Hall of BiodiversityAmerican Museum of Natural History

New York, New York

The beauty and diversity of life on Earth and the critical roles biodiversity plays in sustaining that life are the focus of the museum's first "issues hall." It alerts the public to the ecological crisis we face and the part humans are playing in the Sixth Mass Extinction—the current massive loss of biodiversity.

The Hall is organized around four questions: What is biodiversity? Why is it important? What are the threats to it? What is being done and what can I do?  Visitors are introduced to the twenty-eight major groups of life and the benefits and services we derive from them.  

In an adjacent case, examples of endangered and threatened animals from the museum’s collections as well as a skeleton of the extinct dodo remind us of what we stand to lose in this immense extinction episode.

Ecological biodiversity is explored at the Habitat Wall, a 60-foot-long video program, which surveys the Earth’s nine major habitats and underscores the threats to them. The 2,000-square-foot Dzanga-Sangha Rainforest is an immersive diorama that replicates a Central African rainforest, showing a hundred and sixty species of plants, animals, and insects. In it, digital imaging and environmental effects are combined with traditional techniques to create an advanced, vivid new kind of diorama. The Resource Center documents threats to life’s diversity, while the Solutions Wall explains how individuals and organizations are working to stop species and habitat loss.

The museum’s education program, including online educator guides, amplifies the hall’s message: the need to protect and preserve our planet’s biodiversity is the most pressing environmental issue of our time.

American Museum of Natural History
  • Society of Environmental Graphic Design Exhibition, Select Award Winners of the Last Decade

  • I.D. Annual Design Review, Design Distinction Award in Environments

  • Society for Environmental Graphic Design, Merit Award

  • Applied Arts Awards Annual, Environmental/Signage 

  • The Critics' Choice Awards, Travel + Leisure, Exhibition

  • Communication Arts, Award of Excellence for Environmental Graphics

© 2014, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Inc.