Top Attractions

The Pember Library and Museum is a Natural for Visitors

If you are going to be spending some time in New York but have already seen all the usual tourist spots, worry not, dear reader.  Your wandering wordsmith has got something new for you. Specifically, the Pember Library and Museum might just tickle your tired-of-typical-tourist-traps fancy.


The Pember Library and Museum (located at 33 West Main Street) in Granville, New York. Officially opened in 1909 the Pember Museum allows visitors to briefly travel back through the mists of time to a collection that was covered and cobwebbed for nearly half a century.  Created by Franklin T. Pember it is a Victorian natural history museum.


For those readers who are still unfamiliar with Franklin T. Pember, don’t worry.  Be happy. Here is some additional info on the subject in question: Franklin T. Pember was born in 1841 in South Granville, New York. As a young boy, he became interested in natural specimens. He would collect bird eggs, bird nests, insects, minerals, mounted birds and mammals, minerals, plants rocks, and shells. His official collection was perhaps not started until he was 21 years old. He married Ellen Wood at the age of 27 in 1868.  Franklin, born to a prosperous farming family, actually made the bulk of his money through his New York City-based fur trading business the "Pember and Prouty, Commision Dealer of Furs and Skins".  

The Museum

The Pembers traveled the globe and continued to collect natural specimens. Reportedly, Pember actually did a lot of the taxidermy work himself. Critics say he was quite skilled at it. The Pembers put up the money to build the Granville library (in which the museum would eventually be established). The specimens were all gathered together there.  In 1909 the Pember Museum was officially opened to the public. The Pember Library is on the first floor of the marble building. The Pember Museum of Natural History is on the second floor.

The Collection

Today the famous collection of natural specimens is displayed much as it was back then in wood and glass cases. It is said by some sources to be a noteworthy example of the biodiversity of the local area over the past 100 years as well as a memorable example of various natural specimens from across the globe. All in all, the inventory amounts to nearly 10,000 objects covering a significant variety of natural history subjects. The natural specimens on display at the Pember Museum currently include anthropological and historical materials, fossils, invertebrate animals (insects, arachnids, and sea life), minerals, rocks, vertebrate (birds, mammals, and reptiles) and a herbarium (dried plant specimens). It is reputed to be the only institution of its kind in the area. The Pember Museum and neighboring Pember Preserve offer visitors day camps, environmental studies, field trips, hikes, lectures, tours, and outreach and numerous other special programs.  All interested parties are welcome to the museum's official website for additional information.

Hours of operation

The museum's general hours of operation are as follows:

Tuesday - Friday 1 pm to 5 pm

Saturday - 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Closed Sundays and Mondays

Closed holidays


Following the death of the Pembers--the couple died within weeks of each other--in 1924 the museum fell into disuse and neglect. It's funding soon became depleted. It was closed until 1973 when the Friends of the Museum revived the Pember. They cleaned and restored the collections as well as the entire building.

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