Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda
At its center, the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda features an iconic dinosaur exhibit: a dramatic representation of an imagined prehistoric encounter: a Barosaurus rearing up to protect its young from an attacking Allosaurus. The Barosaurus skeleton, which is the tallest freestanding dinosaur mount in the world, is composed of replica bones cast from actual fossils, which would be too heavy to support in this fashion. As part of the restoration of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, this display mount was divided in two, allowing visitors to walk between the famous combatants for the first time.
Quotations from Theodore Roosevelt’s writings are displayed on four walls under the headings Youth, Manhood, Nature, and The State. Three monumental canvases depicting milestones in Theodore Roosevelt’s public life, completed in 1935 by William Andrew Mackay, returned to view in October 2012 after extensive conservation. They are some of the largest indoor murals in a New York City public building, covering an area of more than 5,200 square feet.
The west mural, which hangs above the entrance to the Akeley Hall of African Mammals, depicts Roosevelt’s African expeditions in 1909 and 1910. The south mural illustrates the signing of the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1905 to end the Russo-Japanese War; for his role in resolving the conflict, Roosevelt was the first American awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The north mural portrays the building of the Panama Canal. Roosevelt is shown conferring with Chief Engineer John F. Stevens; next to Stevens, an army medical officer is depicted holding a test tube, an emblem of scientific research. As yellow fever swept Panama, Roosevelt lent his support to then-controversial findings that the mosquito, and not poor sanitation, spread the disease, saving thousands of lives. On the far right is a depiction of Roosevelt’s arduous expedition to map Brazil’s River of Doubt in 1914, on which he was accompanied by Museum naturalists.