American Museum of Natural History. LeFrak Theater.

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Biographical or Historical Note

Permanent exhibition. Originally opened to the public as the Museum's Lecture Hall in 1889 and contained 1002 seats (1, 1889-1890, p. 10-11). With the growing popularity of the Museum's public instruction in New York City schools, the Museum established the Department of Public Instruction in 1884 (1, 1884, p. 8) led by Albert S. Bickmore. The development of a lecture hall on site widened its audience to the working classes (1, 1884, p. 9). Over the years it has become a venue for scientific conferences and IMAX films on nature and culture.

As part of the Museum's construction and rehabilitation program proposed in 1944, the theater was renovated and enlarged to hold 2300 seats. The acoustics and projection were also modernized (1, 1944, p. 5, 25). The new auditorium was completed in the fall of 1959 (1, 1959, p. 3).

In May 2002, the Museum opened the fully renovated and state-of-the-art Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Theater. The new theater was carefully restored to its original architectural splendor and equipped with the latest technology (1, 2001-2003, p. 6).


    (1) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1884, 1889-1890, 1944, 1959, 2001-2003.


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AMNH: Floor 1.

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Bickmore, Albert S. (Albert Smith), 1839-1914
Department of Public Instruction

Written by: Iris Lee
Last modified: 2018 December 7


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