American Museum of Natural History. Recent Fishes (Hall)

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Exist Dates

1908 - 1925

Biographical or Historical Note

Permanent exhibition. Opened approximately 1908 and closed approximately 1924-1925. Located Floor 4, Section CCP. Recent Fishes (Hall) at the American Museum of Natural History exhibited specimens and models of living marine and fresh water fishes (1; 2, 1911-1926), many of which were made possible by the Dodge Fund (3, 1912, p. 55-56).

Exhibits in cases were arranged from primitive to more advanced fishes. Specimens and models included cartilage fishes such as lampreys and hagfishes, sharks and rays, chimaeroids or rat-fishes, lungfishes, deep sea fishes, ganoids including sturgeon, garpike, paddlefish, bowfins, and African bichirs (2, 1911, p. 44-45; 2, 1914, p. 59-63). Window groups in the hall included the shovel-nosed sturgeon and the spawning habits of the slender-nosed garpike (GG 1914 p. 63). Models of large fishes which hung on the wall included two sea sunfish, an Arapaima from the Amazon River, two Alligator Gars, and two Sailfishes (3, 1912, p. 55-56). The model of a giant ray was caught and donated by Russell J. Coles (2, 1919, p. 57). Aquarium exhibits in jars were added in 1911 with live specimens in order to demonstrate sexual differences such as color, breeding habits, and variation under domestication (3, 1911, p. 50-51).

The recent fishes exhibits were temporarily displaced in 1915 according to the annual report of that year in order to unpack material from the Museum's Congo Expedition (1909-1915). The fish were exhibited with the synoptic series of birds in the Hall of Birds of the World. The 1916 General Guide indicates that Recent Fishes was exhibited in its official location within the central pavilion corridor on the second floor (3, 1915, p. 46; 2, 1916, p. 63). Recent Fishes was replaced by a larger ichthyology hall, the Hall of Fishes of the World, which opened in 1928.


    (1) Research Library Digital Special Collections, "Exhibit, Fish Hall, 1908", accessed May 25, 2017,
    (2) General Guide to the Exhibition Halls of the American Museum of Natural History. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1911-1926
    (3) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1911-1915.
    Information for the hall appears in the following Museum publications:
    American Museum of Natural History Annual Reports for years 1909 (page 33); 1911 (page 50); 1912 (page 55); 1915 (page 46)
    American Museum of Natural History General Guides for years 1911 (page 35, 44); 1913 (page 55); 1914 (page 59); 1916 (page 63); 1918 (page 53); 1919 (page 55); 1920 (page 55); 1921 (page 55); 1922 (page 55); 1923 (page 55)


New YorkExternal link
AMNH: Floor 2, Section CCP. [Additional location information: Corridor of Central Pavilion; 1911 General Guide indicates hall being located in between Floor 2, Section 1 and Floor 2 Section 7.]

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Coles, Russell J
Donor, devilfish exhibited in hall (2, 1919, p. 57).
Hall of Fishes of the World
The Hall of Fishes of the World replaced Recent Fishes

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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