American Museum of Natural History. Shell Hall

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Exist Dates

approximately 1901 - approximately 1924-1925

Biographical or Historical Note

abstract
Permanent exhibition. Opened approximately 1901 and closed approximately 1924-1925. Located on Floor 5, Section 2 from approximately 1901 to approximately 1911, and on Floor 3, Section 8 from approximately 1911 to approximately 1925. The Shell Hall at the American Museum of Natural History was arranged to exhibit mollusks according to Lamarckian classification and curated by Louis Gratacap (1, 1901, p. 30; 2, 1904, p. 5; 2, 1911, p. 7; 1, 1917, p. 61).

The Museum's shell collection was initially exhibited with the gem and mineral collections on the fourth floor and moved to the fifth floor in 1899-1901 to form the Shell Hall. At the same time the Department of Conchology split off from the Department of Geology (AR 1901 p. 30; AR 1898 p. 10). The Shell Hall contained many donated collections, including the Jay-Wolfe (1873), Haines (1895), Crooke (1893), and D. Jackson Steward collections (2, 1904, p. 11), the Gabay Collection of Ornamental Shells, and the Gomez Collection of Abnormalities (1, 1913, p. 66).

The hall moved to the third floor by 1911 (1, 1912, p. 62) and featured a huge shell of the giant clam, Tridacna (1, 1916, p. 97) at the new entrance. The hall contained 100,000 specimens of nearly 15,000 species. As the hall was arranged by classification, specimens were displayed as table cases of land shells, upright cases of bivalves, sloping cases of univalves, and special exhibits. Other cases contained exhibits illustrating anatomy and habits, colored transparencies, a collection of deformed shells, a series of ornamental uses of shells (2, 1914, p. 97), and a colored photograph series illustrating stages in the United States pearl button industry (1, 1918, p. 90). The shell exhibits included picture labels of families and distribution maps (1, 1919, p. 92). When the hall closed, some of the shell collection on exhibit was transferred to the new Hall of Ocean Life (1, 1924, p. 57).

Sources

    (1) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1901-1924.
    (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, 1904-1914.
    Information for the hall appears in the following Museum publications:
    American Museum of Natural History Annual Reports for years 1895 (page 15); 1896 (page 13); 1899 (page 23); 1910 (page 41); 1912 (page 62); 1913 (page 36); 1914 (page 40, 61); 1915 (page 44); 1916 (page 31, 182); 1917 (page 70); 1921 (page 63); 1922 (page 68); 1923 (page 97); 1924 (page 56, 57); 1926 (page 145)
    American Museum of Natural History General Guides for years 1904 (Table of Contents, page 11); 1911 (page 55, 69); 1913 (page 82); 1914 (page 91); 1916 (page 97); 1918 (page 90); 1919 (page 92); 1921 (page 92); 1922 (page 92); 1923 (page 92)

Terms

place
New YorkExternal link
AMNH: Floor 3, Section 8. [Additional location information: Floor 5, Section 2, Central Hall, Hall Number 504. From 1904; Floor 3, Section 8, West Wing. From 1913.]

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Gabay, Arthur D.
Donated collection to hall (1, 1913, p. 66).
Grace, W.R., Mrs.
Donated collection to hall (1, 1917, p. 61).
Gratacap, L. P. (Louis Pope) 1851-1917
Curator for hall (1, 1916, p. 61).
Gugelman, Edward H.
Museum employee, worked on exhibits in hall (1, 1921, p. 65; 1, 1923, p. 97).
Hunt, Frederick F.
Hall donor (1, 1917, p. 61).
Hunt, Frederick F., Mrs.
Hall donor (1, 1917, p. 61).
Irma and Paul Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life
Shell collections on exhibit transferred to Hall of Ocean Life after closure of Shell Hall and beginning construction of the Hall of Ocean Life (1, 1924, p. 57)..
Steward, D. Jackson
Donated collection (1, 1898, p. 10).

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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