American Museum of Natural History. Hall of Dinosaurs.

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Exist Dates

1903 - 1928

Biographical or Historical Note

abstract
Permanent exhibition. Opened approximately 1903 and closed approximately 1937-1938. Located on Floor 4, Section 5 from 1903 to 1926 and Floor 4, Section 9 from 1927 to 1938. The Hall of Dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History originally exhibited fossil reptiles (including dinosaurs), amphibians, and fishes. The growth of the exhibition collection led to overcrowding, and the dinosaur specimens were relocated to a larger hall and reopened on March 9, 1927 (1, 1927, p. 138-139). Paleontologists Barnum Brown and Henry Fairfield Osborn oversaw the installation (1, 1925, p. 29).

In 1902, the Museum's dinosaurs were exhibited with other fossil vertebrates in what later became the Fossil Mammal Hall. By 1903, the fossil reptiles, amphibians, and fishes moved into their own hall. This hall included the Brontosaurus, Diplodocus, fossil crocodiles, fossil turtles, and pterodactyls (2, 1902; 3, 1903). The Fossil Fish Hall, in a connecting tower, exhibited a collection of fossil fishes (4, 1911, p. 84-87). The collection of dinosaurs grew quickly and soon the hall was "badly crowded", so much so that the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton was initially exhibited in the Age of Man Hall until it was moved into the dinosaur hall in 1917 (4, 1920, p. 107; 1, 1917, p. 87-88). Then in 1926-1927, the dinosaurs were transferred to a larger, adjacent hall; and the fossil fishes remained in the tower to become the Bashford Dean Memorial Hall of Fossil Fishes (4, 1927, p. 39).

The Hall of Dinosaurs contained the Cope Collection and featured mounts of Gorgosaurus, Struthiomimus, Triceratops, Trachodon, Corythosaurus, Saurolophus, Tyrannosaurus rex, Brontosaurus, Allosaurus, Anklyosaurus, and Paleoscincus, Eryops, Narosaurus and Brontosaurus restorations, and the dinosaur mummy (5, 1906; 4, 1913, p. 95-101; 1, 1928, p. 97-100). The Stegosaurus was added in 1932, Plateosaurus in 1934, and Leptoceratops in 1935 (1, 1932, p. 60; 1, 1934, p. 8; 1, 1935, p. 10).

By 1929 plans were already underway to create more public space for the dinosaurs. The 1929 Annual Report bemoans a lack of funds for a “new Jurassic Dinosaur Hall” and for an unnamed “superb dinosaur” offered to the Museum for $14,000. The report also mentions a need for more laboratory production, including more employees, in order to open the proposed new dinosaur hall in two years (AR 1929 p. 2). By 1930, the Dinosaur Hall was being replanned and funds were acquired from the City of New York for the construction of the new Jurassic Hall that year (1, 1930, p. 938; 1, 1932, 76).

By 1938, the new Jurassic Hall (Hall of Early Dinosaurs) was complete and the east wing housing the Hall of Dinosaurs was rearranged to become the Hall of Cretaceous Dinosaurs (Hall of Late Dinosaurs) (1, 1938, p. 2).

Sources

    (1) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1917-1938.
    (2) Matthew, W.D., The Hall of Fossil Vertebrates. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1902.
    (3) Matthew, W.D., The Collection of Fossil Vertebrates: A Guide Leaflet to the Exhibition Halls of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the American Museum of Natural History. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1903.
    (4) 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, 1920-1927.
    (5) Matthew, W.D., The Mounted skeleton of Brontosaurus in the American Museum of Natural History: a Guide Leaflet to the Collections of Vertebrate Paleaontology. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1906.
    Information for the hall appears in the following Museum publications
    Annual Reports for years 1922 (page 19-20); 1924 (page 51); 1925 (page 7, 18, 29, 123, 141); 1926 (page 48, 143); 1927 (page 32, 35, 47, 90, 139); 1928 (page 42, 61) 1930 (page 38,) 1932 (page 60); 1934 (page 8); 1935 (page 10)
    General Guides for years 1911 (page 81); 1913 (page 94); 1914 (page 103); 1916 (112); 1918 (103); 1919 (107); 1920 (107); 1921 (107); 1922 (107); 1923 (107); 1926 (3, 30, 39); 1927 (page 3, 30, 39); 1928 (page 5, 7, 96-100); 1929 (page 5, 7, 96-100); 1930 (page 5, 7, 96-100); 1931 (page 5, 15, 112-115); 1932 (page 5, 15, 112-115); 1933 (page 5, 15, 112, 114-117); 1934 (page 5, 15, 114, 116-119); 1935 (page 5, 15, 114, 116-119); 1935 (page 5, 15, 114, 116-119); 1936 (116)

Terms

place
New YorkExternal link
AMNH: Floor 4, Section 5. From 1924, AMNH: Floor 4, Section 9.

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Bashford Dean Hall of Fossil Fishes
The Bashford Dean Hall of Fossil Fishes was located in the tower room of the Hall of Dinosaurs (1929-1938) (4, 1931, p. 111). .
Brown, Barnum
Curator for the hall (1, 1925, p. 29).
Fossil Fish Hall
Fossil Fish Hall was exhibited in the Tower Room of the Hall of Dinosaurs (4, 1911, p. 84).
Hall of Early Dinosaurs
Halls of Early and Late Dinosaurs succeeded the Hall of Dinosaurs.
Hall of Late Dinosaurs
Halls of Early and Late Dinosaurs succeeded the Hall of Dinosaurs.
Osborn, Henry Fairfield 1857-1935
Curator for the hall (1, 1925, p. 29).

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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