Habitat dioramas are among the greatest treasures of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Each depicts a precise moment in time at a specific location, with native flora and fauna.
In the early twentieth century, the Museum raised awareness of wildlife conservation through groundbreaking habitat dioramas, which used scientific observation, art, and the latest exhibition technology to bring wilderness from all over the world directly before the public. Today, these dioramas are considered some of the most exceptional museum displays in the world.
Ornithologist Frank M. Chapman led the development of “habitat group” exhibits at the Museum, traveling some 90,000 miles to gather materials for the original Hall of North American Birds, which opened in 1902. Now known as the Leonard C. Sanford Hall of North American Birds, it was the first museum hall in the world dedicated to habitat dioramas.
Many of the new diorama techniques were developed by Carl Akeley, the taxidermist, explorer, conservationist, sculptor, and nature photographer who first conceived of the Museum’s Akeley Hall of African Mammals in 1909. It was here that painter James Perry Wilson devised his ingenious grid system for translating flat photos and sketches into undistorted landscapes on the curved diorama walls, a system he later used in dioramas of iconic halls, such as the Jill and Lewis Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals. Timeless moments in natural history have been captured in these works of art, educating generations of visitors about the natural world and the importance of conservation.
The American Museum of Natural History in New York City is one of the world’s preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions, drawing millions of visitors each year.
- Birds of South Georgia
- Caribou (Rangifer tarandus)
- Jaguar (Panthera onca)
- Life in the Ordovician Seas
- Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) and Antelope Jackrabbit (Lepus alleni)
- Great Egret (Ardea alba)
- African Lion (Panthera leo)
- Alaska Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)
- Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus)
- Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)
- Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei)
- Birds of Laysan Island
- White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum)
- Alaskan Moose (Alces alces)
- Water Hole
- Life in the Cretaceous Seas
- Gemsbok (Oryx gazella)
- Cougar (Mountain Lion) (Puma concolor)
- Dolphin (Delphinus delphis) and Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares)
- Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus)
- West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus)
- Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)