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American Museum of Natural History, Department of Preparation and Installation: Diorama and Hall construction

Identifier: DR 104

Scope and Content Note

This collection spans the planning and development of the Department of Preparations for the dioramas of the various halls. These folders detail the requests and expenditures for the efforts made in travel, models, and sketches. The majority of the correspondence is directed from or to James L. Clark, the Director of the Department of Preparations between the 1930’s-1940’s. Much of the correspondence from James Lippit Clark, is directed to trackers, guides, taxidermists, donors, and designers. There are several photographs, sketches blueprints and designs as well as written goals for the development, population and display of the diorama halls. This collection also includes information on the donors and design models for the display for various animals and their natural habitats. The Department of Preparations activities and actions based on this collection are inclusive of the following halls: African Mammal Hall, Asian Mammal Hall(s), Australian Wing, Felix M. Warburg Memorial Halls (Forestry Halls), Fossil Halls (Dinosaur Halls), Hall of Geology, Insect Hall, Invertebrate Hall, Hall of Man, Mexican Hall, New York State Birds, North American Bird Hall, North American Mammal Hall, Hall of Ocean Life, Primate Hall, South American Hall, Temporary Exhibits.

The field notes contained within this collection range in depth and detail. Overall the field notes give estimates for the use, cost and necessity of supplies for the collection storage, shipping and taxidermy of various specimens.


  • 1919-1962



Please contact Special Collections; materials are sometimes restricted.

Biographical Note

James Lippit Clark (1883-1969) was a distinguished explorer scientist and artist of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and a former president of the Campfire Club of America. He was co-director of the Morden-Clark Asiatic Expedition and, for a number of years, he explored with Carl Akeley in Africa. Born in Providence, Rhode Island, in November of 1883, Clark’s main focus of study included taxidermy, animal sculpture and exploration. Clark was first employed at the Museum from 1902 to 1908, and again from 1923 to 1969. In 1933, the West Virginia Wesleyan College awarded Clark the honorary degree of Doctor of Science. He participated in more than twenty expeditions around the world. Clark’s published books include the Trails of the Hunted and Recreating the American Wilderness. As an expert taxidermist, Clark was instrumental with many of the more notable diorama productions at the American Museum of Natural History, many of which are currently on display. He was also a gifted sculptor of wild animals


3.5 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

The collection is organized into seventeen series, alphabetical by Hall name and chronological within the series unless otherwise noted: Series I: African Mammal Hall, 1929-1933 Series II: Asian Mammal Hall(s), 1924-1946 Series III: Australian Wing, 1938-1944 Series IV: Felix M. Warburg Memorial Halls (Forestry Halls), 1937-1962 Series V: Fossil Halls (Dinosaur Halls), 1951-1956 Series VI: Hall of Geology, 1943 Series VII: Insect Hall, 1923-1952 Series VIII: Invertebrate Hall, 1952 Series IX: Hall of Man, 1942 Series X: Mexican Hall, 1941-1943 Series XI: New York State Birds, 1955-1956 Series XII: North American Bird Hall, 1939 Series XIII: North American Mammal Hall, 1923-1946 Series XIV: Hall of Ocean Life, 1927-1945 Series XV: Primate Hall, 1929 Series XVI: South American Hall, n.d. Series XVII: Temporary Exhibits, 1939-1942

Some arrangement for this collection was started in 1991. Notes indicate that the papers were organized by Hall and by diorama. Unable to determine an original order, the new system of arrangement is a refinement of the previous effort. Folder names were retained with the exception for updating dates and content information. Materials within the folders were arranged chronologically with undated records stored at the end of the folders from which they were originally contained.

Source of Acquisition Note

Transferred from the Department of Exhibition by Rose Wadsworth, 11/29/1983


Fair. Some of the papers inside this collection are thin so they can be considered delicate. For these thin or fragile pieces it is recommended that they be handled with care for reasons of conservation. Most of the photographs in this collection have been placed in polyester sleeves to prevent deterioration from use (July-August 2011)

Related Archival Materials Note

Related material for the construction of the Hall of North American Forests can be found in AMNH Library Special Collections, call number DR094. Title: American Museum of Natural History Department of Preparation and Installation notebook, 1955-1956.

Additional materials can be viewed on this subject in the form of illustrations in “American Ornithology or The Natural history of the birds of the United States” available in: RF-103-Ato RF-103-C&RF-104-A to RF104-Aa Other related materials are available in the form of color studies, drawings, contained in approximately 5 boxes. Materials in this collection were used in the creation of Akeley Hall of Africa Mammals, North American Hall of Mammals, as well as the Asian Hall of Mammals. This collection is comprised of three boxes that include works by: Arthur August Jansson, Robert Kane, James L. Clark, Frederick Scherer and Fred Mason. The record can be accessed using the following call numbers: Art002 and Art003

James L. Clark visual resources and working files include photographs, handwritten notes, drawings, clipped and printed images, and other material predominately used for the research, creation, and production of the exhibitions for the American Museum of Natural History, particularly with the dioramas in the African, Asian, and North American Halls of Mammals, as well as the Whitney Hall of Birds. Call numbers: PPC .C532 and PPC .C533

Physical Description

This collection consists of: correspondence letters, receipts, newspaper clippings, bulletins, photographs, glass plate slide, negatives, magazines, script, blueprints, schematic/floor plans, and organic matter samples, black & white photographs, serials, blueprints/diagrams, and sketches.

47 black and white photographs, 41 sketches, 8 blueprints/diagrams and 6 serials, 1 glass plate negative, 1 script

American Museum of Natural History, Department of Preparation and Installation: Diorama and Hall construction, 1919-1962
Michael A. Floyd
August 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Language of description note
The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation provided support to make this finding aid available in ArchivesSpace (2016-2017). Finding aid created with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Hidden Collections grant, 2010.

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
200 Central Park West
New York NY 10024 USA
(212) 769-5420