American Museum of Natural History facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
American Museum of Natural History
Looking at the east entrance from Central Park West
Established 1869; 150 years ago (1869)
Location Central Park West at 79th Street, New York City, U.S. 10024
Type Natural history
Visitor figures About 5,000,000 annually
Director Ellen V. Futter
Public transit access New York City Bus:
M7, M10, M11, M79
New York City Subway:
81st Street – Museum of Natural History (Template:NYCS Eighth center local day trains)
Website

AMNH.org

Built 1874; 145 years ago (1874)

The American Museum of Natural History (abbreviated as AMNH), located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City, is one of the largest museums in the world. Located in Theodore Roosevelt Park across the street from Central Park, the museum complex comprises 28 interconnected buildings housing 45 permanent exhibition halls, in addition to a planetarium and a library. The museum collections contain over 33 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, human remains, and human cultural artifacts, of which only a small fraction can be displayed at any given time, and occupies more than 2,000,000 square feet (190,000 m2). The museum has a full-time scientific staff of 225, sponsors over 120 special field expeditions each year, and averages about five million visits annually.

The one mission statement of the American Museum of Natural History is: "To discover, interpret, and disseminate—through scientific research and education—knowledge about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe."

History

The American Museum journal (c1900-(1918)) (17973760300)
Drawing of the AMNH south façade

Founding

Before construction of the present complex, the museum was housed in the Arsenal building in Central Park.

The founding of the museum realized the dream of naturalist Dr. Albert S. Bickmore. Bickmore, a one-time student of Harvard zoologist Louis Agassiz, lobbied tirelessly for years for the establishment of a natural history museum in New York.

Construction

In 1874, the cornerstone was laid for the museum's first building, which is now hidden from view by the many buildings in the complex that today occupy most of Manhattan Square. The original Victorian Gothic building, which was opened in 1877, was designed by J. Wrey Mould, both already closely identified with the architecture of Central Park.

Expansion

The original building was soon eclipsed by the south range of the museum, designed by J. Cleaveland Cady, an exercise in rusticated brownstone neo-Romanesque, influenced by H. H. Richardson. It extends 700 feet (210 m) along West 77th Street, with corner towers 150 feet (46 m) tall. Its pink brownstone and granite, similar to that found at Grindstone Island in the St. Lawrence River, came from quarries at Picton Island, New York.

The entrance on Central Park West, the New York State Memorial to Theodore Roosevelt, completed by John Russell Pope in 1936, is an overscaled Beaux-Arts monument. It leads to a vast Roman basilica, where visitors are greeted with a cast of a skeleton of a rearing Barosaurus defending her young from an Allosaurus. The museum is also accessible through its 77th street foyer, renamed the "Grand Gallery" and featuring a fully suspended Haida canoe. The hall leads into the oldest extant exhibit in the museum, the hall of Northwest Coast Indians.

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Locations of exploring and field parties in 1913, American Museum of Natural History map
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The old 77th street "castle" entrance of the museum

Later additions and renovations

Since 1930, little has been added to the exterior of the original building. The architect Kevin Roche and his firm Roche-Dinkeloo have been responsible for the master planning of the museum since the 1990s. Various renovations both interior and exterior have been carried out including improvements to Dinosaur Hall and mural restoration in Roosevelt Memorial Hall. In 1992 the firm designed the new eight story AMNH Library.

Mammal halls

Old World mammals

Akeley Hall of African Mammals

Carl Akeley 37036r
The Akeley Hall of African Mammals is named after Carl Akeley.
Akeley Hall
Akeley Hall

Named after taxidermist Carl Akeley, the Akeley Hall of African Mammals is a two-story hall located directly behind the Theodore Roosevelt rotunda. Its 28 dioramas depict in meticulous detail the great range of ecosystems found in Africa and the mammals endemic to them. The centerpiece of the hall is a pack of eight African elephants in a characteristic 'alarmed' formation. Though the mammals are typically the main feature in the dioramas, birds and flora of the regions are occasionally featured as well. In the 80 years since Akeley Hall’s creation, many of the species within have become endangered, some critically, and the locations deforested. Despite this, none of the species are yet extinct, in part thanks to the work of Carl Akeley himself (see Virunga National Park). The hall connects to the Hall of African Peoples.

History

The Hall of African Mammals was first proposed to the museum by Carl Akeley around 1909. His original concept contained forty dioramas which would present the rapidly vanishing landscapes and animals of Africa. The intent was that a visitor of the hall, “may have the illusion, at worst, of passing a series of pictures of primeval Africa, and at best, may think for a moment that he has stepped five thousand miles (8,000 km) across the sea into Africa itself.” Akeley’s proposal was a hit with both the board of trustees and then museum president, Henry Fairfield Osborne. To fund its creation, Daniel Pomeroy, a trustee of the museum and partner at J.P. Morgan, offered interested investors the opportunity to accompany the museum’s expeditions in Africa in exchange for funding.

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Carl Akeley mounts specimens for the "Lions" diorama

Akeley began collecting specimens for the hall as early as 1909, famously encountering Theodore Roosevelt in the midst of the Smithsonian-Roosevelt African expedition (two of the elephants featured in the museum’s center piece were donated by Roosevelt, a cow, shot by Roosevelt himself, and a calf, shot by his son Kermit). On these early expeditions, Akeley would be accompanied by his former apprentice in taxidermy, James L. Clark, and artist, William R. Leigh.

When Akeley returned to Africa to collect gorillas for the hall’s first diorama, Clark remained behind and began scouring the country for artists to create the backgrounds. The eventual appearance of the first habitat groups would have a huge impact on the museum. Akeley and Clark’s skillful taxidermy paired with the backgrounds painted under Leigh’s direction created an illusion of life in these animals that made the museum’s other exhibits seem dull in comparison (the museum’s original style of exhibition can still be seen in the small area devoted to birds and animals of New York). Plans for other diorama halls quickly emerged and by 1929 Birds of the World, the Hall of North American Mammals, the Vernay Hall of Southeast Asian Mammals, and the Hall of Oceanic Life were all in stages of planning or construction.

Plains Diorama
the "Plains" diorama in Akeley Hall

After Akeley’s unexpected death during the Eastman-Pommeroy expedition in 1926, responsibility of the hall’s completion fell to James L. Clark. Despite being hampered by the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, Clark’s passion for Africa and his dedication to his former mentor kept the project alive. In 1933, Clark would hire architectural artist James Perry Wilson to assist Leigh in the painting of backgrounds. More technically minded than Leigh, Wilson would make many improvements on Leigh’s techniques, including a range of methods to minimize the distortion caused by the dioramas’ curved walls.

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Gorilla diorama in Akeley Hall of African Mammals

In 1936, William D. Campbell, a wealthy board member with a desire to see Africa, offered to fund several dioramas if allowed to obtain the specimens himself. Clark agreed to this arrangement and shortly after Campbell left to collect the okapi and black rhinoceros specimens accompanied by artist Robert Kane. Campbell would be involved, in one capacity or another, with several other subsequent expeditions. Despite setbacks including malaria, flooding, foreign government interference, and even a boat sinking, these expeditions would succeed in acquiring some of Akeley Hall’s most impressive specimens. Back in the museum, Kane would join Leigh and Wilson, along with a handful of other artists in completing the hall’s remaining dioramas. Though construction of the hall was completed in 1936, the dioramas would gradually open between the mid-1920s and early 1940s.

Hall of Asian Mammals

Vernay-Faunthorpe Hall
Vernay-Faunthorpe Hall of Asian Mammals

The Hall of Asian Mammals, sometimes referred to as the Vernay-Faunthorpe Hall of Asian Mammals, is a one story hall located directly to the left of the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda. It contains 8 complete dioramas, 4 partial dioramas, and 6 habitat groups of mammals and locations from India, Nepal, Burma, and Malaysia. The hall opened in 1930 and, similar to Akeley Hall, is centered around 2 Asian elephants. At one point, a giant panda and Siberian tiger were also part of the Hall's collection, originally intended to be part of an adjoining Hall of North Asian Mammals (planned in the current location of Stout Hall of Asian Peoples). These specimens can currently be seen in the Hall of Biodiversity.

New World mammals

Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals

Alaska Moose at the American Museum of Natural History
Alaska moose diorama in the Hall of North American Mammals

The Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals features 43 dioramas of various mammals of the American continent, north of tropical Mexico. Each diorama places focus on a particular species, ranging from the largest megafauna to the smaller rodents and carnivorans. Notable dioramas include the Alaskan brown bears, a pair of wolves, a Sonoran jaguar, and dueling bull Alaska moose.

Birds, reptiles, and amphibian halls

Sanford Hall of North American Birds

Cuthbert Rookery Diorama
The Cuthbert Rookery Diorama contains many of the birds once endangered by plume hunting

The Sanford Hall of North American birds is a one story hall located on the third floor of the museum, above the Hall of African Peoples and between the Hall of Primates and Akeley Hall’s second level. Its 25 dioramas depict birds from across North America in their native habitats. Opening in 1909, the dioramas in Sanford Hall were the first to be exhibited in the museum and are, at present, the oldest still on display. At the far end of the hall are two large murals by renowned ornithologist and artist, Louis Agassiz Fuertes. In addition to the species listed below, the hall also has display cases devoted to large collections of warblers, owls, and raptors.

Hall of Birds of the World

The global diversity of bird species is exhibited in this hall. 12 dioramas showcase various ecosystems around the world and provide a sample of the varieties of birds that live there. Example dioramas include South Georgia featuring king penguins and skuas, the East African plains featuring secretarybirds and bustards, and the Australian outback featuring honeyeaters, cockatoos, and kookaburras.

Whitney Memorial Hall of Oceanic Birds

This particular hall has undergone a complicated history over the years since its founding in 1953. Frank Chapman and Leonard C. Sanford, originally museum volunteers, had gone forward with creation of a hall to feature birds of the Pacific islands. In the years up to its founding, the museum had engaged in various expeditions to Fiji, New Zealand, and the Marianas (among other locations) to collect birds for the exhibit. The hall was designed as a completely immersive collection of dioramas, including a circular display featuring birds-of-paradise. In 1998, The Butterfly Conservatory was installed inside the hall originally as a temporary exhibit, but as the popular demand of the exhibit increased, the Hall of Oceanic Birds has more or less remained closed by the museum.

Hall of Reptiles and Amphibians

The Hall of Reptiles and Amphibians serves as an introduction to herpetology, with many exhibits detailing reptile evolution, anatomy, diversity, reproduction, and behavior. Notable exhibits include a komodo dragon group, an American alligator, Lonesome George, the last Pinta island tortise, and poison dart frogs.

Biodiversity and environmental halls

Hall of North American Forests

Mixed Deciduous Forest, Hall of North American Forests, AMNH
The Mixed Deciduous Forest diorama

The Hall of North American Forests is a one story hall located on the museum’s ground floor in between the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall and the Warburg Hall of New York State Environments. It contains ten dioramas depicting a range of forest types from across North America as well as several displays on forest conservation and tree health. Constructed under the guidance of noted botanist Henry K. Svenson (who also oversaw Warburg Hall’s creation) and opened in 1959, each diorama specifically lists both the location and exact time of year depicted. Trees and plants featured in the dioramas are constructed of a combination of art supplies and actual bark and other specimens collected in the field. The entrance to the hall features a cross section from a 1,400-year-old sequoia taken from the King's River grove on the west flank of the Sierra Mountains in 1891.

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The Juniper Forest diorama

Warburg Hall of New York State Environments

Warburg Hall of New York State Environments
"Spring" display in Warburg Hall

Warburg Hall of New York State Environments is a one story hall located on the museum’s ground floor in between the Hall of North American Forests and the Grand Hall. Based on the town of Pine Plains and near-by Stissing Mountain in Dutchess County, the hall gives a multi-faceted presentation of the eco-systems typical of New York. Aspects covered include soil types, seasonal changes, and the impact of both humans and nonhuman animals on the environment. It is named for the German-American philanthropist, Felix M. Warburg. Originally known as the "Hall of Man and Nature", Warburg Hall opened in 1951. It has changed little since and is now frequently regarded for its retro-modern styling. The hall shares many of the exhibit types featured throughout the museum as well as one display type, unique to Warburg, which features a recessed miniature diorama behind a foreground of species and specimens from the environment depicted.

Milstein Hall of Ocean Life

The American Museum of Natural History - an introduction (1972) (18159056292)
A page about the blue whale being built (top)
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Model of a blue whale in the Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life

The Milstein Hall of Ocean Life focuses on marine biology, botany and marine conservation. The hall is most famous for its 94-foot (29 m)-long blue whale model, suspended from the ceiling behind its dorsal fin. The hall's classic lines and visually arresting elegance host cutting-edge exhibition technology and the latest scientific research on the ocean. The 29,000-square-foot (2,700 m²) Hall has been transformed into a fully immersive marine environment with high-definition video projections, interactive computer stations, hands-on models, 14 renovated classic dioramas, and eight new ocean ecosystem displays that transport visitors from the rainbow-hued profusion of life in the Indo-Pacific coral reefs to the flickering bioluminescence of fishes in the eerie darkness of the deep sea. The exhibit was first created by the AMNH Exhibitions Lab in 1933, was renovated in 1969 and once again in 2003 through funding provided by Paul and Irma Milstein.

The upper level of the hall exhibits the vast array of ecosystems present in the ocean. Dioramas compare and contrast the life in these different settings including polar seas, kelp forests, mangroves, coral reefs and the bathypelagic. It attempts to show how vast and varied the oceans are while encouraging common themes throughout. The lower, and arguably more famous, half of the hall consists of several large dioramas of larger marine organisms. It is on this level that the famous "Squid and the Whale" diorama sits, depicting a hypothetical fight between the two creatures. Other notable exhibits in this hall include the Andros Coral Reef Diorama, which is the only two-level diorama in the Western Hemisphere. One of the most famous icons of the museum is a life-sized fiberglass model of a ninety-four foot (29 m) long Atlantic blue whale. The whale was redesigned dramatically in the 2003 renovation: its flukes and fins were readjusted, a navel was added, and it was repainted from a dull gray to various rich shades of blue.

Human origins and cultural halls

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Cultural halls

Stout Hall of Asian Peoples

The Stout Hall of Asian Peoples is a one story hall located on the museum’s second floor in between the Hall of Asian Mammals and Birds of the World. It is named for Gardner D. Stout, a former president of the museum, and was primarily organized by Dr. Walter A. Fairservis, a longtime museum archaeologist. Opened in 1980, Stout Hall is the museum’s largest anthropological hall and contains artifacts acquired by the museum between 1869 and the mid-1970s. Many famous expeditions sponsored by the museum are associated with the artifacts in the hall, including the Roy Chapman Andrews expeditions in Central Asia and the Vernay-Hopwood Chindwin expedition.

Stout Hall has two sections: Ancient Eurasia, a small section devoted to the evolution of human civilization in Eurasia, and Traditional Asia, a much larger section containing cultural artifacts from across the Asian continent. The latter section is organized to geographically correspond with two major trade routes of the Silk Road. Like many of the museum’s exhibition halls, the artifacts in Stout Hall are presented in a variety of ways including exhibits, miniature dioramas, and 5 full scale dioramas. Notable exhibits in the Ancient Eurasian section include reproductions from the famed archaeological sites of Teshik-Tash and Çatalhöyük, as well as a full size replica of a Hammurabi Stele. The Traditional Asia section contains areas devoted to major Asian countries, such as Japan, China, Tibet, and India, while also including a vast array of smaller Asian tribes including the Ainu, Semai, and Yakut.

Hall of African Peoples

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Diorama depicting Pokot methods of animal husbandry

The Hall of African Peoples is located behind Akeley Hall of African Mammals and underneath Sanford Hall of North American Birds. It is organized by the four major ecosystems found in Africa: River Valley, Grasslands, Forest-Woodland, and Desert. Each section presents artifacts and exhibits of the peoples native to the ecosystems throughout Africa. The hall contains three dioramas and notable exhibits include a large collection of spiritual costumes on display in the Forest-Woodland section. Uniting the sections of the hall is a multi-faceted comparison of African societies based on hunting and gathering, cultivation, and animal domestication. Each type of society is presented in a historical, political, spiritual, and ecological context. A small section of African diaspora spread by the slave trade is also included. Below is a brief list of some of the tribes and civilizations featured:

DanceCostumes AMNH
Spiritual costumes from a variety of African tribes

River Valley: Ancient Egyptians, Nubians, Kuba, Lozi

Grasslands: Pokot, Shilluk, Barawa

Forest-Woodland: Yoruba, Kofyar, Mbuti

Desert: Ait Atta, Tuareg

Hall of Mexico and Central America

Zapotec Burial Urns
Zapotec burial urns from Monte Albán

The Hall of Mexico and Central America is a one story hall located on the museum’s second floor behind Birds of the World and before the Hall of South American Peoples. It presents archaeological artifacts from a broad range of pre-Columbian civilizations that once existed across Middle America, including the Maya, Olmec, Zapotec, and Aztec. Because most of these civilizations did not leave behind recorded writing or have any contact with Western civilization, the overarching aim of the hall is to piece together what it is possible to know about them from the artifacts alone.

The museum has displayed pre-Columbian artifacts since its opening, only a short time after the discovery of the civilizations by archaeologists, with its first hall dedicated to the subject opening in 1899. As the museum’s collection grew, the hall underwent major renovations in 1944 and again in 1970 when it re-opened in its current form. Notable artifacts on display include the Kunz Axe and a full-scale replica of Tomb 104 from the Monte Albán archaeological site, originally displayed at the 1939 World’s Fair.

Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples

Margaret Mead (1901-1978)
The cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead was associated with the Museum for many years.
History

The hall opened in 1971, named the Hall of Pacific Peoples, and reopened as the Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples in 1984.

Indians halls

Hall of Northwest Coast Indians
Kwakwaka’wakw House Post
Kwakwaka'wakw House Posts

The Hall of Northwest Coast Indians is a one story hall located on the museum's ground floor behind the Grand Gallery and in between Warburg and Spitzer Halls. Opened in 1900 under the name "Jesup North Pacific Hall", it is currently the oldest exhibition hall in the museum, though it has undergone many renovations in its history.The hall contains artifacts and exhibits of the tribes of the North Pacific Coast cultural region (Southern Alaska, Northern Washington, and a portion of British Columbia). Featured prominently in the hall are four "House Posts" from the Kwakwaka'wakw nation and murals by William S. Taylor depicting native life.

History

Artifacts in the hall originated from three main sources. The earliest of these was a gift of Haida artifacts (including the now famous Haida canoe of the Grand Gallery) collected by John Wesley Powell and donated by Herbert Bishop in 1882. This was followed by the museum’s purchase of two collections of Tlingit artifacts collected by Lt. George T. Emmons in 1888 and 1894.

Nuxalk Masks
Nuxalk Masks

The remainder of the hall’s artifacts were collected during the famed Jesup North Pacific Expedition between 1897 and 1902. Led by influential anthropologist Franz Boas and financed by museum president Morris Ketchum Jesup, the expedition was the first for the museum’s Division of Anthropology and is now considered the, “foremost expedition in American anthropology”. Many famous ethnologists took part, including George Hunt, who secured the Kwakwaka’wakw House Posts that currently stand in the hall.

Other tribes featured in the hall include: Coastal Salish, Nuu-chah-nulth (listed as Nootka), Tsimshian, and Nuxalk (listed as Bella Coola)

Hall of Plains Indians

The primary focus of this hall is the North American Great Plains peoples as they were at the middle of the 19th Century, including depictions of Blackfeet (see also: Blackfoot Confederacy), Hidatsa, and Dakota cultures. Of particular interest is a Folsom point discovered in 1926 New Mexico, providing valuable evidence of early American colonization of the Americas.

Hall of Eastern Woodlands Indians

This hall details the lives and technology of traditional Native American peoples in the woodland environments of eastern North America. Particular cultures exhibited include Cree, Mohegan, Ojibwe, and Iroquois.

Human origins halls

Bernard and Anne Spitzer Hall of Human Origins

The Bernard and Anne Spitzer Hall of Human Origins, formerly The Hall of Human Biology and Evolution, opened on February 10, 2007. Originally known under the name "Hall of the Age of Man", at the time of its original opening in 1921 it was the only major exhibition in the United States to present an in-depth investigation of human evolution. The displays traced the story of Homo sapiens, illuminated the path of human evolution and examined the origins of human creativity.

Many of the celebrated displays from the original hall can still be viewed in the present expanded format. These include life-size dioramas of our human predecessors Australopithecus afarensis, Homo ergaster, Neanderthal, and Cro-Magnon, showing each species demonstrating the behaviors and capabilities that scientists believe they were capable of. Also displayed are full-sized casts of important fossils, including the 3.2-million-year-old Lucy skeleton and the 1.7-million-year-old Turkana Boy, and Homo erectus specimens including a cast of Peking Man.

The hall also features replicas of ice age art found in the Dordogne region of southwestern France. The limestone carvings of horses were made nearly 26,000 years ago and are considered to represent some of the earliest artistic expression of humans.

Earth and planetary science halls

Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites

Ahnighito AMNH, 34 tons meteorite
Cape York Meteorite
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Willamette Meteorite

The Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites contains some of the finest specimens in the world including Ahnighito, a section of the 200 ton Cape York meteorite which was found at the location of the same name in Greenland. The meteorite's great weight—at 34 tons, it is the largest meteorite on display at any museum in the world—requires support by columns that extend through the floor and into the bedrock below the museum.

The hall also contains extra-solar nanodiamonds (diamonds with dimensions on the nanometer level) more than 5 billion years old. These were extracted from a meteorite sample through chemical means, and they are so small that a quadrillion of these fit into a volume smaller than a cubic centimeter.

Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Gems and Minerals

The Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals houses hundreds of unusual geological specimens. It adjoins the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems showcasing many rare, and valuable gemstones. The exhibit was designed by the architectural firm of Wm. F. Pedersen and Assoc. with Fred Bookhardt in charge. Vincent Manson was the curator of the Mineralogy Department. The exhibit took six years to design and build, 1970–1976. The New York Times architectural critic, Paul Goldberger, said, "It is one of the finest museum installations that New York City or any city has seen in many years".

On display are many renowned samples that are chosen from among the museum's more than 100,000 pieces.

David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth

The David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth is a permanent hall devoted to the history of Earth, from accretion to the origin of life and contemporary human impacts on the planet. Several sections also discuss the studies of Earth systems, including geology, glaciology, atmospheric sciences, and volcanology.

The exhibit is famous for its large, touchable rock specimens. The hall features striking samples of banded iron and deformed conglomerate rocks, as well as granites, sandstones, lavas, and three black smokers.

The north section of the hall, which deals primarily with plate tectonics, is arranged to mimic the Earth's structure, with the core and mantle at the center and crustal features on the perimeter.

Fossil halls

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Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs.
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Skeleton of Styracosaurus.

Most of the museum's collections of mammalian and dinosaur fossils remain hidden from public view. They are kept in numerous storage areas located deep within the museum complex. Among these, the most significant storage facility is the ten story Childs Frick Building which stands within an inner courtyard of the museum.

The great fossil collections that are open to public view occupy the entire fourth floor of the museum as well as a separate exhibit that is on permanent display in the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall, the museum's main entrance. The fourth floor exhibits allow the visitor to trace the evolution of vertebrates by following a circuitous path that leads through several museum buildings. On the 77th street side of the museum the visitor begins in the Orientation Center and follows a carefully marked path, which takes the visitor along an evolutionary tree of life. As the tree "branches" the visitor is presented with the familial relationships among vertebrates. This evolutionary pathway is known as a cladogram.

Many of the fossils on display represent unique and historic pieces that were collected during the museum's golden era of worldwide expeditions (1880s to 1930s). On a smaller scale, expeditions continue into the present and have resulted in additions to the collections from Vietnam, Madagascar, South America, and central and eastern Africa.

The 4th floor includes the following halls:

  • Hall of Vertebrate Origins
  • Hall of Saurischian dinosaurs (recognized by their grasping hand, long mobile neck, and the downward/forward position of the pubis bone, they are forerunners of the modern bird)
  • Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs (defined for a pubic bone that points toward the back)
  • Hall of Primitive Mammals
  • Hall of Advanced Mammals

Fossils on display

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Anatotitan fossil skeletons.

The many outstanding fossils on display include, among others:

  • Tyrannosaurus rex: Composed almost entirely of real fossil bones, it is mounted in a horizontal stalking pose beautifully balanced on powerful legs. The specimen is actually composed of fossil bones from two T. rex skeletons discovered in Montana in 1902 and 1908 by famous dinosaur hunter Barnum Brown.
  • Mammuthus: Larger than its relative the woolly mammoth, these fossils are from an animal that lived 11,000 years ago in Indiana.
  • Apatosaurus or Brontosaurus: This giant specimen was discovered at the end of the 19th century. Although most of its fossil bones are original, the skull is not, since none was found on site. It was only many years later that the first Apatosaurus skull was discovered, and so a plaster cast of that skull was made and placed on the museum's mount. A Camarasaurus skull had been used mistakenly until a correct skull was found. It is not entirely certain whether this specimen is a Brontosaurus or an Apatosaurus, and therefore it is considered an "unidentified apatosaurine", as it could also potentially be an Amphicoelias or Atlantosaurus specimen.
  • Brontops: Extinct mammal distantly related to the horse and rhinoceros. It lived 35 million years ago in what is now South Dakota. It is noted for its magnificent and unusual pair of horns.
  • A skeleton of Edmontosaurus annectens, a large herbivorous ornithopod dinosaur. The specimen is an example of a "mummified" dinosaur fossil in which the soft tissue and skin impressions were imbedded in the surrounding rock. The specimen is mounted as it was found, lying on its side with its legs drawn up and head drawn backwards.
  • On September 26, 2007, an 80-million-year-old, 2-foot (61 cm) diameter fossil of an ammonite, which is composed entirely of the gemstone ammolite, made its debut at the museum. Neil Landman, curator of fossil invertebrates, explained that ammonites (shelled cephalopod mollusks in the subclass Ammonoidea) became extinct 66 million years ago, in the same extinction event that killed the dinosaurs. Korite International donated the fossil after its discovery in Alberta, Canada.
  • One skeleton of an Allosaurus scavenging from an Apatosaurus corpse.
  • The only known skull of Andrewsarchus mongoliensis.

A Triceratops and a Stegosaurus are also both on display, among many other specimens.

Rose Center for Earth and Space

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Rose Center for Earth and Space

The Hayden Planetarium, connected to the museum, is now part of the Rose Center for Earth and Space, housed in a glass cube containing the spherical Space Theater, designed by James Stewart Polshek. The Heilbrun Cosmic Pathway is one of the most popular exhibits in the Rose Center, which opened February 19, 2000.

The original Hayden Planetarium was founded in 1933 with a donation by philanthropist Charles Hayden. Opened in 1935, it was demolished and replaced in 2000 by the $210 million Frederick Phineas and Sandra Priest Rose Center for Earth and Space.

Tom Hanks provided the voice-over for the first planetarium show during the opening of the new Rose Center for Earth & Space in the Hayden Planetarium in 2000. Since then such celebrities as Whoopi Goldberg, Robert Redford, Harrison Ford and Maya Angelou have been featured.

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