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Preparation Molds for Exhibits

Identifier: Mem 306

Scope and Contents

Molds for exhibits were created and used to prepare the models that compose the exhibits of the American Museum of Natural history, approximately from 1889 to the 1990s, first by the science departments and then by the Department of Exhibition and its different iterations. Models were meant to reproduce existing and extinct animal specimens, humans and cultural artifacts, insects and plant life. The types of mold that can be found in this grouping provide insight on the methods employed to achieve these reproductions and how they evolved throughout the years. Among the types of molds there are one-piece molds, piece molds, squeeze molds, vacuum-formed molds, irons, and cutting dies. Each type served different techniques,and were made of various materials such as plaster, latex, silicone and black toffee.

These molds have been loosely grouped and described based on the discipline they represent. Their description may be further refined as more is learned about them.


  • Usage: circa 1889-1990s



116 Items

Language of Materials



These materials were arranged in nine series: Series I: Botany, Series II: Ichthyology, Series III: Invertebrate Zoology, Series IV: Herpetology, Series V: Anthropology, Series VI: Mammalogy, Series VII: Ornithology, Series VIII: Vertebrate Paleontology, and Series IX: Unidentified.

Custodial History

Most of the objects were created and used by the Department of Exhibition and, before that, the science departments, in the process of building the exhibits of the American Museum of Natural History.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These materials were transferred from the Exhibition Department of the American Museum of Natural History.


Much of the information about the molds collection was collected via an oral history interview with Mauricio Genaro on November 1st, 2022. For its parts the dates were inferred through the annual records, the American Museum Journal, authority records of exhibitions and departments, and guide leaflets. The latter source also served majorly to identify the described techniques and types of molds.

Preparation Molds for Exhibits, circa 1889-1990s
Camila Aguirre
March 24, 2023
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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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