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The Potsdam Public Museum is a non-profit educational institution. As such, it strives to collect, preserve, study and exhibit artifacts and materials relating to the history of Potsdam, NY, and the surrounding area. The Museum, founded in 1940, is a department of the Village of Potsdam, with policy governed by an independent board of trustees. Its extensive collections span the history of the Village and include 18th-20th Century decorative arts collected by area residents.

The building housing the museum was built in 1876 as the First Universalist Church. In the early 1930s, the congregation donated the building to the village to be used as a public library, and it served as the library from 1940 until 1976. At that time, the museum was moved from its original location in the basement of the Civic Center. Today it houses the exhibit galleries, archives, educational facilities, work rooms and storage areas of the Museum. Since 1933, the building has been part of the Civic Center, together with an auditorium (now the library) and the municipal offices which were built, using Potsdam sandstone, as a voter-approved bond project.