Skip to main content

Hayden Planetarium Memorabilia

Identifier: Mem 100

Scope and Contents

These materials are loosely grouped and described based on their nature and use. Their description may be fully refined as more is learned about them.

The Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History opened on October 3, 1935. Since its inception, the Planetarium has served as an educational and exhibition platform and as the face of the Department of Astronomy, known as the Department of Astronomy and American Museum-Hayden Planetarium after 1953. The Hayden Planetarium memorabilia consist of material that reflects the history of its physical space, the exhibitions, and the academic activities that took place there from approximately 1935 to 1997.

This grouping contains Art Deco architectural elements from the first Planetarium building. Pieces include stair rails, wall sconces, a capstone, and a marquee. Such elements allow for a visual image of how the infrastructure of the original space looked like since its opening until its rebuilding in 1997 as part of the Rose Center for Earth and Space.

Other materials include paintings, illustrations, sketches, photographs transparencies, mounted exhibit boards, directional signage, and panels. Some of the identified subjects were Nebulas and the Aztec sunstone, planet landscapes, moon phases, galaxy panorama, and sun cords. Most of these items were used in exhibitions such as the Hall of the Sun, opened in 1935 with the Planetarium, and for projections in the Guggenheim Space Theater, which replaced the Hall in 1971, and the Sky Theater’s space shows, inaugurated also in 1935 and closed in 1997.

Several models are also part of the memorabilia. Among them are the Mars Lander, Mars Rover, the Neptune Triton Lander, and the Mir Space Station. They were used in exhibitions and photographs for projections between the 1960s and 1997.

From 1936 to 1997, the Planetarium held introductory and advance courses in celestial navigation and star identification for the general public. During World War II, these classes served the national effort as instrumental education for service men of the United States Navy. The sextants used to teach these courses can be found here. Other educational items are also included, such as ephemera for sky shows programs and publications.

Finally, this grouping contains ephemera related to the 50th anniversary of the Planetarium in 1985, and the second appearance of the Halley’s Comet in 1986. Said ephemera consists of flyers, postcards, newspaper clip, publications Planetarium programs, commemorative plate and coin, pencils, and shirts.


  • Usage: circa 1935-1997



83 Items

Language of Materials


Custodial History

These materials were used in the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, for exhibitions and educational programs from approximately 1935 to 1997.There are also architectural elements that were part of the Planetarium original infrastructure until its rebuilding.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These materials were transferred from the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium.


The American Museum of Natural History : an introduction, 1972.American Museum of Natural History.

Official Guide to the American Museum of Natural History, 1980s. Georg Zappler.

General Guide to the Exhibition Halls of the American Museum of Natural History, 1945.

Annual report for the year 1935, 1936, 1940,1943

Rotunda 1994-1998

Hayden Planetarium: Authorities.


Much of the information about the molds collection was collected via an oral history interview with Thomas Baione and Joel Sweimler on January 2023. For its part the present narrative was based on annual records, guides, authority records of exhibitions and departments, and Rotunda.


Hayden Planetarium Memorabilia, circa 1935-1997
Camila Aguirre
March 29, 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

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