American Museum of Natural History. John Lindsley Hall of Earth History.

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Exist Dates

1969 - 1991

Biographical or Historical Note

Permanent exhibition. Opened January 16, 1969 and closed approximately 1991. Located on Floor 4, Section 2. The John Lindsley Hall of Earth History at the American Museum of Natural History was developed by the Department of Invertebrate Paleontology in collaboration with the departments of Mineralogy, Micropaleontology, and Exhibition to demonstrate the myriad scientific concepts in invertebrate paleontology as fundamentally connected to physical and biological events in Earth’s history. It was one of several halls to open or be updated as part of the centennial program (1, 1972, p. 52; 1, 1963/64, p. 34). Curators included Norman Newell and Roger L. Batten (1, 1967/68, p. 31-32).

The Hall of Earth History featured a rotating relief globe of the Earth, which showed land surfaces, seas, and then newly charted mountains and plains of the oceans. The hall also featured a film, which described Earth’s history from its very beginnings through evolutionary changes to the present. Visitors could view a seismographic globe with a cutaway section to show the interior of the Earth and a seismograph that recorded the shock waves of earthquakes. Other nearby exhibits discussed the different strata of the Earth (1, 1972, p. 52-53).

Displays illustrated the diversity, evolution, and structure of important fossil groups and mini-dioramas showcased habitat groups of seafloor and forest communities during different geologic time periods. Three of these, Life in the Cretaceous Seas, Life in the Permian Seas, and Life in the Ordovician Seas were moved to the Irma and Paul Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life sometime after the closure of the Hall of Earth History and continue to reside there as of 2017. Dioramas of typical oil fields illustrated some of the factors involved in the location of oil pools, such as the geometric attitudes of the rock strata, geologic age, the depth beneath the surface, and the porosity of the rock (1, 1972, p. 52-53).

A fire broke out in 1972, which necessitated the replacement of the hall's Six Processes of the Earth display (1, 1972/73, p. 32). In 1985, an 11-minute video, "Earth's Wildfire: Evidence of a Dynamic Planet," opened in a three-screen theater presenting the story of how plate tectonics cause much of the movement of the Earth's crust. The installation, which utilized videodisc recordings and front-projected images, was partially supported by a grant from Conoco and Consolidation Company (1, 1985/86, p. 55; 1, 1986/87, p. 5). The hall closed in the early 1990s to make room for the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Orientation Center.


    (1) American Museum of Natural History. The American Museum of Natural History: An Introduction. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1972.
    (2) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1963/64-1986/87.
    Information for the hall appears in the following Museum publications:
    American Museum of Natural History Annual Reports for years 1962 (page 6); 1963 (page 34, 77); 1964 (page 4); 1965 (page 4, 5); 1966 (page 39); 1967 (page 25, 31, 48, 50, 70, 79); 1968 (page p.38); 1972 (page 32); 1973 (page 13); 1976 (page 31); 1978 (page 6); 1985 (page 53); 1986 (page 5, 30, 67); 1987 (page 32)
    American Museum of Natural History: An Introduction, 1972, page 7.
    American Museum of Natural History Official Guide, 1984, page 13, 15.


New YorkExternal link
AMNH: Floor 4, Section 2.

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Batten, Roger Lyman
Curator (2, 1967/68, p. 31-32).
Newell, Norman Dennis 1909-2005
Curator (2, 1967/68, p. 31-32).

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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