December 14, 1922 - July 9, 1991
Director of AMNH and Hayden Planetarium
Thomas Dominic Nicholson was with the American Museum of Natural History for 35 years, rising from planetarium lecturer, 1952-1953, to museum director, 1969-1989. With a background in the merchant marine and service in World War II, Nicholson earned degrees in astronomy while teaching navigation and astronomy. He became a lecturer at the Hayden Planetarium, was made associate astronomer in 1954, then director. In 1969, Nicholson was appointed director of the AMNH, following James A. Oliver. Nicholson faced reduced government subsidies, but chose to expand and modernize the museum rather than cut facilities and services. During his tenure, the endowment fund increased from $46 million to $143 million, and annual attendance went up from 2.1 million to 3.1 million. The museum opened seven new halls and renovated others and, starting in 1979, produced eight "blockbuster" exhibits, including Gold of El Dorado (1979-1980) and Ancestors : four million years of humanity (1984). Nicholson retired in 1989, but retained emeritus status, and an office in the museum, until his death in 1991. (source: Thomas D. Nicholson papers, 1969-1989 (bulk 1969-1980). DR 120)
Worked at the American Museum of Natural History in Hayden Planetarium.
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