Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation at the American Museum of Natural History

New York, NY

In design

American Museum of Natural History

Cultural, Educational

195,000 sf

Targeting LEED Gold


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The latest addition to New York’s historic American Museum of Natural History, the Richard 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 big 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.”

—Jeanne Gang

01 / 02

Proposed facade, winter view

Proposed Columbus Avenue entry

The Central Exhibition Hall. © Studio Gang and MIR.

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.

The Central Exhibition Hall. © Studio Gang and MIR.

Informed by processes found in nature, the Central Exhibition Hall, which will serve as the Museum’s new 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, 3-D imaging, and big data assimilation and visualization, to gain a deeper understanding of our world and how science is conducted today.

Main features of the new building include the 21,000-square-foot, five-story Collections Core, housing millions of specimens and artifacts from the Museum's collection; the 5,000-square-foot Insectarium, the first Museum gallery specifically dedicated to insects in more than 50 years; the 3,400-square-foot Butterfly Vivarium, a year-round exhibit that doubles the space of the existing seasonal Butterfly Conservatory; and the 9,520-square-foot Invisible Worlds Immersive Theater, showcasing cutting-edge scientific technologies such as CT scanners, scanning electron microscopes, and high-resolution, high-speed cameras.

The Collections Core will house 3.9 million specimens, approximately 10 percent of the Museum’s collection.



New York Times — “American Museum of Natural History Releases Design of Gilder Center”

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.


New York Times — “American Museum of Natural History Plans an Addition”

The New York Times reports the American Museum of Natural History has selected Studio Gang to design the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation, an addition which will feature exhibitions, labs, and theaters.