Civic Center, 2 Park Street
Potsdam, NY 13676
(315) 265-6910

Welcome to Potsdam Public Museum, Potsdam, N.Y.


Monday, Jun. 1st, 2015

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In 1866, the New York State Legislature established new “Normal Schools”, and Potsdam was chosen to be one of the first four locations for these schools because of its history of academic excellence.  A Normal School was a school created to train high school graduates to be teachers.  Its purpose was to establish teaching standards, or norms, hence the name.  Originally, the normal school curriculum lasted three years, and later they became known as teachers colleges.

By 1886, the Potsdam Normal School became the first institution to offer a normal teaching course for public school music teachers in the United States.  Founded by Julia E. Crane, the Crane Normal Institute of Music continues to this day as the famous Crane School of Music, a national leader in the field of music and music education.

SUNY Potsdam was known by many different names over the years.  After becoming the Potsdam Normal School in 1867 (PNS), it became known as the “Potsdam State Teachers College” (PSTC) in 1942, the State University Teachers College at Potsdam (SUTCP) in 1948, the State University College of Education at Potsdam (SUCEP) in 1959, and the State University College at Potsdam (SUCP) in 1961.

The name “SUNY Potsdam” in use today reflects all of the many diverse curricula now offered by the University, not just in music and teacher education. 

The SUNY Potsdam postcards in this new exhibit date from 1905 to recent times.


late Sheraton style sideboard and matching mirror  Reverend Gurley was president Lincoln's spiritual advisor

The portraits from the Potsdam Museum Collection featured in this exhibition date from c. 1780 (the silhouettes of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Raymond) through c. 1960 (the photographic portrait of the Peck family children), though most are from the 1880s-1920s. In many cases, we have contextual information about the lives of the individuals depicted in these portraits. Sometimes we have portraits of multiple members of a single family, from which we can trace a set of relationships. In other cases, the portrait itself is the sole source of information about the subject.

All Portraits serve to make the sitter, however distant in time, present before us: the gaze of the subject, which once met that of the painter or photographer, meets our own and invites us to recognize the person before us and to imagine his or her personality and life.

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