The Staten Island Museum's permanent collections contain natural science specimens, archival records, and works of art and design, which represent Staten Island's natural and cultural history across time. The Natural Science collections represent an irreplaceable record of what animal and plant species have existed on Staten Island, both historically and currently. The Art collections contain fine art, design, and material culture spanning antiquity through the 21st century. The History collections contain artifacts and documents that relate to the tribes, individuals, and organizations that have shaped Staten Island.
The Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences had, over the years, received many single gifts of Curtis materials. They are governed by 48 accession numbers and were the gifts of 22 individuals and institutions. Many of these items existed in the collections of the Institute at the time that Mabel Abbott was Curator of History and Literature. It was her initiative which brought all the items together under the label of the George William Curtis Collection, resulting in an exhibition and subsequent gifts of letters, scrapbooks, paintings, and memorabilia. A major part of the most recent gifts were given by descendants and relatives of George William Curtis: Bridgham, Constance, and George William Curtis; Marian Holyoke; Mrs. William Tidball. The Institute, at the request of Miss Abbott, made a few purchases to augment the collection. These purchases were made through the Crooke Fund or through the Museum Purchase Fund. The period of time covered is from 1918 through 1967, with the greatest activity being between the years of 1949 and 1954.