American Museum of Natural History. Eskimo Hall.

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Exist Dates

1896 - 1999

Biographical or Historical Note

abstract
Permanent exhibition. Opened 1896 and closed 1999. Located on Floor 1, Section NC as the north corridor of the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians from 1896-1916 and on Floor 1, Section 7a from 1916 to 1999 (1, 1998; 1, 1999). The Eskimo Hall at the American Museum of Natural History highlighted traditional Eskimo (Inuit) cultures in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Alaska, Canada, and Greenland and their ability to survive and thrive in the harshest environments (2, 1972, p. 137; 3, 1984, p. 42). When the Eskimo Hall was exhibited at the rear of the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians, it featured murals by Frank Wilbert Stokes which were financially supported by Arthur Curtiss James (4, 1906, p. 19). Material for the hall was contributed by the Stefansson-Anderson and Crocker Land Expeditions (4, 1919, p. 99). Expedition members of the Crocker Land Expedition included Robert Peary, George Comer, and Donald MacMillan (5, 1919 p. 15). As part of the Museum's ten-year exhibition expansion program, the hall was redeveloped by curator Stanley Freed and reopened on March 5, 1965 (2, 1964-1965, p. 28-29).

The original iteration of the hall featured cases of ethnological exhibits on the Eastern Eskimo, Southampton Island Eskimo, Hudson Bay Eskimo, and Mackenzie River Eskimo with objects such as ceremonial masks, whalebone toboggins, stone-tipped arrows, harpoons, and coiled and woven baskets. This section also included exhibits on tribes of the Amur River in Siberia and the Ainu of Japan (5, 1904, p. 50).

The hall featured mannequin groups in cases, including one of an Eskimo woman cooking and another of an Eskimo woman fishing through ice. Outside the hall at the entrance to the Auditorium, were two related groups, including that of an igloo home scene of a woman cooking blubber over a sea oil lamp located under the Stokes mural Land of the Midnight Sun (5, 1911, p. 16-18). The material for the Eskimo Hall was exhibited within the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians until 1916, when it was relocated to the adjoining corridor (4, 1916, p. 87). The hall featured ivory objects collected by Peary, Comer, and MacMillan (5, 1919, p. 15). Before its renovation in the early 1960's, The hall also exhibited miniature models, including one of an Eskimo winter house in Cumberland Sound (5, 1953, p. 174-175).

When the hall reopened in 1965, it featured exhibits of tools, weapons, dependence on sea mammals, use of dogsleds, skin-covered boats, shamans, snow houses, blubber-burning lamps, caribou-skin clothing, bone and ivory implements, and children's games. It also included miniatures such as a Cooper Eskimo snow house (5, 1964, p. 18; 6, 1967; 2, 1972, p. 137-139). The hall closed between 1999 and 2000 and the LeFrak Theater (IMAX) Corridor opened in the same space in 2002 (7).

Sources

    (1) American Museum of Natural History. 1998-1999. Floor Plan. New York: American Museum of Natural History.
    (2) American Museum of Natural History. An Introduction to the American Museum of Natural History. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1972.
    (3) American Museum of Natural History. American Museum of Natural History: the Official Guide. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1984.
    (4) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1906-1964/65.
    (5) 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, 1904-1964.
    (6) American Museum of Natural History. The American Museum of Natural History: A Pictorial Guide. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1967.
    (7) American Museum of Natural History Library. "LeFrak Theater Corridor", accessed August 1, 2017, http://data.library.amnh.org:8082/orbeon/xeac/id/amnhc_4000066.
    Information for the hall appears in the following Museum publications:
    American Museum of Natural History Annual Reports for years 1896 (page 19); 1899 (page 22); 1900 (page 19); 1901 (page 23); 1906 (page 19); 1908 (page 35-36); 1912 (page 66); 1914 (page 74); 1915 (page 80-81); 1916 (page 87); 1919 (page 89); 1940 (page 23); 1941 (page 22); 1961 (page 38); 1963 (page 21); 1964 (page 3); 1968 (page 10); 1970 (page 37); 1983 (page 62); 1986 (page 65)
    American Museum of Natural History General Guides for years 1911 (page, 16-18),;1913 (page 23-24); 1914 (page 25); 1916 (page 27); 1918 (page 9); 1919 (Table of Contents, page 9); 1921 (Table of Contents, page 9); 1922 (Table of Contents, page 9); 1923 (Table of Contents, page 9); 1926 (page 37); 1927 (page 37); 1928 (Table of Contents); 1930 (page Table of Contents); 1931 (Table of Contents); 1932 (Table of Contents); 1933 (Table of Contents); 1934 (Table of Contents); 1935 (Table of Contents); 1936 (Table of Contents); 1939 (page 132, 133); 1939 (page 16); 1943 (page 16, 140); 1945 (page 16, 139, 140); 1947 (page 16, 139, 140); 1949 (page 16, 140); 1953 (Floor plans, page 174, 175); 1956 (page 179, 181); 1958 (page 181, 183); 1962 (page 12, 18); 1964 (page 1, 18)
    American Museum of Natural History: Pictorial Guide, 1967.
    American Museum of Natural History: An Introduction, 1972, page 7.
    American Museum of Natural History Official Guides for years 1984 page 42; 1993 page 35

Terms

place
New YorkExternal link
AMNH: Floor 1, Section 7a.

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Comer, George
Collected objects for hall from expeditions (5, 1919, p. 15)
Crocker Land Expedition
Expedition contributed objects to hall (4, 1919, p. 99)
Freed, Stanley A
Curator for hall during renovation (4, 1964/65, p. 28-29)
Hall of Northwest Coast Indians
The Eskimo Hall began as a part of the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians
James, Arthur Curtiss 1867-1941
Funding for Stokes paintings exhibited in hall (4, 1906, p. 19)
MacMillan, Donald Baxter 1874-1970
Collected objects for hall from expeditions (5, 1919, p. 15)
Peary, Robert E. (Robert Edwin) 1856-1920
Collected objects for hall from expeditions (5, 1919, p. 15)
Stefansson-Anderson Arctic Expedition
Expedition collected objects for hall (4, 1919, p. 99)
Stokes, Frank Wilbert 1858-1955
Artist for mural paintings in hall (4, 1906, p. 19)

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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