American Museum of Natural History. Hall of Public Health.

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Exist Dates

1913 - approximately 1943-1945

Biographical or Historical Note

Permanent exhibition. Opened on April 16, 1913 and closed approximately 1943-1945. Located on Floor 3, West Corridor from 1913-1926 and on Floor 1, Section 11 from 1926-1945. The Hall of Public Health at the American Museum of Natural History was curated by the Department of Public Health. The exhibits covered issues in public health, including insect borne-diseases, sanitation, food, and water. The hall moved and became part of the School Service Wing in 1926. Curators included Thomas G. Hull, Mary Grieg, and Charles-Edward Amory Winslow of the Department of Public Health. Ignaz Matausch, B.E. Dahlgren, L.V. Coleman, E.K. Dunham, and Otto Block from the Department of Exhibition and Preparation created models and drawings. A house-fly model by Matausch was a gift of Walter B. James (1, 1913, p.72; 1, 1916, p. 91; 1, 1926, p. 105).

The Hall of Public Health was considered one of the most practical education halls in the Museum and was popular among schools to supplement classroom work (1, 1934, p. 9). The hall featured exhibits on public health and disease, water supply, food supply and economics, waste disposal, bacteria, insects and insect-borne diseases, sanitation, vital resistance, "practical data for housewives," vitamins, and disease control. The exhibits were presented through models, charts, diagrams, photographs, paintings, and illustrations (2, 1913, p. 73; 2, 1928, p. 11-13; 2, 1936, p. 13; 1, 1916, p. 90-91). In response to the United States’ entrance into World War I, exhibits were created on military hygiene, camp sanitation, and how the military protects personnel from disease (1, 1917, p. 95). Notable exhibits included several enlarged models of insects, including those of house-fly, flea, and yellow fever and malarial mosquitoes (1, p. 73). From the opening of the hall to about 1926, the Museum’ display of Audubonia was in the staircase (5, p. 76) and a bust of Louis Pasteur was installed in 1914 (1, 1914, p. 38). Pamphlets on insect-borne diseases and other public health issues were provided for visitors to the hall (2, 1914, p. 80).

From 1926 to 1939, the Hall of Public Health was housed in the School Service Wing, a five-story building, which in addition to the Public Health Hall (now considered a part of a broader Education Hall), included a dividable lecture hall, classrooms, nature room models, a teachers' reference room, and accommodations for the visually-impaired. The Education Hall was also used for special gatherings and temporary exhibits (2, 1931, p. 50).


    (1) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1913-1934.
    (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, 1913-1936.
    Information for the hall appears in the following Museum publications:
    American Museum of Natural History Annual Reports for years 1913 (page 72); 1914 (page 38); 1915 (page 52); 1916 (page 90); 1917 (page 47, 95); 1918 (page 53, 93); 1934 (page 9); 1935 (page 12); 1936 (page 13); 1939 (page 8)
    American Museum of Natural History General Guides for years 1913 (page 73); 1914 (page 80); 1916 (page 85); 1918 (Table of Contents, page 79); 1919 (Table of Contents, page 80); 1920 (page 80); 1921 (Table of Contents, page 80); 1922 (Table of Contents, page 80); 1923 (Table of Contents, page 80); 1926 (page 20, 38); 1927 (page 37); 1928 (Table of Contents, page 11, 12); 1929 (page 11); 1930 (Table of Contents, page 11, 12); 1931 (Table of Contents, page 50, 51); 1932 (Table of Contents, page 50, 51); 1933 (Table of Contents, page 52, 53); 1934 (Table of Contents, page 41); 1935 (Table of Contents, page 41); 1936 (Table of Contents, page 41); 1939 (page 169); 1943 (page 18, 174)


New YorkExternal link
AMNH: Floor 3, Section 12a. [Additional location information: Floor 3, Section WC. From 1913, the hall was located in the West Corridor on the third floor. Floor 1, Section 11. From 1927, the hall was located in the School Service Wing and Southwest Court also called Education Hall. Part of School Service Building. Floor 1, Section 15. From 1934, the hall was located in the West Central Wing on the first floor. Floor 3, Section 12a. From 1939.]

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Block, Otto
Artist, models of water plants (1, 1916, p. 91).
Coleman, Laurence Vail 1893-1982
Exhibition Department, created drawings exhibited in hall (1, 1916, p. 90).
Dahlgren, B. E. (Bror Eric) 1877-1961
Artist, yellow fever mosquito model (1, 1916 p. 91).
Dunham, E.K.
Artist, rat and fly trap models (1, 1913, p. 73).
Greig, Mary
Assistant Curator for hall (1, 1926, p. 105).
Hull, Thomas G. (Thomas Gordon) 1889-
Curator for hall (1, 1916, p. 91).
James, Walter B.
Donor, funded house-fly models (1, 1913, p. 72).
Matausch, Ignaz
Artist, insect models, died before completing yellow fever mosquito model (1, 1913, p. 72).

Related Resources

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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