American Museum of Natural History. Hall of Early Dinosaurs.

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Exist Dates

1939 - 1991

Biographical or Historical Note

abstract
Permanent exhibition. Opened April 17, 1939 and closed February 1991. Located Floor 4, Section 13. The Hall of Early Dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History opened alongside the Hall of Late Dinosaurs (1, 1939, p. 5; 2). The two halls succeeded the Hall of Dinosaurs and divided the dinosaur exhibits chronologically. The hall was renovated and rearranged in 1940's and 1950's. Murals by Thomas Voter of animals from the American Triassic and Jurassic periods were planned and eventually installed on the upper walls of the hall (1, 1941, p. 10). The Fossil Fish Alcove was installed at the back of the hall in the early 1950's (1, 1950/51, p. 33) The hall closed in 1991 for the creation of new fossil halls (2).

Not long after the Hall of Dinosaurs, newly separate from other fossil reptiles, fishes, and amphibians, opened in 1927, plans were afoot to separate the dinosaur exhibits into two halls (1, 1929, p. 2). The new Jurassic Hall was part of a newly constructed building called the African Wing (1, 1934, p. 27) and was to occupy space on the fourth floor around the corner from the original Dinosaur Hall, which would be reformed as the Cretaceous Hall (later known as the Tyrannosaur Hall and then Hall of Late Dinosaurs). The Hall of Early Dinosaurs was named the Jurassic Hall when it opened in 1939. It was generally referred to as the Brontosaur Hall in the 1950's and as the Hall of Early Dinosaurs from the 1960's onward.

The dominant feature of the hall was the Brontosaurus skeleton in the center. The Hall also featured mounts of Allosaurus and Stegosaurus skeletons. The more ancient reptiles, including Diadectes, Naosaurus, Edaphosaurus, Dimetrodon, Dicynodon, Moschops, Scutosaurus, and Eryops were displayed toward the end of the hall (3, 1939, p. 4; 1950/51 8, p. 41;). Other exhibits included eight skeletons of a newly-discovered type of Camptosaurid dinosaur, a free mounted skeletal cast of Placodus, a Nodosauroid skeleton, an unmounted Barosaurus skeleton, and dinosaur tracks from Glenrose, Texas (9, 1938, p. 2, 8). By the 1950's the hall's exhibits also included Hypsonathus, phytosaurs, pelycosaurs, Plateosaurus, Coelophysis, Cotylorhynchus, and Placodus (3, 1953, p. 56-59).

In the 1990's, the Museum's Department of Paleontology reimagined the fossils halls. The Halls of Early and Late Dinosaurs closed to make way for the Halls of Saurischian and Ornithischian Dinosaurs, which are arranged not by chronology but by evolutionary relationships. Many of the fossils in the Hall of Early and Late Dinosaurs moved to the newly arranged halls. Notably, the Brontosaur, by this time called Apatosaurus, and the Allosaurus moved to the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs, and the Stegosaurus moved to the Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs. In 1993, a special exhibition, Work in Progress: Drawing Board to Dinosaurs was on view in Gallery 77 for visitors to preview the new halls (4, 1993, p. 15).

Sources

    (1) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1929-1950/51.
    (2) Browne, Malcolm W. "Dinosaur Displays Closing for Renovation." New York Times. November 29, 1990, accessed March 13, 2017, https://search.proquest.com/docview/108460551?accountid=8068.
    (3) 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, 1939-1953.
    (4) American Museum of Natural History. Official Guide: Images from around American Museum of Natural History. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1993.
    Information for the hall appears in the following Museum publications:
    American Museum of Natural History Annual Reports for years 1929 (page 2); 1930 (page 43); 1932 (page 76); 1933 (page 15); 1934 (page 27); 1935 (page 3); 1937 (page 37); 1938 (page 2, 8); 1939 (page 5); 1941 (page 10); 1951 (page 33); 1954 (page 26); 1957 (page 15); 1960 (page 20); 1972 (page 32); 1980 (page 55); 1984 (page 64); 1987 (page 74)
    American Museum of Natural History General Guides for years 1939 (page 19, 41); 1943 (page 19); 1945 (page 19, 41); 1947 (page 19, 41); 1949 (page 19, 41); 1953 (Floor plans, page 24, 56); 1956 (Table of Contents, page 62); 1958 (Table of Contents, page 62); 1962 (page 13, 41, 45); 1964 (page 10, 13, 45)
    American Museum of Natural History: Pictorial Guide 1967.
    American Museum of Natural History: An Introduction 1972 (page 5, 7, 56)
    American Museum of Natural History Official Guide 1984, page 19.

Terms

place
New YorkExternal link
AMNH: Floor 4, Section 13. Additional location information: Hall Number 4-H.

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Bashford Dean Hall of Fossil Fishes
The Bashford Dean Hall of Fossil Fishes was located in the tower room of the Hall of Early Dinosaurs (1939-1952, approximate)(3, 1939, p. 38).
Hall of Dinosaurs
Halls of Early and Late Dinosaurs succeeded the Hall of Dinosaurs
Hall of Late Dinosaurs
Companion hall

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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