote Research Services & Fees
Personal Photography Form
Collection Management Policy
Rights & Permission for Photographs



Do You Think You Have Something For Us? How to Donate an Object to the Museum:
The Fenimore enriches community life through education and preservation. We are dedicated to linking the past to the future by preserving, clarifying and disseminating information about history specific to the Central New York region and by encouraging participation in the arts and humanities through our public programs…

We have great interest in acquiring objects that will help us promote our mission. If you have an item that you believe would enhance the collections, and you would like to donate it to the museum, please take the time to read this guide. Understanding our acquisition policies and following our guidelines for proposed donations will help make the donation process as smooth as possible for everyone involved. Thank you for your time and attention.

View our Collection Management Policy

Tell Us About It Before You Bring It In To Us
To help us better assess your proposed donation and how it can contribute to our mission, we ask you to please tell us about it in an email. (Photographs of the object(s) are also appreciated.) Please wait until you hear from us before you bring the item to the museum. The more accurate information you can give us about an item you wish to donate, the better we’ll be able to understand its significance and interpret it for the education of the public.

Please Understand That We Can’t Accept Everything
The museum’s collections deserve the best care we can give them, and yet our resources are limited. We must beware of accepting more objects than we can properly care for. Therefore, we will be most likely to accept your donation for the collection if:
– it has a clear connection to the museum’s mission;
– it doesn’t duplicate objects already in the collection; and
– it is sufficiently well documented that we can interpret it usefully for the public.

Furthermore, not everything we do accept will necessarily go on permanent exhibit. Our collections include items used for research and for public education programs, as well as those displayed in the galleries. All of these uses help promote our mission of preservation and education. Finally, all artifact donations must be approved by the Collections Committee of the museum’s Board of Trustees.

Have It Appraised If You Want A Tax Deduction
Your artifact donation may be tax-deductible. However, to ensure the appropriate value of your deduction, the piece must be properly appraised. We cannot appraise proposed donations for you. We are not qualified appraisers, and even if we were it would be a conflict of interest for us (as a possible recipient) to appraise your potential donation. You can obtain references to qualified appraisers through the International Society of Appraisers.

We greatly appreciate your interest in our museum and your desire to help build our collections.

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