American Museum of Natural History. Hall of Biodiversity.

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Exist Dates

1998 - present

Biographical or Historical Note

Permanent exhibition. Opened May 30, 1998. Located on Floor 1, Section 9. The Hall of Biodiversity at the American Museum of Natural History presents a vivid portrait of the beauty and abundance of life on Earth, highlighting both biodiversity and the factors that threaten it. The hall was organized by a team from departments across the Museum, including Department of Invertebrates curator Niles Elredge, Department of Ornithology curator Joel Cracraft, Sidney Horenstein, coordinator of environmental programs, and Francesca Grifo, director of the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation. Willard Whitson, senior exhibits developer and interim director of the Department of Exhibitions was in charge of exhibition development at the Museum at the time, Ralph Applebaum Associates created the exhibition design, and James Stewart Polshek and Partners oversaw the architectural renovations (1, 1994/96, p. 39). Support for the hall was provided by the Metropolitan Life Foundation under the leadership of its chairman, Museum Trustee Harry P. Kamen, the Monsanto Company, the New York Times Company Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and Emily Fisher (1, 1996/97, p. 5-6; 1, 1998/99, p. 9; 1, 2000, p. 11).

The Hall of Biodiversity examines biodiversity and its importance to human survival as well as threats to biodiversity caused by humans. The hall presents not only a traditional retrospective view common in museum exhibitions, but also a current and prospective outlook, as well. The atmosphere of immediacy is supported by interactive exhibits and video installations throughout the hall as well as the immersive rainforest diorama (1, 1996/97, p. 5-6; 2).

At the center of the hall is the 2,500 square-foot walk-through diorama of the Dzanga-Sangha Rainforest in the Central African Republic. The rainforest diorama invites visitors behind the traditional glass wall and uses video and sound to create an immersive environment (1, 1996/97, p. 5-6).

Other hall highlights include the electronic BioBulletin, sponsored by the New York Times Company Foundation and supported by NASA, which offers regularly updated information on events that affect biodiversity worldwide and the latest biodiversity research similar to the AstroBulletins in the Hall of the Universe and the Earth Events Wall in the Hall of Planet Earth (1, 1996/97, p. 5-6); the Spectrum of Life exhibit, which showcases the diversity of life resulting from 3.5 billion years of evolution with more than 1,500 specimens and models, from microorganisms to terrestrial and aquatic giants; a timeline of the five previous mass extinctions and species lost; the Endangered Species exhibit; the Resource Center, which presents two walls of exhibits which show the transformation of the biosphere and mass extinction created by human activity on one side and solutions on the other; a Dodo Bird skeleton; and glass models of protists created by Museum preparator Herman O. Mueller (2).


    (1) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1994/96-2000.
    (2) American Museum of Natural History. "Hall of Biodiversity," accessed May 12, 2017,
    (3) Hall of Biodiversity. American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY. May 12, 2017.
    Information for the hall appears in the following Museum publications:
    American Museum of Natural History Annual Reports for years 1994 (page 39); 1996 (page 5); 1997 (page 5); 1998 (page 9); 2000 (page 11); 2001 (page 25); 2006 (page 12); 2007 (page 50); 2009 (page 2)
    American Museum of Natural History Official Guide 2001 (page 60)


New YorkExternal link
AMNH: Floor 1, Section 9.

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Cracraft, Joel
Curator for the hall (1, 1994/96, p. 39).
Eldredge, Niles
Curator for the hall (1, 1994/96, p. 39).
Fisher, Emily
Donor for hall (1, 2000, p. 11).
Grifo, Francesca
Curator for the hall (1, 1994/96, p. 39).
Kamen, Harry P.External link
Museum trustee, Chairman of the Metropolitan Life Foundation, which provided funding for the hall (1, 1998/99, p. 9).
Metropolitan Life FoundationExternal link
Provided funding for the hall (1, 1998/99, p. 9).
Monsanto CompanyExternal link
Provided funding for the hall (1, 1998/99, p. 9).
Mueller, Herman Oskar
Artist for glass models of protists in hall (2).
National Science Foundation (U.S.)External link
Provided funding for hall (1, 1996/97, p. 5-6).
New York Times Company FoundationExternal link
Sponsor of hall's BioBulletins (1, 1996/97, p. 5-6).
Polshek Partnership ArchitectsExternal link
Architects for hall (1, 1994/96, p. 39).
Ralph Applebaum Associates
Design firm for hall (1, 1994/96, p. 39).
United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. (NASA)
Provides support for hall's BioBulletins (3).

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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