1958 - present
Biographical or Historical Note
- Permanent exhibition. Opened Spring 1958. Located on Floor 1, Section 5. The Hall of North American Forests at the American
Museum of Natural History explores the ecology and variety of the Forests of North America from Canada to Mexico. Curators
and scientists that contributed to the planning and installation of the hall included George H. Childs, scientific artist
and curator in Invertebrate Zoology and Aquatic Biology, Richard H. Pough, chairman of the Department of Conservation and
General Ecology, and Jack McCormick, in charge of Vegetation Studies and author of the companion book for the hall, The Living
Forest. Gordon Reekie and Alice Gray contributed to the installation of exhibits. Artists that created the hall's dioramas
included George Adams, John Babyak, Walter Blache, Raymond Bermudez, Lewis Brown, Gardell Christensen, Seymour Couzyn, Raymond
deLucia, Anthony Faranda, Francis Lee Jaques, Freidoun Jalayer, James Hagenmeyer Studio, Jonas Brothers, Inc., Denver, Jonas
Brothers, Inc., New York, Jonas Brothers, Inc., Seattle, Robert Kane, Alan Munro, Tomas Newbery, Joseph Nocera, George Petersen,
Paul Richard, Reginald "Buddy" Sayre, Schwendeman's Taxidermy Studio, Charles Tornell, and James Perry Wilson. Support for
the hall was provided by Mr. and Mrs. Robert D. Sterling. Curator and zoologist T. Donald Carter collected specimens for dioramas
(1, 1952/53, p. 45; 1, 1956/57, p. 24; 1, 1957/58, p. 7, 20, 44, 49; 1, 1958/59 p. 57; 1, 1970/71, p. 3).
Construction for the Hall of North American Forests began on November 1, 1948. The halls were originally planned as a trio
that included a Botany Hall, which was never built (1, 1948/49, p. ). The Hall of North American Forests were intended
to have explanatory, instructive exhibits as well as dramatic, aesthetically-pleasing habitat dioramas (1, 1957/58, p. 9).
At the opening of the hall, the exhibits included Maple Syrup-Making in the Catskills 1870, The Vegetation of Middle North
America (map), The Forest River-Bottom to Hilltop (mural), Fire in the Forest, How Nature Harvests the Forest, Forest Tree
Diseases, Forest Insects, How Man Harvests the Forest, Forest Protection, Multiple Use of Forest Lands, How We Use Our Timber,
Forest Soils, and Weather in the Forest (2, 1958, p. 220-23).
The highlights of the hall include an enlarged model of the Anopheles Mosquito, originally exhibited in the Hall of Public
Health and Life of the Forest Floor, a display case 24-times enlarged with a giant millipede, earthworm, daddy longlegs, and
carpenter ant. This hall also houses the Big Tree or Giant Sequoia, a section of the Mark Twain Tree, which began growing
around A.D. 550 and was cut down in 1891 in the Big Stump Basin in Kings Canyon National Park. The section weighs 9 tons and
has 1,342 annual rings with markers for major historical events (2, 1958, p. 220-232; 3, 1993, p. 26; 3, 2001, p. 51; 4).
The forest habitat dioramas are as follows:
Early October in Southern New Hampshire
Giant Cactus Forest
Jeffery Pine Forest
Mixed Deciduous Forest
Northern Spruce-Fir Forest
Oak Hickory Forest
Southeastern Coastal Plain Forest
Timberline in the Northern Rocky Mountains (5, 2006, p. 168)
(1) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1948/49-1970/71.
(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, 1958.
(3) American Museum of Natural History. Official Guide: Images from around American Museum of Natural History. New York: American
Museum of Natural History, 1993-2001.
(4) American Museum of Natural History, "Hall of North American Forests," accessed May 14, 2017, http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/permanent-exhibitions/biodiversity-and-environmental-halls/hall-of-north-american-forests.
(5) Quinn, Stephen C. Windows on Nature: The Great Habitat Dioramas of the American Museum of Natural History. New York: Abrams;
New York: American Museum of Natural History, 2006.
Information for the hall appears in the following Museum publications:
American Museum of Natural History Annual Reports for years 1948 (page ); 1950 (page 5, 35); 1951 (page 6, 32-33); 1952
(page 45, 50); 1953 (page 5, 53); 1954 (page 50); 1955 (page 42); 1956 (page 24, 36-38); 1957 (page 3, 6-7, 9-11, 20, 44-45,
49, 54); 1958 (page 34, 57); 1962 (page 3); 1970 (page 3); 1975 (page 31)
American Museum of Natural History General Guides for years 1953 (Table of Contents, page 215); 1956 (Table of Contents, page
215); 1958 (Table of Contents, page 220); 1962 (page 12, 19); 1964 (page 12, 18-19)
American Museum of Natural History: Pictorial Guide, 1967
American Museum of Natural History: An Introduction, 1972
American Museum of Natural History Official Guides for years 1984 (page 35); 1993 (page 26, 50); 2001 (Table of Contents,
page 51, 60)
- New York
AMNH: Floor 1, Section 5.