American Museum of Natural History. Insect Hall.

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Exist Dates

1904 - 1971

Biographical or Historical Note

abstract
Permanent exhibition. Opened approximately 1904 and closed approximately 1968-1971. Located on Floor 3, Section 5. The Insect Hall at the American Museum of Natural History, referred to as a “text-book of Entomology” (1, 1939, p. 66), aimed to “convey the truth that insects are not only by far the largest group of animals but that they really live an exceedingly active life” (2, 1929, p. 62). The hall highlighted insects’ relationship to man, with attention paid to damage caused by insects as well as civilization’s reliance on insects’ activities.

The Insect Hall was noted for its exhibits on the relationship between people and insects, insects’ relationship to each other, classification, habits, anatomy, physiology, embryology, evolution, insects in art and literature, photographs of prominent entomologists, and insect collection and preservation (1, 1911, p. 70-71; 1, 1914, p. 94; 1, 1919, p. 95).

The hall was renovated several times. In 1909, due to danger from strong light, local insect specimens were moved from display cases to cabinets in an adjoining study room with exhibits, in which the New York Entomological Society held its meetings (2, 1909, p. 34-35). By 1916, habitat groups were being added to the hall. They included Cicadas, Baltimore Butterfly, Cabbage Butterfly, Monarch Butterfly, Tiger Swallowtail, Spice-bush Swallowtail, Lady Beetles, and Japanese Beetles (1, 1916, p. 93; 1, 1931, p. 85). By the 1930’s the hall featured enlarged models, such as the mole cricket, malarial mosquito, body louse, flea, and the four stages of life of the housefly (1, 1943, p. 69). The General Guides in the 1930’s and 1960’s indicate that the hall featured live zoos of insects and spiders (1, 1935, p. 90; 3, 1967). In the 1950’s the hall featured exhibits such as Beneficial Insects, Destructive Insects, Insects and Art, Insect Biology and Ecology, Insect and Spider Architecture, Beauty in the Insect World, Oddities in Insects, and Insects and the Diseases of Man (1, 1953, p. 91-92).

Sources

    (1) 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.
    (2) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1909-1929.
    (3) American Museum of Natural History. The American Museum of Natural History. New York: American Museum of Natural History: Pictorial Guide, 1967.
    Information for the hall appears in the following Museum publications:
    American Museum of Natural History Annual Reports for years 1909 (page 34, 35); 1910 (page 41, 43); 1912 (page 62); 1915 (page 52); 1916 (page 68); 1917 (page 71); 1918 (page 53); 1919 (page 74); 1925 (page 46); 1926 (page 56); 1928 (page 46); 1929 (page 62, 123); 1930 (page 40); 1931 (page 45, 60); 1935 (page 11); 1937 (page 13); 1938 (page 8); 1939 (page 8); 1941 (page 13)
    American Museum of Natural History General Guides for years 1904 (page 23); 1911 (page 55, 70); 1913 (page 64, 85); 1914 (page 71, 93); 1916 (page 75, 99); 1918 (page 67, 92); 1919 (page 69, 95); 1920 (page, 69, 95); 1921 (page 69, 95); 1922 (page 69, 95); 1923 (page 69, 95); 1926 (page 38); 1927 (page 38); 1928 (page 85); 1929 (page 85); 1930 (page 85); 1931 (Table of Contents, page 83); 1932 (Table of Contents, page 83); 1933 (Table of Contents, page 83); 1934 (Table of Contents, page 90); 1935 (page 90); 1936 (Table of Contents, 90); 1939 (page 18, 66, 76); 1943 (page 18, 67, 77); 1945 (page 18, 67, 69); 1947 (page 18, 67, 69); 1949 (page 18, 67, 69); 1953 (Floor plans, page 24, 83, 86); 1956 (page 26, 92); 1958 (page 26, 92); 1962 (page 13); 1964 (page 13)
    American Museum of Natural History Pictorial Guide, 1967.

Terms

place
New YorkExternal link
AMNH: Floor 3, Section 5. [Additional location information: 1904 General Guide indicates location in East Wing, Hall Number 306. 1926, 1927 General Guides indicate location in Southeast Pavilion. 1953, 1956, 1958 General Guides indicate Hall Number 3-T.]

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Grossbeck, John A. (John Arthur) 1883-
Assistant, Invertebrates, worked under Dr. Lutz (2, 1910, p. 41).
Life in a Honeybee Colony (Exhibition)
associated dates: 1955 June 13-1955 July 10
Live Tarantulas, Black Widow Spiders, Scorpions and Whip Scorpions (Exhibition)
associated dates: 1954 October 19-1954 November, approximately
Lutz, Frank Eugene 1879-1943
Curator for hall (2, 1910, p. 41).
Mutchler, Andrew Johnson
Curator, worked on general series exhibits for hall (2, 1925, p. 46).
Wunder, Charles
Curator, worked on general series exhibits for hall (2, 1925, p. 46).

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 6


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