About The New York Microscopical Society

The microscope was invented around 1600. Its perfection progressed rather slowly until about 1830 when fresh ideas about lens design were applied to microscopes. In the next 50 years the microscope’s ability to show fine detail was improved at least five fold, which caused much excitement. During this era, the New York Microscopical Society (NYMS) was founded in 1877, at and by leaders of the American Museum of Natural History.

From the beginning the members were a friendly mix of scientists and amateurs. The common purpose of both was the promotion of all phases of microscopy, theoretical and practical, for professional reasons or for pleasure.

2006 Ernst Abbe Award Recipient Dr. John C. Russ

Many things have changed since then but the goals are still the same. The Society offers courses in general and in polarized light microscopy. We invite a specialist speaker once monthly September – May, we offer technical courses and workshops, and we arrange field trips from time to time. We also offer microscopy workshops for children and families, often  at schools and parks.  At irregular intervals NYMS honors the lifetime achievement of persons who have demonstrated extraordinary merit as microscopists, physicists or teachers with our Ernst Abbe Award.

For about six decades the meeting place of the Society was our suite in the American Museum of Natural History. In the 1990s  the Museum reclaimed our space for its own needs, forcing the Microscopical and  other scientific societies  to look for new quarters.  After two interim domiciles NYMS  purchased a suitable  building  in Clifton, NJ.  While the headquarters of the New York Microscopical Society paradoxically are in New Jersey, our location is easily reached by public transportation from New York, and New Yorkers comprise a substantial portion of our membership.



One Prospect Village Plaza is a very good, internet-enabled facility for conducting courses, workshops, meetings and investigation. During over 100 years  the Society has accumulated a trove of prized possessions, so we curate many  exemplary and functional 19c and 20c instruments, components and accessories, a large collection of historic and modern prepared microscope slides, and a great variety of unmounted specimens. Our walls are lined with an outstanding and catalogued microscopy library,  about 30 19-20c antique brass microscopes on permanent display,  instrumental workstations for teaching and investigative work, and a fully equipped mechanical workshop. Everything is accessible for Members’ use by appointment with a member of our Board of Managers.

We encourage anyone with an interest in microscopy to join NYMS!

Street address:

One Prospect Village Plaza
Clifton, NJ 07013
973-470-8733 (phone & fax)

Enquiry? Please contact:

Mel Pollinger or John Scott via email or phone shown in our Board of Managers page

About NYMS (PDF format)

Application for Membership (PDF format)

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