1. Dinoland at the 1964-5 New York World’s Fair: Museum Connections

    Fifty years ago today, the 1964−1965 New York World’s Fair opened at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. During the Fair’s two six-month runs, it drew over 50 million visitors to Queens to see a multitude of exhibitions showcasing technological innovations and international cultures.

    As noted in the New York Times last week, one of the highlights was the Dinoland pavilion, sponsored by Sinclair Oil Corporation, which featured nine life-size models of dinosaurs, including Brontosaurus (now  Apatosaurus), Triceratops, and a 20-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus rex, that loomed over enthralled visitors in a spectacular outdoor re-creation of a Jurassic environment. 

    image

    Tyrannosaurus rex from the Sinclair Oil Corporation Dinoland pavilion. Via Flickr/Karen Horton

    The towering sculptures were crafted out of fiberglass by wildlife artist Louis Paul Jonas, who earlier in his career had studied with naturalist and pioneering taxidermist Carl Akeley. Jonas had even helped create the African elephant group for the Museum’s Akeley Hall of African Mammals as well as sculptures for the Hall of Asian Mammals. To produce Dinoland’s fiberglass models, Jonas worked with another Museum luminary: the then-89-year-old Barnum Brown, the fossil hunter who had discovered T. rex at the turn of the 20th century.

    Click here for a video about Barnum Brown. 

    By the early 1900s, Brown had gained fame as a great dinosaur collector (and as a snappy dresser), sending back more then 1,200 crates of fossils back to the American Museum of Natural History from far-flung expeditions. (For more about Brown’s incredible life and career, read the 2010 book Barnum Brown: The Man Who Discovered Tyrannosaurus Rex by Museum Curator Mark Norell, chair of the Division of Paleontology, and Research Associate Lowell Dingus.) 

    image

    By the time preparations for the 1964 New York World’s Fair were getting under way, Brown had become a bona fide celebrity, hosting a weekly CBS radio broadcast and consulting on Walt Disney’s Fantasia. As the man who had introduced American audiences to dinosaurs and fossil hunting, and as the curator of vertebrate paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History, Brown was the natural choice to consult on Dinoland, an attraction designed to bring together then-recent scientific discoveries with the spectacle of a prehistoric world populated by dinosaurs.

    While working on the exhibition, Brown traveled frequently to Louis Paul Jonas’s studio, in Hudson, NY. Unfortunately, Brown did not live to see Dinoland become a reality; he died shortly before the opening of the World’s Fair on April 22, 1964.

    image

    Brown measuring the femur of Tyrannosaurus rex, 1938 (AMNH Vertebrate Paleontology Archive, 5:6 Portrait box)

    Today, Brown’s legacy continues not just in the fossil halls of the Museum—where no fewer than 57 of the specimens on display are his discoveries—but in the in the worldwide love of dinosaurs and paleontology that he helped to spark.

  2. On April 28, New York-based artists Alexis Rockman and Mark Dion will share how the Museum’s Library collections have influenced their work. Library Director Tom Baione hosts the event to mark the launch of a new online database of digital images from the Museum Library’s collections.

Browse the rich collection of digitized archives and find what inspires you!

Image credits (from top left, clockwise)
-Bear (Mark Dion):Courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York-Rice, H. S. and Dutcher, Irving, “Children viewing Polar Bear Group, 1927.”-Forest floor (Alexis Rockman):Courtesy the artist and Sperone Westwater Gallery, New York-Rota, Alex J., “Installing models for the Forest Floor exhibit, 1958.”

    On April 28, New York-based artists Alexis Rockman and Mark Dion will share how the Museum’s Library collections have influenced their work. Library Director Tom Baione hosts the event to mark the launch of a new online database of digital images from the Museum Library’s collections.

    Browse the rich collection of digitized archives and find what inspires you!

    Image credits (from top left, clockwise)

    -Bear (Mark Dion):
    Courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York
    -Rice, H. S. and Dutcher, Irving, “Children viewing Polar Bear Group, 1927.”
    -Forest floor (Alexis Rockman):
    Courtesy the artist and Sperone Westwater Gallery, New York
    -Rota, Alex J., “Installing models for the Forest Floor exhibit, 1958.”

  3. As Slate pointed out, the internet loves crappytaxidermy. While we may not have much to contribute to that illustrious canon, we do know taxidermy. Our video "Modeling Animals in Habitat Dioramas" about how artists create the animal sculptures for the Museum’s famous habitat dioramas, shows what it takes to create a meticulously accurate specimen. 
Watch the video.

    As Slate pointed out, the internet loves crappytaxidermy. While we may not have much to contribute to that illustrious canon, we do know taxidermy. Our video "Modeling Animals in Habitat Dioramas" about how artists create the animal sculptures for the Museum’s famous habitat dioramas, shows what it takes to create a meticulously accurate specimen. 

    Watch the video.

  4. From the Archives: African Botanical Illustration
A botanical illustration by Arthur August Jansson used as a reference for the Serengeti Plain Group in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals. (1926) AMNH/art_002_b2_04a

    From the Archives: African Botanical Illustration

    A botanical illustration by Arthur August Jansson used as a reference for the Serengeti Plain Group in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals. (1926) 

    AMNH/art_002_b2_04a

  5. A forest floor is a busy place, full of decomposing debris and hungry bugs. This diorama shows a cross section of soil, magnified 24 times actual size, allowing us to get a closer look at the most densely populated stratum of an oak-hickory forest. 
Learn more about this and other dioramas in the Hall of North American Forests.

    A forest floor is a busy place, full of decomposing debris and hungry bugs. This diorama shows a cross section of soil, magnified 24 times actual size, allowing us to get a closer look at the most densely populated stratum of an oak-hickory forest. 

    Learn more about this and other dioramas in the Hall of North American Forests.

  6. From the Archives: various species of fish from Renard’s Poissons, écrevisses et crabesIn an effort not to disappoint Europeans who saw collections of preserved tropical fish lacking their brilliant colors, Louis Renard (1678-1746) compiled the book Poissons, with fancifully colored engraved plates depicting fish and crustaceans from the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).Learn more.

    From the Archives: various species of fish from Renard’s Poissons, écrevisses et crabes

    In an effort not to disappoint Europeans who saw collections of preserved tropical fish lacking their brilliant colors, Louis Renard (1678-1746) compiled the book Poissons, with fancifully colored engraved plates depicting fish and crustaceans from the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).

    Learn more.

  7. Flying fish in the dolphin and tuna diorama, Milstein Hall of Ocean Life

    Flying fish in the dolphin and tuna diorama, Milstein Hall of Ocean Life

  8. “Drawing of proposed African Hall, 1925”
For more images from the archives, browse the Picturing the Museum collection.
AMNH Library/310891

    “Drawing of proposed African Hall, 1925”

    For more images from the archives, browse the Picturing the Museum collection.

    AMNH Library/310891

  9. Before the Andros coral reef diorama was installed in the Museum’s Hall of Ocean Life, scientists and artists did extensive research in the field. Artists even used waterproof paints to draw and document the underwater scene.
See footage from the 1930s in the latest DIORAMA video from PBS Digital Studios.

    Before the Andros coral reef diorama was installed in the Museum’s Hall of Ocean Life, scientists and artists did extensive research in the field. Artists even used waterproof paints to draw and document the underwater scene.

    See footage from the 1930s in the latest DIORAMA video from PBS Digital Studios.

  10. Need a break from the cold? Head to the Bahamas to see how artists and scientists created the Andros Coral Reef diorama.
Watch the latest video in the DIORAMA series, a collaboration with PBS Digital Studios .

    Need a break from the cold? Head to the Bahamas to see how artists and scientists created the Andros Coral Reef diorama.

    Watch the latest video in the DIORAMA series, a collaboration with PBS Digital Studios .