AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
OVERVIEW AND PROGRAMS 2006-2007
The American Museum of Natural History ("AMNH" or the "Museum") is a nonprofit, educational corporation, chartered in 1869 as a museum and library by a special act of the Legislature of the State of New York. The Museum is a member of the University of the State of New York under the auspices of the Regents of the State of New York and is accredited by the American Association of Museums.
The Museum was chartered for the purpose of "establishing and maintaining a Museum and Library of Natural History; of encouraging and developing the study of Natural Science; of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and to that end of furnishing popular instruction".
The Museum's related Planetarium Authority was chartered for "establishing and maintaining in New York City a planetarium upon a site provided by the authorities of such city adjacent to The American Museum of Natural History; and for the purpose of encouraging and developing the study of astronomical science; of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and to that end of furnishing popular instruction".
Since 2006, the Museum has been chartered "by the Board of Regents of the State of New York to confer the degrees of Doctor of Philosophy (PH.D.), and Master of Philosophy (M. Phil.) to duly qualified graduates completing registered curricula at the Graduate School of the American Museum of Natural History, and to award from the Graduate School the honorary degrees of Doctor of Science (D.SC.), Doctor of Laws (LL.D.), Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.) and Master of Humane Letters (L.H.M.) to those selected by the Board of Trustees."
In fiscal 2007, the Board of Regents of the State of New York amended the AMNH charter to establish a graduate school to grant the degree of Ph.D. (the first and only museum in the U.S. to grant a Ph.D. degree). The Richard Gilder Graduate School (the Graduate School) was thus established and in fiscal 2007 AMNH received pledges totaling $54 million designated for endowment to support the Graduate School. The Museum intends to apply for accreditation of the Graduate School from the Regents of the State of New York and expects to commence admission of students to its program in comparative biology for the 2008-09 academic year.
AMNH constitutes a complex, multifaceted organization with broad international scope and impact. For over a century, AMNH has been a leader in research in the natural sciences and anthropology, as well as in museum education and exhibition. The AMNH mission, which reflects a close integration of science and education, is "to discover, interpret, and disseminate through scientific research and education knowledge about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe."
The AMNH campus sits in the middle of the approximately 18 acre Theodore Roosevelt Park of the City of New York on Manhattans Upper West Side, with a complex of 27 interconnected buildings housing 45 permanent exhibit halls, a planetarium, temporary exhibition halls, research and collections facilities, and a library in the natural sciences, with parking and food service amenities for the convenience of visitors that totals 1.6 million square feet. The premises of AMNH are exclusively occupied by AMNH under grants or leases free of rent that endure indefinitely so long as used consistent with the Museums chartered purposes.
AMNH's award-winning exhibitions are displayed in 45 permanent halls and are supplemented throughout the year with special temporary exhibitions, most that are designed and built by AMNH staff. Millions of people from around the nation and the world visit AMNH annually. AMNH was voted the most popular family attraction in New York City and the third most popular family destination in the United States by the Zagat Survey U.S. Family Travel Guide (2004). The public can also find selections from the Museum's exhibitions displayed on the Museum's web site.
AMNH has a full-time scientific staff of approximately 225 that conducts research in genomics, astrophysics, zoology, paleontology, earth sciences, and anthropology. Its scientists also work worldwide to survey and study biological diversity and to mitigate threats to Earths ecosystems. AMNH scientists conduct research in the field on more than 120 expeditions each year, in state-of-the-art laboratories at the AMNH, and in the AMNH Library.
AMNH scientists steward collections of over 32 million specimens and artifacts. These collections increase an average of 90,000 specimens and artifacts a year. In addition, new collection areas include the AMNH frozen tissue collection of DNA and tissue samples and access to large scientific digital databases of genomic and astrophysical data.
To cultivate and train the next generation of scientists, AMNH has long conducted a doctoral and post-doctoral training program. Currently the program is a collaboration with five universities, serving approximately 100 students and trainees each year who are awarded their Ph.D. degree by their home university. AMNH will add Ph.D. candidates to this group with its own graduate school starting in 2008. In addition, the AMNH undergraduate training program provides a select number of undergraduate students with intensive research experience in such subjects as evolutionary biology, earth and planetary sciences, and astrophysics.
AMNH works closely with the formal K-12 education system to enrich school programs, train science teachers, and foster science literacy in New York City and across the country. More than 460,000 children visit each year in organized school groups and many more participate in programs that go beyond the Museums walls. Professional development programs provide over 6,700 educators a year with content knowledge in science and social studies. Many AMNH programs offer teachers the opportunity to earn certificates of continuing professional education and credits toward advanced degrees in science education through the City University of New York and other universities. Committed to lifelong learning, AMNH also offers the public a broad array of educational programs throughout the year for audiences of all ages.
AMNH further extends the reach of its educational programs through its auxiliary services. One service, Events and Conference Services, operates after-hours to bring the widest possible audience to Museum exhibitions. Another service, Content Dissemination, distributes across the country and around the world a wide array of AMNH educational content in the form of exhibitions, science bulletins, and planetarium shows to museums, science centers, and other venues. AMNH also distributes scientific publications, curriculum materials, and educational resource materials to schools, libraries, and community organizations.
Another auxiliary service is the AMNH educational tour program, AMNH Expeditions, which operates educational travel programs with Museum lecturers to foreign and domestic destinations related to the Museums collections, research, and educational programs. Finally, the Museum Shops are located on the AMNH premises and provide visitors a selection of books, videos, and utilitarian goods, especially from indigenous cultures, that are related to permanent and special Museum exhibitions and educational programs.
Primary sources of revenue and support for AMNH operating and capital needs include paid attendance, contributions and grants, funds from the City of New York for operating and capital needs, income from the endowment, auxiliary services, and membership.
Since the Museums founding in 1869, the world has witnessed a period of spectacular scientific achievement. During that period the Museum has played a leading role in exploration, discovery, and theoretical advances in the natural sciences. Central to these efforts has been the accumulation and growth of the Museums collections, and the research and publications they have inspired, derived from a commitment to world exploration. Initial expeditions set out from the Museum for many remote regions of the world, including the Congo Basin of Africa, central Asian deserts, and isolated islands of the Pacific.
Today, science at AMNH expands on these earlier accomplishments. The collections and research assets are cultivated by continued exploration with over 120 expeditions and field projects annually. Major projects are underway in Mongolia, Peru, Madagascar, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Vietnam, Mexico, Republic of Congo, Thailand, India, the Arctic area of Canada and Russia, New Guinea, and Australia.
New areas of collecting include the recently launched Ambrose Monell Cryo Collection for Molecular and Microbial Research, a frozen tissue collection for DNA and tissue samples. The collection has the capacity to house approximately one million samples. AMNH research also draws upon a scientific database comprising 45 Terabytes (45 trillion datums) of stored digital information that derives from collections, research results, and data on the observable universe and from molecular biology.
The work of scientific research, training, laboratory work, and collections management are partially funded by 14 different federal agencies including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. AMNH scientists engage in joint research and cooperative agreements with many U.S. and foreign universities and scientific institutions, including Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, University of Florida, Stanford, New York University, The Smithsonian Institution, University of California, The Carnegie Museum, The Royal Ontario Museum, City University of New York, The Australian Museum, and the Field Museum. AMNH also works in partnership with research institutes including NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The scientific staff publishes its work in major peer-reviewed journals at the rate of approximately 500 publications each year.
To cultivate and train the next generation of scientists, AMNH conducts a doctoral training and post-doctoral professional development program in collaboration with four universities: Cornell, Columbia, New York University, and the City University of New York. The collaborative program serves approximately 40 postdoctoral fellows and 60 students who complete a two-year course of study at their home universities and two or more years of independent research under the supervision of AMNH scientists, and then submit for their Ph.D. degree from their home university. The Richard Gilder Graduate School expects to commence admission of a discrete cohort of students to its Ph.D. program in comparative biology for the 2008-09 academic year.
The Museum also operates the following scientific institutes, centers and activities:
The Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics
EDUCATION, EXHIBITION, PUBLIC PROGRAMS
The Education Department offers programs, classes, and services fostering discovery, science literacy, and lifelong learning for audiences of all ages and backgrounds, both those able to visit AMNH and those far beyond its walls. These programs are delivered through the following centers:
The David and Ruth Gottesman Center for Science Teaching and Learning
The Museum feels a special responsibility to support and enrich the work of schools and is closely aligned to the public education system. This center provides a wide variety of programs to enhance school capacity by teaching schoolchildren, training teachers, and developing curriculum products that are tied to national science standards. The Gottesman Center provides service to over 460,000 schoolchildren who visit AMNH in school or camp groups annually. Approximately 190,000 or 29% of all New York City public elementary and middle school students visit free of charge on field trips each year. Instructors and volunteers guide groups through the halls and lead hands-on activities, and the AMNH provides comprehensive guides for teachers to prepare, conduct, follow up, and enrich their educational visits to the Museum.
During 2006/2007 the Gotttesman Center expanded its Urban Advantage program, a unique collaboration with six other New York City science-based institutions to prepare approximately 15,000 7th and 8th grade students for their required science "Exit Project." In addition, the Museum continued its Science Explorations collaboration with Scholastic, Inc. to introduce interesting stories of the work of the Museum's scientists to students throughout the country via Scholastic's in- school magazine and its web site.
The Gottesman Center also provides professional development programs that provide over 6,700 educators a year at all levels with content knowledge in science and social studies. Conferences, distance-learning seminars, evening lecture series, and graduate-level courses offer direct contact with scientists and content specialists, inquiry-based learning experiences, and standards-aligned resources. Many programs offer the opportunity to earn certificates of continuing professional education and credits toward advanced degrees in science education through the City University of New York.
National Center for Science Literacy, Education and Technology
The National Center for Science, Literacy, Education and Technology was established in 1997 with an $8 million grant from NASA to design, produce, and distribute programs and materials using a range of technologies that includes software, video, web sites, and print publications. Its educational content is distributed to the public, K12 science teachers, schools, and to families in their homes. The National Centers major content areas include:
AMNH offers a broad array of programs throughout the year for adult and family audiences. Lectures, curator talks, performances, classes, tours, and workshops complement and extend the themes of special exhibitions. The Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival is presented each fall and features films from around the world. Cultural programs geared to family audiences are held on weekends and include performances, workshops, films, and classes. Cultural programs that are held annually include Black History Month programs, Kwanzaa, and the Living in America series, which celebrates the culture and arts of a different ethnic group each year.
Other educational programs include after-school courses and the Moveable Museum program, customized, converted Winnebago vehicles outfitted as exhibition spaces with specimens, interactive computers, and exhibits which carry AMNH content out to the schools and communities. The four Moveable Museums currently in the "fleet" are The Paleontology of Dinosaurs, Structures and Cultures, Discovering the Universe, and Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries.
Programs for youth and families include the Science and Nature Program, which offers hands-on science activities for very young children and their parents or caregivers. AMNH also offers internships and intensive year-long (or multi-year) research experiences for New York City high school students. The Museum also recruits and trains New York City youth to work at the Museum as tour guides during the summer. Participants undergo training and education in everything from natural science and anthropology to leadership, public speaking, and discipline; develop their own thematic tours; and work as tour guides and role models to camp groups visiting AMNH.
AMNH develops, displays, and distributes award-winning temporary exhibitions on topics in science and culture while maintaining 45 permanent exhibition halls that provide a field guide to life on Earth, the cultures of humanity, and the latest discoveries in the cosmos. Exhibitions incorporate the display of specimens, artifacts, and scientific models; AMNH-produced high-definition video and photography; interactive hands-on exhibits; and diorama art, which AMNH pioneered.
Over the past thirteen years, AMNH built or renovated more than 12 permanent exhibition halls which incorporate the display of specimens, artifacts, and scientific models; AMNH-produced high-definition video and photography; interactive hands-on exhibits; and diorama art, which AMNH pioneered. AMNH exhibitions are open to the public 363 days a year.
During 2006/2007 the Museum opened the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Hall of Human Origins (2007), a permanent exhibition that presents the remarkable history of human evolution from our earliest ancestors millions of years ago to modern Homo sapiens, opened to the public on February 10, 2007. The Spitzer Hall, the successor to the Museums Hall of Human Biology and Evolution, combines up-to-date discoveries in the fossil record with genomic science to explore profound mysteries of humankind: where we came from, who we are, and what might lie ahead for the future of our species.
In addition the Museum produces special temporary exhibitions and planetarium shows and special displays (science bulletins) for exhibition on-site at AMNH and for travel to other museums. Examples of exhibitions now on display at AMNH or at other venues are:
GOLD - explores the geological and cultural history of this enduring icon of wealth, beauty and power.
Darwin - presents an extensive and in-depth array of material related to Charles Darwin's life and contributions to science, including an original copy of his seminal work, Origin of Species.
Lizards and Snakes: Alive! - an exhibition showcasing live lizards and snakes that explores concepts of conservation, evolution and extinction as they relate to these two fascinating species.
Dinosaurs! Ancient Fossils; New Discoveries - explores how the latest technology and discoveries made during the last decade are shedding new light on dinosaur traits and behavior.
Totems to Turquoise: Native North American Jewelry Arts of the Northwest and Southwest - explores the longstanding cultural traditions surrounding Native American jewelry arts, including the techniques, materials, and styles that have evolved over the past 100 years.
Petra: Lost City of Stone - an exhibition on the ancient city of Petra, and its creators, the Nabataeans.
Vietnam: Journeys of Body, Mind & Spirit - a presentation on Vietnamese culture in the early 21st century took visitors on a journey through this culturally diverse country of more than 50 ethnic groups.
Einstein - a comprehensive exhibition that profiles this extraordinary scientific genius. Exhibits include letters and personal effects; documents related to Einstein's scientific work including several rare manuscripts; and lucid, accessible explanations of Einstein's theories.
Pearls - an exhibition that examined the natural history of pearls, weaving science, art, literature, history, and magnificent jewelry into the story of pearls and the mollusks that form them.
The Genomic Revolution - through a range of exhibits that includes hands-on models, interactive stations, videos, films, polling stations, and artwork, this exhibition brings this subject to life by immersing visitors in the many aspects of genomic research from a scientific, technological viewpoint and from social and ethical perspectives.
The Nature of Diamonds - the geological and cultural story of the worlds most versatile and fascinating gem.