1936 - present
After the death of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt in 1919, former Museum president and later chairman of the Board of Trustees, Henry Fairfield Osborn, suggested plans for the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial. The hall’s façade, designed by John Russell Pope, was modeled on the triumphal arches of ancient Rome. Flanking the façade are bas-relief sculptures by Edward Field Sanford, Jr., directly in front is a bronze statue of Theodore Roosevelt by James Earle Fraser, and atop the façade are sculptures of Daniel Boone, John James Audubon, William Clark, and Merriweather Lewis (1).
After arriving through the façade, visitors enter the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda, which is an interior New York City landmark and now serves as the Museum's main entrance. The hall features quotes from Roosevelt’s writings and murals of his milestones in public service by William Andrew Mackay. After renovation the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Rotunda reopened in December 1991 featuring a scene with a 50-foot tall Barosaurus protecting its young from an Allosaurus (4; 5, 1987/88, p.1; 5, 1990/91 p. 1). The Rotunda is the former site of the Origami Christmas Tree erected during the holidays and has been home to other temporary exhibits, several of which are documented in images from the American Museum of Natural History Research Library's Digital Special Collections (5, 1960/61, p. 5; 6).
The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall, below the Rotunda on the first floor features dioramas including the Elkhorn Ranch in North Dakota, a waterfront scene of Dutch New York, a deer group in the Adirondacks, and the Bird Sanctuary in Oyster Bay, Long Island (5, 1938, p.2), which was part of the Local Birds exhibit (7, 1943, p. 96). Artists responsible for the dioramas in the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall were James L. Clark, Albert E. Butler, Hanson Puthuff, George Petersen, Gardell Christensen, James Perry Wilson, Fred Schrer, Francis Lee Jaques, Raymond B. Potter, Ludwig Ferraglio, Armin Schmidt, George Frederick Mason, and Robert Rockwell (8, 2006, p. 169). The Bird Sanctuary diorama moved to the third floor to become the Hall of New York City Birds, and the diorama remains a part of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall. The hall contained the New York State Exhibits, part of which would become the Hall of New York State Mammals and the Hall of New York City Birds (7, 1939, p.113).
In 1927, a narrow-width film was projected near the Adirondack deer group with the purpose of showing behaviors of the animals in the habitat group. It ran for 94 days with a count of 40,032 visitors having viewed it. This film exhibit was part of an effort to present visitors with new ways to learn about animal behaviors and was on display to the public before the hall's official opening in 1936.
The hall was re-envisioned in 2012 and reopened alongside the newly restored Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals, in which dioramas feature many animals and natural sites Roosevelt worked to protect and conserve. When it reopened, the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall presented new exhibits featuring Roosevelt’s life as a young naturalist, National Parks: America’s Best Idea, a film by Ken Burns, and a life-size, seated bronze statue of Theodore Roosevelt as he appeared in a 1903 camping trip to Yosemite with John Muir (9).
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