Students who grew up with access to New York City might find themselves missing the area’s cultural institutions — including several world-famous museums — upon moving upstate. Luckily, while Binghamton may be better known by students for its bars and restaurants, it is also home to museums offering everything from science and technology to art and fashion. If you’re a city slicker pining for New York’s Museum of Modern Art or the Metropolitan Museum of Art, look at our guide to get your fix here in the Triple Cities and surrounding areas.
If you like the Hall of Science, try the Roberson Museum and Science Center (30 Front St., Binghamton, NY 13905):
The Roberson Museum and Science Center, located on 30 Front St., is a great location to partake in community events, exhibitions and programs about art, history or science. Hosting events such as Rocks and Fossils Day in August and its annual RoberCon in September, the Roberson Museum encourages people of all ages to learn about the arts and sciences and share their interests with others. The museum is dedicated to providing educational experiences to a wide range of learners through hands-on programs, striking a similar vibe to the New York Hall of Science in Flushing, New York. The museum has everything from summer camps to adult drawing classes to Girl Scout programs and aims to involve a variety of groups within the Binghamton community. Museum members, children ages 4 and under and those in the military are all granted free admission, while students pay $6 for entrance. The Roberson Museum also has an option to “pay it forward,” giving someone who cannot afford the admission fee the chance to still enjoy all that the museum has to offer.
If you like the Met, try the Binghamton University Art Museum (4400 Vestal Parkway East, Binghamton, NY 13902):
Located on campus and tucked away in the Fine Arts Building, the Binghamton University Art Museum is one of the University’s hidden treasures that most students do not take advantage of. Described on BU’s website as a “dynamic public space where staff and faculty engage students and the wider public,” the BU Art Museum has a collection spanning 5,000 years and originating from around the globe. The permanent collection, displayed throughout the Kenneth C. Lindsay Study Room, boasts more than 4,000 objects including paintings, sculptures, decorative arts and works on paper. The extensive history and culture the collection covers may remind one of a trip to the Met. Exhibitions are rotated regularly, allowing for a constant flow of new art and perspective from students, faculty and staff. A tablet tour specially designed for the BU Art Museum allows visitors to read labels written by students from different disciplines to get a well-rounded perspective of the art on display. Admission is free, making it an enriching and affordable experience for the Binghamton community.
If you like the Steinway Mansion, try the Phelps Mansion Museum (191 Court St., Binghamton, NY 13901):
A Victorian-style home once surrounded by similar residences, the Phelps Mansion Museum is a physical preservation of Binghamton’s local history and culture. The mansion was built in 1871 by Issac G. Perry, one of New York state’s most well-known 19th-century architects. It once housed successful banker and former Binghamton mayor Sherman D. Phelps, along with his family. Upon entering the facility, one can observe the luxurious marble floors, carved woodwork, period lighting fixtures, furniture and artwork. Through its unchanging nature, the Phelps Mansion Museum serves as a reminder of Binghamton’s past and tells the story of a powerful family, like the Steinways in their Queens mansion.
If you like the American Museum of Natural History, try the Museum of the Earth (1259 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca, NY 14850):
Students and adults alike have the opportunity to explore the Earth and its archaeological past at the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, just an hour drive from Binghamton. Visitors can dig up and take home their own fossils in the Fossil Lab, or watch paleontologists uncover bones in the Prep Lab. On display are the Hyde Park Mastodon and the 44-foot Right Whale, skeletons so large that you’ll feel like you’re in “Night at the Museum” at the American Museum of Natural History.
If you like local art, try the Bundy Museum of History and Art (129 Main St., Binghamton, NY 13905):
New York City is home to countless festivals that bring communities of art lovers together. Binghamton’s Bundy Museum of History and Art hosts comparable rotating exhibitions and programs celebrating local artists year-round. The museum aims to foster support for Binghamton’s unique culture and artistic community, making it a perfect place for people who like variety. From art shows of local painters to fashion portfolios of clothing designers, the Bundy has an exhibit for everyone. Through initiatives like film screenings, open mics and workshops, the museum involves the public in its open discourse on the arts.