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Hall of Biodiversity, American Museum of Natural History

New York, New York

Hall of Biodiversity, American Museum of Natural History

The Hall of Biodiversity at the American Museum of Natural History was created to celebrate the great diversity and beauty of the natural world. As well as focusing on living species, the exhibit also tells the current story of mass global extinction, and how species are being lost at an alarming rate through increased human activity.

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Hall of Biodiversity, American Museum of Natural History_4

RAA conceived the Hall of Biodiversity around four key questions: What is biodiversity? Why is it important? What are the threats to it? What is being done and what can I do? In the first Spectrum of Life area, visitors are introduced to the 28 major categories of living things and the benefits 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 bird) remind us of what we stand to lose in this immense extinction episode.

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Hall of Biodiversity, American Museum of Natural History_2

Ecological biodiversity is explored at the Habitat Wall: a 60-foot-long video program that surveys the Earth’s nine major habitats and underscores the threats to them. The second area, the 2,000-square-foot Dzanga-Sangha Rainforest, is an immersive diorama that replicates a Central African rainforest, showing 160 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.

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The third area, the Resource Center, documents threats to life’s diversity. 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 one of the most pressing issues of our time.

Year 1998

Size 11,000 square feet

AwardsApplied Arts Award: Winner, Environmental/SignageCommunication Arts Design Award: Award of Excellence, Environmental GraphicsTravel + Leisure, Critics’ Choice Award: Winner, ExhibitionThe International Design Magazine (I.D.) Annual Design Review: Design Distinction Award, EnvironmentsSEGD Global Design Award: Merit Award, Exhibition Design/Museum Environments

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Photography ©Peter Mauss/Esto