New York, NY
American Museum of Natural History
Targeting LEED Gold
The latest addition to New York’s historic American Museum of Natural History, the Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation embodies the museum’s integrated mission of science education and exhibition.
At a time of urgent need for better public understanding of science and for greater access to science education, the Gilder Center offers new ways to learn about our world and to share in the excitement of scientific discovery.
“We uncovered a way to vastly improve visitor circulation and museum functionality, while tapping into the desire for exploration and discovery that is so emblematic of science and also such a part of being human. Upon entering the space, natural daylight from above and sight lines to various activities inside invite movement through the Central Exhibition Hall on a journey toward deeper understanding. The architectural design grew out of the museum’s mission.”
The design for the Gilder Center reclaims the physical heart of the museum and completes connections originally envisioned in the museum’s campus master plan between existing galleries and the new addition. Visitor circulation is enhanced to better accommodate the museum’s rising annual attendance, which over the past several decades has grown from approximately 3 to 5 million.
Informed by processes found in nature, the central exhibition hall, which will serve as the museum’s Columbus Avenue entrance, forms a continuous, flowing spatial experience along an east-west axis. Visitors are encouraged to move beneath and across connective bridges and along sculpted walls that house the museum’s many programs.
Niche spaces tucked within this central space will house exhibition elements designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, as well as laboratories, imaging facilities, visualization theaters, and classrooms while also revealing more of the museum’s extensive scientific collections. The public will be able to engage with innovative tools used by museum scientists, such as the tools used for gene mapping, 3D imaging, and big data assimilation and visualization, to gain a deeper understanding of our world and how science is conducted today.
New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman took a look at the Studio Gang–designed Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation at the American Museum of Natural History.