American Museum of Natural History. Darwin Hall.

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Exist Dates

1904 - 1952

Biographical or Historical Note

abstract
Permanent exhibition. Opened approximately 1904 and closed approximately 1950-1952. Located on Floor 1, Section 5. The Darwin Hall at the American Museum of Natural History was primarily devoted to invertebrate zoology, relationships between various groups of animals, and the evolution of life. On February 12, 1909, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of the Species, the hall was rededicated by the Trustees as the Darwin Hall of Invertebrate Zoology (1, 1906, p. 26). Curators and artists for the Darwin Hall included Roy W. Miner, Henry Edward Crampton, George H. Childs, B.E. Dahlgren, Show Shimotori, Chris E. Olson, Herman O. Mueller, Ignaz Matausuch, Worthington H. Southwick, L.W. Williams, and Janet Smedley (1, 1906, p. 22; 1, 1913, p. 63; 1, 1917, p. 70; 1, 1920, p. 75; 1, 1929, p. 60; 1, 1936, p. 9).

The Synoptic or Invertebrate Zoology Hall, as it was then known, also contained exhibits of vertebrates such as fishes and reptiles. With the opening of the East Mammal Hall and the North Corridor in 1906, it was possible to move those collections into more appropriate halls (1, 1906, p. 22). In 1912 the sections of the giant sequoia (an iconic exhibit also known as the Big Tree) and red wood trees were transferred from the Darwin Hall to the Forestry Hall (1, 1911, p. 30; 1, 1912, p. 33). With the opening of the Hall of Fishes and the Hall of Ocean Life, it was decided to render the three adjoining halls with the same color scheme, suggestive of sea tones (1, 1925, p. 23).

The Darwin Hall was known for its models of invertebrates, many of them glass, which included clam, oyster, common squid by L.W. Williams, and malarial mosquitos by B.E. Dahlgren, one of which is on display in the Hall of North American Forests as of 2017. Other exhibits included a case with coral, specimens of giant lobsters and crab, which may be the same lobster and crab later exhibited in the Hall of Living Invertebrates (2, 1911, p. 29-32; 2, 1919, p. 31-32; 3). The Darwin Hall featured the Tree of Life, a family tree of the animal kingdom with each class of animal represented by a color sketch and a bust of Charles Darwin by William Couper presented to the Museum by the New York Academy of Sciences on the Darwin centenary (2, 1928, p. 35).

The hall also featured a synoptic series of alcoves, which showcased examples of various groups or orders included in the classes of the Tree of Life and window or habitat groups, both of which moved to the Hall of Ocean Life after the closure of the Darwin Hall (2, 1953, p. 75-82). The complete list of the synoptic series and habitat groups was as follows:

Synoptic Series:

Alcove 1: Protozoa

Alcove 2: Sponges

Alcove 3: Polyps

Alcove 4: Flatworms

Alcove 5: Roundworms

Alcove 6: Rotifers

Alcove 7: Sea-Mats and Lamp-Shells

Alcove 8: Sea-Stars and Their Relatives

Alcove 9: Annulates

Alcove 10: Arthropods

Alcove 11: Mollusks

Alcove 12: Chordates, including Vertebrates

Habitat Groups:

Marine Worm Group

Shore Mollusk Group

Wharf Pile Group

Rock Tide-Pool Group

Sound Bottom Group

Bryozoa Group

Rotifer Group (2, 1949, p. 56-60)

The hall closed between 1950 and 1952 to make way for the new Hall of North American Forests.

Sources

    (1) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1906-1936.
    (2) American Museum of Natural History. General Guide to [the Exhibition Halls of] the American Museum of Natural History. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1911-1953.
    (3) Hall of North American Forests. American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY. March 29, 2017.
    Information for the hall appears in the following Museum publications:
    American Museum of Natural History Annual Reports for years 1905 (page 23); 1906 (page 22); 1907 (page 35); 1909 (page 26); 1910 (page 41); 1911 (page 30); 1912 (page 33); 1913 (page 63); 1914 (page 21, 78); 1915 (page 28, 82); 1916 (page 22, 41, 65, 67); 1917 (page 49, 57, 70); 1918 (page 29, 53, 65, 93); 1919 (page 72); 1920 (page 62, 74); 1921 (page 63-67); 1922 (page 67); 1923 (page 93-95); 1924 (page 3, 54, 56); 1925 (page 13, 23, 43); 1926 (page 52); 1927 (page 24, 50); 1928 (page 3, 5, 28, 43, 92); 1929 (page 60); 1930 (page 38); 1931 (page 45, 60); 1932 (page 60, 77); 1934 (page 8); 1935 (page 11); 1936 (page 9, 30); 1937 (page 1, 40, 643); 1938 (page 8, 18); 1939 (page 8, 19); 1940 (page 11); 1941 (page 10, 11)
    American Museum of Natural History General Guides for years 1904 (Table of Contents); 1911 (Table of Contents, page 13, 29); 1913 (Table of Contents, page 37); 1914 (Table of Contents, page 37); 1916 (Table of Contents, page 39); 1918 (Table of Contents, page 27); 1919 (Table of Contents, page 30); 1921 (Table of Contents, page 30); 1922 (Table of Contents, page 30); 1923 (Table of Contents, page 9, 30); 1926 (page 10, 37); 1927 (page 10, 37); 1928 (Table of Contents, page 35); 1930 (Table of Contents, page 35); 1931 (Table of Contents, page 21); 1932 (Table of Contents, page 21); 1933 (Table of Contents, page 21); 1934 (Table of Contents, page 20); 1935 (Table of Contents, page 20); 1936 (Table of Contents, page 20); 1939 (page 16, 56); 1943 (page 16, 56, 57); 1945 (page 16, 56); 1945 (page 57); 1947 (page 16, 56, 57); 1949 (page 16, 56, 57)

Terms

place
New YorkExternal link
AMNH: Floor 1, Section 5. From 1904, the hall location is documented in the East Wing, Hall Number 107. From 1909 it is documented in the Southeast Pavilion.

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Childs, George Henshaw 1891-1963
Scientific artist who did field studies for Annulate Group (1, 1929, p. 60)
Couper, William 1853-1942
Artist who sculpted bust of Darwin, which was presented by New York Academy of Sciences (2, 1928, p. 35).
Crampton, Henry Edward 1875-1956
Curator, Invertebrate Zoology (1, 1913, 63)
Dahlgren, B. E. (Bror Eric) 1877-1961
Assistant curator and artist, created malarial mosquito model (1, 1906, p. 22).
Matausch, Ignaz
Artist for exhibits in hall, (2, 1917, p. 70)
Miner, Roy Waldo 1875-1955
Curator and artist for exhibits in hall, including Nahant Tide Pool Group (1, 1913 p. 63).
Mueller, Herman Oskar
Artist for glass invertebrate models in hall (1, 1913, p. 63).
Myers, Frank Jacob
Reseach Associate, Invertebrate Zoology, worked on Rotifer Group (1, 1920, p.75).
Olsen, Chris E.
Artist for exhibits in hall (1, 1917, p. 70)
Shimotori, Show
Worked on Nahant Tide Pool Group (1, 1913, p. 63)
Smedley, Janet
Assisted Chris E. Olsen for exhibit of Color Variation in a West Indian Sun Shell (1, 1936, p. 9).
Williams, Leonard Worcester 1875-1912
Artist for common squid model (1, 1906, p. 22).

Related Resources

subjectOf
Historic Halls of the American Museum of Natural History
Curated digital images of permanent halls in the American Museum of Natural History Library, Digital Special Collections.

Written by: Clare O'Dowd
Last modified: 2018 December 7


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