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

New York, NY

Under Construction

American Museum of Natural History

Cultural, Educational

230,000 sf new construction and renovation

Targeting LEED Gold


The latest addition to New York’s historic American Museum of Natural History, the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation will embody the Museum’s integrated mission of science education and exhibition.

At a time of urgent need for better public understanding of science and greater access to science education, the Gilder Center will offer new ways to learn about our world and share in the excitement of scientific discovery.

The design for the Gilder Center reclaims the physical heart of the museum and completes connections between existing galleries that were originally envisioned in the museum’s campus master plan. 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 new Columbus Avenue entrance, will form a continuous, flowing spatial experience along an east-west axis. The design will encourage visitors to move beneath and across connective bridges and along sculpted walls with openings that reveal the Museum’s many programs.

Niche spaces tucked within this central space will house exhibition elements designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates and exciting new learning spaces, while also revealing more of the Museum’s extensive scientific collections. The public will be able to engage with innovative tools used by scientists to gain a deeper understanding of our world and how science is conducted today.

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A site model of the proposed renovation illustrates how the building will be inserted into the existing Museum campus (shown here in the lower center)

“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

Gilder Center Section Diagram, designed by Studio Gang

Creating approximately thirty connections among ten different buildings, the Gilder Center will include the five-story Collections Core, housing millions of specimens and artifacts from the Museum's collection; the Insectarium, the first Museum gallery specifically dedicated to insects in more than 50 years; the Butterfly Vivarium, a year-round exhibit that doubles the space of the existing seasonal butterfly conservatory; and the Invisible Worlds Immersive Theater, showcasing cutting-edge scientific technologies.

The building's caverns, bridges, and arching walls will be formed using an industrial application of concrete that showcases its liquid properties. This technique, primarily used for infrastructure, creates a continuous interior without material seams or joints that becomes structural as it cures. The interior of this exciting space will demonstrate the structural principles subject to gravity without the traditional waste of formwork.

Aerial photograph of the existing Museum campus.

Gilder Center Axon Diagram, a museum designed by Studio Gang

Consultant Team

Zubatkin Owner Representative, LLC, owner representative

Davis Brody Bond, executive architect

Ralph Appelbaum Associates, exhibition design

Arup, structural engineer, acoustical and audio visual consultants

Buro Happold, MEP/FP/façade consultant

Langan, civil and geotechnical engineer

Reed Hilderbrand, landscape architect

Pentagram, signage design

Tamschick Media + Space with Boris Micka Associates, theater design

Atelier Ten, sustainability

Renfro Design Group, lighting consultant

AECOM Tishman, construction manager


Jury Award, Unbuilt - Cultural, Architizer A+ Awards, 2020

High Commendation, AR Future Projects Awards, MIPIM/The Architectural Review, 2020

Winner, 67th Annual Progressive Architecture Awards, Architect Magazine, 2020

Winner, Archello, Best Projects of 2020

Honorable Mention, The Architect's Newspaper Best of Design Awards, Unbuilt – Cultural Category, 2019

Finalist, Future Projects - Culture Category, World Architecture Festival, 2019



New York Times — “Museum of Natural History’s New Science Center Takes Shape"

"Whereas the museum has always projected a kind of imposing, inscrutable majesty, its new building is consciously more porous, with welcoming floor-to-ceiling classroom windows...The center’s transparency also extends a hand to the museum’s neighbors."


Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation Wins 2020 Progressive Architecture Award

Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation Wins 2020 Progressive Architecture Award

Studio Gang's Gilder Center at the American Museum of Natural History was selected as a winner in the 67th Annual Progressive Architecture Awards, recognizing how the project uses design to draw connections between individual users and the communities around it.


Architectural Record — "Studio Gang’s Gilder Center Materializes at the American Museum of Natural History"

"A canyon-like atrium built of shotcrete highlights the long-awaited expansion."


Frame — "Museums Break Loose"

Gilder Center Interior Canyon View, a museum designed by Studio Gang

"The undulating extension will sit at the heart of the ten-building campus, creating approximately 30 new connections between the existing buildings as well as a vast new series of modern galleries, breathing new life into a sprawling complex."


New York Times — “Natural History Museum’s Expansion: Part Dr. Seuss, Part Jurassic Park”

American Museum of Natural History Gilder Center

New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman offers a fresh take on the American Museum of Natural History’s latest expansion designed by Studio Gang.


Studio Gang Wins Four 2020 Architizer A+ Awards

Gilder Center Interior Canyon View, a museum designed by Studio Gang

Three projects designed by Studio Gang have won four 2020 Architizer A+ Awards, which recognize the best architecture, spaces, and products from across the globe.