The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) today broke ground on the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, the spectacular new facility that will add exhibition galleries, state-of-the-art classrooms, an immersive theater, and a redesigned library, reveal more of the Museum’s scientific collections, and link 10 Museum buildings to improve visitor flow throughout the campus. A groundbreaking ceremony for the 230,000-square-foot, $383 million project.
Architect Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang and exhibit designer Ralph Appelbaum of Ralph Appelbaum Associates also participated in the celebration. Ramon Pimentel, a graduate of the Museum’s Science Research Mentoring Program and a rising sophomore at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, as well as a delegation of New York City schoolchildren representing hundreds of thousands of young students who visit and learn at the Museum each year and will benefit importantly from the Gilder Center, also joined the celebration.
Featuring breathtaking architectural forms inspired by natural Earth processes, the Gilder Center will introduce visitors of all ages to current research through cutting-edge exhibitions and innovative education programs in dedicated learning zones. With new exhibitions that include a multi-story glass-walled Collections Core housing approximately 4 million scientific specimens, the Gilder Center will for the first time allow Museum visitors to see into working collections areas, revealing and underscoring the physical evidence that underpins scientific knowledge.
For the Gilder Center, the Museum will seek a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification—a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement—by deploying a range of innovative design strategies to reduce waste and conserve energy. Construction of the Gilder Center has started during the Museum’s 150th anniversary celebration, which began officially in March 2019. During the multi-year anniversary period, the Museum will realize a range of physical and programmatic initiatives inspired by a legacy of scientific exploration and education that serves as a crucial conduit between science and society.
These initiatives will elevate every aspect of the Museum’s activities, from engaging visitors in the wonders of the natural world to raising awareness about critical issues such as biodiversity and climate change to ensure that the Museum can continue to nourish the curiosity of generations of New Yorkers and millions of visitors from around the world onsite and online. Capping the 150th anniversary initiatives will be the opening of the Gilder Center.
The Gilder Center project will add several major new exhibition galleries and an immersive theater to the Museum; create a multi-story glass-walled Collections Core to allow visitors to better observe and understand the importance of scientific collections; expand public access to the Museum’s educational resources, including in an enhanced Research Library and Learning Center; and encompass the most comprehensive modernization of educational spaces in 90 years, with renovation of existing classrooms and the addition of several age-specific learning zones. Key spaces include:
• the Central Exhibition Hall, which will welcome visitors to the Museum with views through to new galleries and pathways into the heart of the campus; offer gathering spaces on a portion of a grand central staircase devoted to seating steps; and provide bridges to and connections between new and existing parts of the Museum, including the Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, which will open in Fall 2020;
• the Collections Core, housing approximately 4 million specimens, featuring observation points where, for the first time, visitors will be able to see into working collections areas;
• the Susan and Peter J. Solomon Family Insectarium, the first Museum gallery in more than 50 years to be dedicated to insects, the most diverse group of animals on Earth, comprising more than half of known organisms;
• a new Butterfly Vivarium, a breathtaking, year-round living exhibit that will offer a variety of opportunities to observe butterflies and their behaviors;
• the immersive Invisible Worlds Theater, designed by the Berlin-based Tamschick Media+Space and Seville-based BMA Boris Micka Associates to reveal the new frontiers of 21st-century science through scientific visualizations;
• a redesigned Research Library and Learning Center, which will be situated for easier access by the public and include a new scholars’ reading room, exhibition alcove, group study room, and adult learning zone. Source and images Courtesy of Studio Gang.