Hall of North American Forests
The Hall of North American Forests explores the ecology and variety of the forests of North America—from a northern spruce and fir forest of Ontario to a giant cactus forest in Arizona—in addition to highlighting the forest food web and presenting techniques for protecting forests.
The hall’s dioramas showcase typical wildlife in a range of locations—including a mixed deciduous forest in the Great Smoky Mountains, piñon and juniper forests of Colorado, and a coastal plain forest in South Carolina—with trees, flowers, birds, mammals, and insects specific to each habitat. The Forest Floor diorama depicts a cross-section of soil, enlarged to 24 times actual size, to illustrate the process by which natural debris is broken down into nutrients.
The hall also features a slice of a 1,400-year-old sequoia tree, underscoring the immense size and longevity of this species, as well as a display that illustrates how environmental stresses such as defoliation, windstorms, and fire can affect tree growth.
The giant sequoia offers a glance at more than 1,400 years of history. Until it was felled by lumberjacks in 1891, the tree from which the Museum's slice was taken stood in California more than 300 feet tall.
A forest floor is a busy place, full of decomposing debris and hungry bugs, beetles, and weevils. The Forest Floor Diorama combines artistry and education to show a precisely designed cross section of forest soil, enlarged to 24 times its actual size.
In 1917, the Museum displayed this huge model to educate the public about malaria and yellow fever. While president, Theodore Roosevelt played a key role in ending epidemics by lending his support to the then-controversial idea that the mosquito, not poor sanitation, spread the deadly diseases.