The Rochester Historical Society owns close to 500 paintings, in addition to hundreds of pencil sketches, engravings, lithographs and other works of art. The focus of the collection is on 19th century works, including those depicting local landscapes, landmarks, and portraits of prominent Rochesterians.
Other highlights of the collection include a series of woodcuts and linocuts of early Rochester scenes by local artist Norman Kent, and watercolors of local artist Ralph Avery.
Taken as a whole, the collection is a rich resource for the study of our early social history, our changing visual landscape, and the development of our natural and built environments from Rochester’s earliest days until well into the twentieth century. Pieces from our collection are often borrowed for area exhibits at places such as the University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery and the Genesee Country Village & Museum.
We are also home to thousands of objects related to our shared past. While many items in our collection were donated by individuals and families, our artifacts have also come to us from Rochester’s major businesses and industries, including Kodak, R.T. French’s, Sibley’s, McCurdy’s and B. Forman’s department stores, as well as a variety of clothing and button manufacturing establishments.
Other highlights include our Rochester Fire Department collection and our military collection of objects from Rochester soldiers in the Civil War and World Wars I & II.