The American Museum of Natural History in New York is one of the largest and most famous natural history museums in the world. It houses an extensive collection of specimens and artifacts from various fields such as anthropology, astronomy, biology, and geology.
Have you ever wondered when this iconic museum was built? Let’s take a trip back in time to find out.
The idea for a natural history museum in New York City was first proposed by Albert S. Bickmore, a naturalist and educator, in 1869. He envisioned a museum that would showcase the natural wonders of the world and inspire people to appreciate and protect them.
In 1874, Bickmore’s vision became a reality when the American Museum of Natural History was founded. It was established by a group of prominent scientists, educators, and businessmen who shared his passion for natural history.
Fun Fact: The original name of the museum was the “American Museum of Natural History and Planetarium” but it dropped “and Planetarium” from its name later on.
The museum’s first home was in the Arsenal building in Central Park. However, it quickly outgrew this space and needed a larger location to accommodate its growing collection.
In 1877, construction began on a new building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The site chosen for the new museum was part of Manhattan Square Park, which had been set aside as public land for cultural institutions.
The construction of the new building took several years to complete due to funding issues and construction delays. However, it finally opened its doors to the public on April 27th, 1880.
The original building was designed by Calvert Vaux and J.W. Mould who drew inspiration from European natural history museums. It was built in the Romanesque Revival style and featured a grand entrance with a large staircase leading up to the main hall.
Over the years, the museum continued to expand its collections and needed additional space to display them. As a result, several new wings were added to the original building.
In 1891, the first of these wings, known as the West Wing, was added. This was followed by the East Wing in 1899 and the Central Pavilion in 1936. In total, the museum now covers over 2 million square feet of space.
Today, over 150 years after its founding, the American Museum of Natural History continues to inspire and educate visitors from around the world. Its collections have grown to include over 34 million specimens and artifacts and it remains one of New York City’s most popular attractions.
The Takeaway: The American Museum of Natural History was founded in 1874 and opened its doors to the public on April 27th, 1880. It was originally located in Central Park’s Arsenal building before moving to its current location on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Over the years it has expanded its collection and physical footprint but has remained true to its mission of inspiring people to appreciate and protect natural wonders.