American Museum of Natural History. Gardner D. Stout Hall of Asian Peoples.

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Exist Dates

1980 - present

Biographical or Historical Note

abstract
Permanent exhibition. Opened October 17, 1980. Located on Floor 2, Section 3. The Gardner D. Stout Hall of Asian Peoples at the American Museum of Natural History is the Museum’s largest cultural hall, occupying 16,000 feet of floor space and showcasing some 3,000 Asian ethnological artifacts (1, 1974/75, p. 24; 2). Archaeologist Walter Fairservis was instrumental in planning the hall, which was named in honor of Museum President Emeritus Gardner D. Stout. Preparators included Beth Sudekum, Dave Schwendeman, and Derek Squires. Major funding for the hall was provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (1, 1967/68 p. 24; 1, 1978/79 p. 50; 1, 1980/81, p. 2).

Several years after the closure of the Chinese and Siberian Collections Hall, plans for of a new Peoples of Asia Hall appeared in 1967; construction began in 1973 (1, 1967/68 p. 24; 1, 1974/75, p.4). Preview exhibitions for the new hall, in the form of Exhibits of the Month, were shown as early as 1971 (1, 1971/72 p. 9).

A number of special events at the Museum celebrated the opening of the new Hall of Asian Peoples, including film screenings and music and dance performances. The hall was featured in national advertising campaigns and heavily promoted along with the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites, which opened within a year of the Hall of Asian Peoples (AR 1980 p. 47-55). A companion book, Asia: Tradition and Treasures, written by Walter Fairservis with color photographs by Lee Boltin, was published in October 1981 (1, 1980/81, p. 50).

The hall explores the Asian continent’s history and cultural diversity, highlighting regions such as India, China, Japan, Korea, Siberia, and Armenia, and exploring topics that include trade, Asian pre-history, and the rise of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Confucianism. Sections of the hall are arranged geographically, and visitors may walk through the hall following either a northern or southern trade route. Detailed dioramas include depictions of a wedding in a rural Hindu village in central India; a faithful re-creation of a late 19th-century healing ceremony of the Sakha of Eastern Siberia; and an ornate wedding chair, which would have carried a traditional Chinese bride to her new life with her husband’s family (2).

Sources

    (1) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1967/68-1980/81.
    (2) American Museum of Natural History. "Gardner D. Stout Hall of Asian Peoples", accessed October 24, 2016, http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/permanent-exhibitions/human-origins-and-cultural-halls/gardner-d.-stout-hall-of-asian-peoples.
    Information for the hall appears in the following Museum publications:
    American Museum of Natural History Annual Reports for years 1967 (page 24); 1968 (page 18); 1969 (page 18, 39, 43); 1970 (page 3, 10, 20); 1971 (page 9, 16); 1972 (page 7, 16); 1973 (page 15); 1974 (page 4, 9, 14, 24, 30); 1975 (page 4); 1976 (page 4, 26); 1977 (page 12, 19, 20); 1978 (page 7, 14, 50); 1979 (page 2, 3); 1980 (page 2, 9, 47, 49, 53-54); 1981 (page 6, 50, 55); 1983 (page 6); 1984 (page 5); 1985 (page 8); 1988 (page 4, 7); 1990 (page 6); 1991 (page 63, 78)
    American Museum of Natural History Official Guides for years 1984 (page 37, 50); 1993 (page 43, 50); 2001 (page 61)

Terms

place
New YorkExternal link
AMNH: Floor 2, Section 3.

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Boltin, Lee
Took photographs for Walter Fairservis' companion book, Asia: Tradition and Treasures (1, 1980/81, p. 50)
Fairservis, Walter AshlinExternal link
Planned hall and wrote companion book, Asia: Tradition and Treasures (1, 1967, p. 24; 1, 1980/81 p. 50).
Phromkamnerd, Roon
Buddhist monk who modelled for cast for exhibit in hall (1, 1978/79, p. 50)
Schwendeman, David
Preparator for exhibits in hall (1, 1978/79, p. 50)
Squires, Derk
Preparator for exhibits in hall (1, 1978/79, p. 50)
Stout, Gardner, D.
Former Museum President for whom hall is named (1, 1977,p. 19).
Sudekum, Beth
Preparator for exhibits in hall (1, 1978/79, p. 50).
The History of Asian Jews (Exhibition)
associated dates: 1989 May 5-1989

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: 2019 February 15


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