Report of the Chairman and President
The Museum continues to pursue and find modern ways of implementing its longstanding mission while advancing the strategic goal of meeting the needs and opportunities of society in the 21st century.
Museum scientists had many important research breakthroughs during this period, but one emblematic example was the identification of a critical, previously elusive link in the mammalian tree of life, to which a large number of Museum curators, postdoctoral fellows, and research associates contributed. This discovery reflects a number of exciting trends in scientific research, including multidisciplinary work involving scientists in international teams using high-tech tools along with traditional research methods. These trends are fundamentally reshaping how such investigations are done.
The work of our scientists underpins all that we do, particularly in education. Seeking to help address the crisis in science teaching, the Museum launched a pioneering Master of Arts in Teaching program during this period, and admitted its first cohort of 21 Kathryn W. Davis Teaching Fellows. Focusing on Earth and space science, this pilot program is co-developed and co-taught by Museum scientists and educators, and is the only unaffiliated program of its kind in an American museum. Joining our Richard Gilder Graduate School’s Ph.D. program in Comparative Biology, the Master’s program is testament to the Museum’s leadership in post-secondary education and in forging a new role for museums in the 21st century.
The Museum continues to be a popular destination, and visitorship during this period increased and diversified. Of some 5 million annual visitors, a substantial portion are visiting from outside the United States. The Museum’s international presence has been bolstered by a robust program of touring exhibitions and an expanding digital presence through www.amnh.org (which saw a major redesign during this period,) and through increased visibility on social media and other digital platforms.
This digital expansion has been made possible by the development of an institution-wide content management system, which corrals the vast trove of content that the Museum stewards and generates, and makes it available for use and presentation on multiple digital platforms.
The Museum has also undergone some highly visible on-site enhancements. In 2012, we unveiled the magnificent restoration of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial. The project encompassed the Central Park West façade, plaza, and main entrance; the soaring Roosevelt Rotunda welcoming visitors; and a new and refreshed exhibition presenting Roosevelt’s extraordinary legacy as a naturalist and our conservation president.
Allied with this restoration and depicting the wildlife and habitats that Roosevelt worked to protect, the Hall of North American Mammals reopened after a comprehensive and painstaking restoration of its historic dioramas, considered by many to be the finest in the world. This iconic hall now stands as a showcase for the Museum’s legacy—refreshed, accessible, and highly relevant to a 21st century world.
These are just a very few of the highlights of fiscal years 2012 and 2013. Many more are depicted throughout this report. Taken together, they underscore the Museum’s commitment to its underlying mission and work of pursuing scientific advancement, fostering a scientifically literate populace, and sustaining its role as a trusted guide for families, children, teachers, and the general public. Upon this foundation, the Museum continues to develop new tools to fuel scientific research; build innovative models for science teacher preparation, student achievement, and digital learning; and employ both the power of place and the profusion of digital technology to engage, deepen, and sustain a dialogue—on-site and online—around science, nature, and culture with our many, and growing, audiences.
Lewis W. Bernard