The New York Military Museum's collection includes the New York State Battle Flag Collection, a group of over 2,200 military flags dating from the War of 1812 to the present. They are an important resource in the study of military history and also are a tangible reminder of the courage and patriotism of those New Yorkers who served their state and country.

Many of these battle flags have survived for over 140 years, despite poor storage conditions in cases on the first floor of the New York State Capitol where the uncontrolled environment of the crowded cases caused the flags to become soiled from a century of exposure to dirt in the Capitol and surrounding urban environment. In addition, excessive light exposure for over 100 years caused fibers to deteriorate and gravity stressed the rolled, vertical flags. The cotton and wool flags are in better condition than silk flags, as silk fabric is finer and more susceptible to damage.

A conservation survey conducted in 1997 recommended a program of care for the flags to insure their long-term preservation. Beginning in 2000, conservators from New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, assisted by a curator from the New York State Military Museum, have:

  • Inventoried all of the flags to learn their type and dimensions
  • Wrapped the flags in the Capitol in acid-free tissue to protect them from further light and dust damage
  • Worked with specialist vendors to design archival flag support panels and storage racks
  • Conserved over 500 flags
  • Displayed over 250 flags in interpretive exhibitions at the Capitol and the Military Museum

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