American Museum of Natural History. Leonard C. Sanford Hall of North American Birds.

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Exist Dates

1902 - present

Biographical or Historical Note

abstract
Permanent exhibition. Opened 1902. Located on Floor 3, Section 1. The Leonard C. Sanford Hall of North American Birds at the American Museum of Natural History features dioramas of North American birds in different habitats from the Florida Everglades to Alaskan riverbeds, with forests, prairies, marshes, and deserts among the ecosystems represented (1). Preparation for the hall began in 1899 and was conceived and directed by ornithology curator Frank M. Chapman, who collected most of the specimens and made nearly all of the field studies (2, 1962, p. 31). Other dioramas were added between this time and a major renovation, under the direction of curator Dean Amadon (3, 1973/74, p.21), after which the hall reopened on June 9, 1964 (3, 1963/64, p. 49). Artists for the dioramas included W.B. Cox, Raymond deLucia, H.C. Denslow, Walter Esherich, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Charles J. Hittell, Bruce Horsfall, Francis Lee Jaques, Matthew Kalmenoff, Herbert Lang, J. Hobart Nichols, George Petersen, Stephen C. Quinn, Christopher Ray, Jeness Richardson, Carl Rungius, Fred Scherer, David J. Schwendeman, and Ernest W. Smith (4, 2006, p. 166-167; 2, 1911, p. 57; 2, 1931, p. 89). Museum Trustee Robert D. Sterling and his wife were major donors to the hall (3, 1970/71 p. 3).

The original Hall of North American Birds exhibited habitat groups and specimens arranged by classification. The habitat groups included Coot (Mud Hen) and Yellow-headed Blackbird, Cobb's Island Group, and Bird Rock Group, and sixteen groups in alcoves, which included Robin, Thrush, Vireo, Warbler, and Sparrow. Passenger pigeons were exhibited by the north entrance (2, 1904, p. 24-25). By 1911, habitat groups included Orizaba, Cobb's Island, Duck Hawk, Hackensack Meadow, Wild Turkey, Florida Great Heron, Water Turkey or "Snake-bird", Sandhill Crane, Brown Pelican, Snowy Heron or Egret, Turkey Vulture, California Condor, Brandt's Cormorant, San Joaquin Valley, Flamingo, Booby and Man-of-War, Florida Rookery, Golden's Eagle, Klamath Lake, Arctic Alpine Bird Life, Sage Grouse, Prairie Chicken, Grebe, Loon, and the first habitat group, Bird Rock (2, 1911, p, 57-64). By 1912, the hall consisted primarily of habitat groups (5, 1984, p. 31); in 1916 the Whistling Swan and Whooping Crane Groups were added, the Wild Goose Group in 1918, and the Bering Sea Group in 1931 (2, 1916, p. 83; 2, 1918, p. 75-77; 2, 1931, p. 94).

The hall was renovated as a part of the Museum's ten-year exhibit program to create and update halls from 1959-1969. Some groups were refurbished and others replaced with new ones. New dioramas added during the 1960-1964 renovation included Bald Eagle, Eastern Coastal Birds, Great Horned Owl, and Waterfowl of North America; Storks and Limpkins was added in 1974. Louis Agassiz Fuertes' background for the 1904 Flamingo Group found new life as a mural, and a new mural of the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits was added (4, 2006, p. 166-167; 2, 1962, p. 31-32).

Many of the birds represented in the Hall of North American Birds are endangered, threatened, or extinct, such as the extinct Labrador duck and the endangered California condor. Habitat groups current as of 2017 are below. For clarity, historic or previous names of the dioramas are seen in parentheses.

American Egret (previously Snowy Heron or Egret)

Anhinga or Snake-bird

Bald Eagle

Birds of the Rockies (previously Arctic-Alpine Bird-Life)

Boobies and Frigatebirds

Brandt's Cormorant

California Condor

Canada Goose (previously Wild Goose)

Common Loon(s)

Desert Birds

Eastern Coastal Birds

Eastern Marsh Birds (previously Hackensack Meadow)

Golden Eagle

Great Horned Owl

Labrador Duck

Peregrine Falcon (previously Duck Hawk)

Sandhill Crane

Upland Game Birds

Wading Bird Rookery (previously Florida or Cuthbert Rookery)

Waterfowl of North America

Western Marsh Birds

Whooping Crane

Wild Turkey

Wood Storks and Limpkins

Wood Warblers (without painted background)

The hall also contains cases of owl and hawk specimens and busts of Frank M. Chapman and Leonard C. Sanford (4, 2006, p. 166-167; 6).

Sources

    (1) American Museum of Natural History, "Leonard C. Sanford Hall of North American Birds." American Museum of Natural History, accessed June 27, 2017, http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/permanent-exhibitions/birds-and-reptiles-and-amphibians-halls/leonard-c.-sanford-hall-of-north-american-birds.
    (2) General Guide to the Exhibition Halls of the American Museum of Natural History. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1904-1962.
    (3) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1963/64-1973/74.
    (4) Quinn, Stephen C. Windows on Nature: The Great Habitat Dioramas of the American Museum of Natural History. New York: Abrams; New York: American Museum of Natural History, 2006.
    (5) American Museum of Natural History. Official Guide to the American Museum of Natural History. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1984.
    (6) Leonard C. Sanford Hall of North American Birds. American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY. June 27, 2017.
    Information for the hall appears in the following Museum publications:
    American Museum of Natural History Annual Reports for years: 1915 (page 52); 1918 (page 53); 1929 (page 20, 123); 1958 (page 5); 1959 (page 4, 24); 1960 (page 63, 68); 1961 (page 4); 1962 (page 44, 57); 1963 (page 49); 1968 (page 10); 1970 (page 3); 1973 (page 21, 32); 1981 (page 46); 1983 (page 2); 1984 (page 59)
    American Museum of Natural History General Guides for years: 1904 (Table of Contents, 24, 25); 1911 (Table of Contents, 55, 57); 1913 (Table of Contents, 64, 65); 1914 (page 71, 72); 1916 (page 75, 77); 1918 (Table of Contents, 67, 71); 1919 (page 69, 73); 1920 (page 69, 73); 1921 (Table of Contents, 69, 73); 1922 (Table of Contents, 69, 73); 1923 (Table of Contents, 69, 73); 1926 (page 38); 1927 (page 38); 1928 (Table of Contents, 71); 1929 (page 71); 1930 (Table of Contents, 71); 1931 (Table of Contents, 89); 1932 (Table of Contents, 89); 1933 (Table of Contents, 91); 1934 (Table of Contents, 93); 1935 (Table of Contents, 93); 1936 (Table of Contents, 93); 1939 (page 18, 88, 89); 1943 (page 18, 92, 93); 1945 (page 18, 92); 1947 (page 18, 92); 1949 (page 18, 92); 1953 (Floor plans, 121); 1962 (page 13); 1964 (page 13, 32)
    The American Museum of Natural History: Pictorial Guide 1967.
    American Museum of Natural History: An Introduction 1972, page 5, 7.
    American Museum of Natural History Official Guides for years: 1984 (page 31); 1993 (page 27, 50); 2001 (page 54-55, 62)

Terms

place
New YorkExternal link
AMNH: Floor 3, Section 1. [North Wing, Section 308 indicated for 1904. Hall number 3-F indicated in 1953 General Guide.]

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Amadon, Dean
Curator for hall during renovation (3, 1973/74, p. 21).
Chapman, Frank M. (Frank Michler) 1864-1945
Curator, created hall (2, 1962, p. 31).
Cox, W.B.
Diorama background artist (2, 1911, p. 57-64).
DeLucia, Raymond H.
Diorama background artist (4, 2006, p. 166-167).
Denslow, Henry Carey
Diorama taxidermist (4, 2006, p. 166-167).
Escherich, Walter
Diorama taxidermist (4, 2006, p. 166-167).
Fuertes, Louis Agassiz 1874-1927
Diorama background artist (4, 2006, p. 166-167).
Harkness, W.H
Donor (6).
Hittel, Charles J.
Diorama background artist (4, 2006, p. 166-167).
Horsfall, R. Bruce (Robert Bruce) 1869-1948
Diorama background artist (4, 2006, p. 166-167).
Jaques, Francis Lee 1887-1969
Diorama background artist (2, 1931, p. 89).
Kalmenoff, Matthew
Diorama background artist (4, 2006, p. 166-167).
Lamont, Lansing
Donor (6).
Lamont, Thomas W. (Thomas William) 1870-1948
Donor (6).
Lang, Herbert 1879-1957
Diorama taxidermist (4, 2006, p. 166-167).
Larsen, Roy E.
Donor (6).
Larsen, Roy E., Mrs.
Donor (6).
Nichols, Hobart 1869-1962
Diorama background artist (4, 2006, p. 166-167).
Payson, Charles Shipman
Donor (6).
Payson, Charles Shipman, Mrs.
Donor (6).
Petersen, George E.
Diorama foreground artist (4, 2006, p. 166-167).
Queeny, Edgar M. (Edgar Monsanto) 1897-1968
Donor (6).
Quinn, Stephen C. 1951-
Diorama foreground and background artist (4, 2006, p. 166-167).
Ray, Christopher
Diorama foreground artist (4, 2006, p. 166-167).
Richardson, Jenness
Diorama taxidermist (4, 2006, p. 166-167).
Rockefeller, Avery
Donor (6).
Rockefeller, Avery, Mrs.
Donor (6).
Rowley, John 1866-1928
Diorama taxidermist (4, 2006, p. 166-167).
Rungius, Carl 1869-1959
Diorama background artist (4, 2006, p. 166-167).
Sanford, L. C. (Leonard Cutler) 1868-1950
Museum Trustee, ornithologist, hall named for him.
Scherer, Fred F
Diorama background artist (4, 2006, p. 166-167).
Smith, Ernest W.
Diorama taxidermist (4, 2006, p. 166-167).
Sterling, Robert D.
Donor (6).
Sterling, Robert D., Mrs.
Donor (6).
White, Alexander M
Museum President, donor (6).
White, Alexander M., Mrs.
Donor (6).

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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