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The American Museum of Natural History Celebrates 150 Years

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) has announced a multi-year series of events, programs, exhibitions, and projects that will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Museum, culminating in the opening of its new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation.

Beginning this March with the new exhibition T. rex: The Ultimate Predator, the Museum will present anniversary programming and exhibitions inspired by its legacy of scientific exploration and science education, parts of its dual mission underpinned by more than a century of world-class research in disciplines spanning paleontology, genomics, and astrophysics. The first major exhibition of the anniversary focuses on the world-famous Tyrannosaurus rex, a species discovered on a Museum expedition in 1902, and reveals groundbreaking advances in the understanding of the biology of this extraordinary carnivore, with the public unveiling of a life-size T.rex model that is the most scientifically accurate to date.

Looking ahead to the Museum’s future, the 150th anniversary celebration also includes the modernization of iconic Museum galleries and exhibits, and the opening of the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, which will include major new exhibition galleries, an interactive theater, state-of-the-art classrooms, and a multi-level Collections Core that will reveal sections of the Museum’s working scientific collections. These forward-looking projects will ensure that the Museum can continue to nourish the curiosity of generations of New Yorkers and introduce millions of visitors from around the world to the wonders of our planet, the rich traditions of human cultures, and the mysteries of our universe. 

A new website, amnh.org/150, which launches today, will provide opportunities for people everywhere to join in the anniversary by submitting their stories, pictures, and memories of the Museum to be featured on the anniversary page and by participating in an online community celebrating the Museum’s history and civic role in New York City.

“Scientific knowledge has grown explosively since the Museum’s founding in 1869, as researchers have probed the DNA in our cells, visualized the outer limits of an expanding universe, and explored every frontier in between. Throughout history and especially today, natural history museums have been uniquely positioned as a critical lynchpin between science and society,” said Museum President Ellen V. Futter. “The Museum’s sesquicentennial anniversary will commemorate its 150 years of groundbreaking scientific discovery, presenting the wonders of the natural world and cultures of humanity, and extracting knowledge from our world-class collections. It offers an opportunity to celebrate our historic relationship with New York City—including generations of residents from the five boroughs and visitors from across the country and around the world—and the Museum’s ongoing evolution into an innovative leader in scientific research, education, and civic life with a unique role in illuminating the central place of science in society, especially in the 21st century.”

Initiatives for the Museum’s 150th anniversary include:

  • the opening on March 11 of T. rex: The Ultimate Predator—with a new look, based on the latest research, at the most famous of all dinosaur species 
     
  • an exhibition, opening later this year, about the Theodore Roosevelt equestrian statue at the Museum’s entrance on Central Park West, in which experts and visitors respond to the representation of Theodore Roosevelt in relation to the Native and African figures in the grouping; reflect on racism and cultural representation; and discuss the role of monuments in public spaces in light of the 2017 Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers
  • the revitalization in July of the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites, a gallery devoted to exploring the origins of the universe 
  • the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing in July with a SpaceFest, reflecting the Museum’s legacy of bringing the latest space science to the public since the establishment of the Hayden Planetarium
     
  • the convening in October of a major scientific conference about human genetics, building on the Museum’s longstanding role in illuminating scientific breakthroughs with implications for human health 
     
  • the debut in January 2020 of an all-new Space Show in the Hayden Planetarium
  • the re-opening in Fall 2020 of one of the most beloved and popular spaces in the Museum, the completely redesigned Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, which will bring the latest geological science and most dazzling specimens to light
     
  • the redesign and reinterpretation of the first and most historically distinguished of the Museum’s cultural galleries, the Northwest Coast Hall, scheduled to reopen in Winter 2021
     
  • the culminating event, the opening of the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation

Offering a New Look at the King of Dinosaurs

The story of the iconic Tyrannosaurus rex begins at the American Museum of Natural History, whose legendary fossil hunter Barnum Brown discovered the first specimen of a T. rex in 1902, in Montana. The public first saw a fossil of Tyrannosaurus rex when it went on public display at the Museum in 1906, sparking admiration and inspiring echoes in popular culture that continue today. On March 11, the Museum will open the first major exhibition of the 150th anniversary celebration, T.rex: The Ultimate Predator, which explores how tyrannosaurs evolved to include one of the largest and most fearsome carnivores of all time. Incorporating the latest scientific discoveries about these ancient predators from Mark Norell, the Museum’s Macaulay Curator of Paleontology, and his colleagues, the exhibition will include stunning life-size reconstructions of feathered tyrannosaurs at various life stages, real fossils and casts, large-scale video projections, hands-on interactives, and a multiplayer virtual reality experience created specifically for this exhibition that will allow visitors to virtually assemble a T. rex skeleton and watch it come to life. In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum’s annual Identification Day, which invites visitors to bring in their own collections for identification by Museum scientists and which will be held on March 23, will focus on predatory species across all animal groups. 

Inviting New Yorkers and Museum Fans Worldwide to Share Stories

Launching today, a new website at amnh.org/150 will provide opportunities for the public to join in the anniversary celebration online.

The website will provide a calendar of anniversary activities and updates in addition to featuring a series of new videos, launching in April—the month in 1869 when the Museum was incorporated—that will offer in-depth looks at how some of the most iconic exhibits at the Museum, including T. rex, the blue whale model, the 15.5-ton Willamette Meteorite, and others, have inspired New Yorkers and visitors from around the world through the years. 

Visitors are also invited to share their stories, pictures, and reflections about the Museum and its place in their lives by submitting media files to the Museum for publication online. A curated gallery of social media posts will create a lively, ongoing conversation about the Museum and its role in the lives of New Yorkers and visitors from all over the world. 

Exploring Beyond Our Planet

In January 2020, the Museum will premiere an all-new Space Show in the Hayden Planetarium Space Theater, displaying an astonishingly realistic view of planets, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies based on a 3D map of the observable universe maintained by Museum scientists and visualization experts. 

The 150th anniversary Space Show will explore our immediate cosmic neighborhood: our Solar System.

Adding Sparkle to the Anniversary 

Fall 2020 will witness the reopening of the completely renovated Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, where a gleaming new exhibition designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates creates a showcase for the world-renowned collection. 

Featuring large-scale new specimens including a sparkling pair of amethyst geodes—a 9-foot-tall specimen and a 12-foot geode that is one of the largest in the world—as well as such celebrated gems as the 563-carat Star of India sapphire, the exhibits will tell the fascinating story of how approximately 4,500 different types of minerals arose on our dynamic planet, how scientists classify them, and how humans have fashioned them into gems and used them throughout history for personal adornment, tools, and technology. 

One of a series of renovations that are transforming and updating the historic core galleries of the Museum in conjunction with the 150th anniversary, the redesign of the Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals creates a contemporary space to house stunning new large-scale specimens, connects the galleries directly to the new Gilder Center to improve visitor circulation, and enables the Museum to present the most current understanding of how minerals form—and of how minerals are inextricably linked to their natural environment and biology on the one hand, and to technology and culture on the other.

Reinterpreting a Masterwork

The Museum’s first cultural hall is undergoing a major project to refresh and enrich the historic gallery, update interpretations, and represent the living cultures and traditions of the Native peoples of the Pacific Northwest. In October, the Museum named renowned Nuu-chah-nulth artist and cultural historian Haa’yuups (Ron Hamilton) a co-curator of the restoration, working with Museum Curator Peter Whiteley. In addition to the curatorial role of Haa’yuups, the Museum is consulting with a diverse group of core advisors that includes Native scholars, artists, and other authorities from Alaska, Washington State, and British Columbia. 

The restoration project includes a major effort by the Museum’s Objects Conservation Laboratory to conserve more than 800 items from the Northwest Coast collection, including the six iconic totem poles in the gallery as well as smaller pieces, such as ceremonial masks and rattles, in consultation with Native scholars and artists. 

The distinguished design firm wHY is working with Museum staff to renovate the physical structure while preserving the elegant historic gallery. Work on the Northwest Coast Hall will continue throughout the anniversary celebrations, with a reopening and rededication anticipated in early 2021.

Breaking Ground for a New Era

The Museum will be building its future as it breaks ground on the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation. This 230,000-square-foot, $383 million facility, featuring an acclaimed architectural design by Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang and exhibition design by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, will at long last connect the Museum’s disparate buildings, linking them in a continuous ring, while spanning the whole of the Museum’s mission and helping to advance and better reveal the Museum’s full program of scientific research, exhibition, and education for all ages.

The Gilder Center will include a multi-story, glass-walled Collections Core housing nearly 4 million scientific specimens, enabling visitors to look into active storage and research areas for the first time and to see the physical evidence that underlies scientific knowledge and fuels scientific research. The Gilder Center also will introduce visitors of all ages to the powerful role insects play in the ecosystems of our planet in the new Susan and Peter Solomon Family Insectarium, the Museum’s first gallery in more than 50 years dedicated to the world’s most diverse group of animals; a year-round Butterfly Vivarium, which will be a permanent and expanded experience based on the Museum’s popular temporary exhibition; an immersive Invisible Worlds theater revealing such unseen environments as the microscopic frontiers of 21st-century science and other phenomena too small, too slow, too fast, or too deep in time to be explored in traditional exhibition galleries; and education spaces including classrooms, learning labs, and age-specific student and teacher zones in addition to a fully renovated library that will include programming space and study areas for members of the public. 

Additional details and anniversary celebration programs will be announced later this year. Please check amnh.org/150 for details and updates.

Major funding for T. rex: The Ultimate Predator provided by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund.

Generous support also provided by:

Dana and Virginia Randt

Chase Private Client 

Virtual reality experience created in collaboration with HTC VIVE. 

The forthcoming Space Show is made possible by the generous support of the Charles Hayden Foundation.

The Museum gratefully acknowledges Allison and Roberto Mignone for their leadership support of the redesigned Halls of Gems and Minerals.

Generous support has been provided by the Arthur Ross Foundation.

The Museum gratefully recognizes the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, Lewis Bernard, and the City of New York, whose leadership support has made the restoration of the Northwest Coast Hall possible.

Critical support has also been provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

The conservation of painted totem poles has been made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under grant number MA-30-17-0260-17.

Additional support has been provided by the Family of Ned Hayes, the Stockman Family Foundation Trust, and the Gilbert & Ildiko Butler Family Foundation.

American Museum of Natural History (amnh.org)

The American Museum of Natural History, founded in 1869, is one of the world’s preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions. The Museum encompasses 45 permanent exhibition halls, including those in the Rose Center for Earth and Space and the Hayden Planetarium, as well as galleries for temporary exhibitions. It is home to the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, New York State’s official memorial to its 33rd governor and the nation’s 26th president, and a tribute to Roosevelt’s enduring legacy of conservation. The Museum’s five active research divisions and three cross-disciplinary centers support approximately 200 scientists, whose work draws on a world-class permanent collection of more than 34 million specimens and artifacts, as well as on specialized collections for frozen tissue and genomic and astrophysical data and on one of the largest natural history libraries in the world. Through its Richard Gilder Graduate School, it is the only American museum authorized to grant the Ph.D. degree and also to grant the Master of Arts in Teaching degree. Annual visitation has grown to approximately 5 million, and the Museum’s exhibitions and Space Shows are seen by millions more in venues on six continents. The Museum’s website, mobile apps, and massive open online courses (MOOCs) extend its scientific research and collections, exhibitions, and educational programs to additional audiences around the globe. Visit amnh.org for more information.

Hours
The Museum is open daily, 10 am–5:45 pm. The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Admission
Museum admission is free to all New York City school and camp groups.

Pay-what-you-wish admission is available only at ticket counters, where the amount you pay is up to you. 

General Admission, which includes admission to all 45 Museum halls and the Rose Center for Earth and Space but does not include special exhibitions, giant-screen 2D or 3D film, or Space Show, is $23 (adults), $18 (students/seniors), and $13 (children ages 2–12). All prices are subject to change.

General Admission Plus One includes general admission plus one special exhibition, giant-screen 2D or 3D film, or Space Show: $28 (adults), $22.50 (students/seniors), $16.50 (children ages 2–12).

General Admission Plus All includes general admission plus all special exhibitions, giant-screen 2D or 3D film, and Space Show: $33 (adults), $27 (students/seniors), $20 (children ages 2–12).

Public Information

For additional information, the public may call 212-769-5100 or visit the Museum’s website at amnh.org

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Become a fan of the American Museum of Natural History on Facebook at facebook.com/naturalhistory, follow us on Instagram at @AMNH, Tumblr at amnhnyc, or Twitter at twitter.com/AMNH.

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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