The Cayuga Museum collects materials that document the lives of people living in the region from the earliest Native cultures to our neighbors today. Our collecting mission is focused on Auburn, Cayuga County, and the Finger Lakes Region of New York.

In addition to general collections, the Cayuga Museum also has a special initiative for the collection of artifacts related to the Auburn Prison. Auburn is home to the oldest continually operating prison in the United States, now called Auburn Correctional Facility. It is the first prison to use the electric chair and the namesake of the Auburn System, the model for all American prisons.

The Cayuga Museum is also home to the Case Research Lab collection. This collection preserves the development of the first commercially successful system of sound film.

Please note that only a small percentage of the Museum’s collections can be displayed at any given time.

Our collection holdings include:

  • Agricultural implements that were produced in Cayuga County
  • Art
  • Clothing and Accessories
  • Military- Uniforms, Weapons, Medals
  • Medicine- 19th century
  • Photography & Glass Plate Photography
  • Industry and Manufacturing in Cayuga County
  • Maps
  • Textiles
  • Archival holdings: letters, diaries, scrapbooks, business records
  • Native American
  • Toys

Collections Research Policies

The Cayuga Museum collection and archives are open for use by appointment only to scholars, students and researchers. All collections objects, including books and photographs, must be examined in the collections viewing area and cannot be loaned out without written approval from the Cayuga Museum staff and administration. All collections objects are kept in a secure area and collections patrons need to ask for a specific item that is then brought out to them in the viewing room. Materials are available for use at the discretion of Museum staff and may be restricted because of fragility or poor condition.

Making an Appointment

Due to limited facilities and occasional high demand, it is important for all patrons to contact the Museum ahead of time and make an appointment.