Rather than focusing on one angle of its state's history, the New Jersey State Museum encompasses four: archaeology, fine arts, culture, and natural history. Since 1895, the American Association of Museums–accredited complex’s staff has been dedicated to expanding field research and, more recently, public-school outreach. These efforts have culminated in collections of more than 2 million archeological specimens, 2,000 ethnographic artifacts, 12,000 works of art, and 13,000 state cultural artifacts. These pieces pique viewer curiosity in themed exhibits, exploring periods in local art, relationships between native Americans and European settlers, and the state flower’s childhood diaries.
The archaeology collections—assembled by museum staffers and university archaeologists—highlight textiles, beads, and hide works from Delaware Indians and other North American–natives. The fine art collection assembles works by American modernists and abstract artists. Massive Trenton-made furnishings, Civil War–flags, and maritime artifacts populate the cultural exhibits.
Though focused on history and art, the museum also immerses visitors in science with its 150-seat planetarium, which dazzles eyes with images of the solar system, faraway stars, and astronaut training during shows. Audiences witness traditional sky projections and laser-created programs comprised of 6,000 stars on the ceiling of the full 360-degree dome.