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The Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life highlights the drama of the undersea world and its diverse and complex web of life in a fully immersive marine environment. The hall is home to one of the Museum’s most celebrated displays—a 94-foot-long, 21,000-pound model of a blue whale suspended from the ceiling.

It was in the ocean about 3.5 billion years ago that the first life on Earth arose. Today, the planet’s oceans are home to an amazing diversity of life in a wide range of habitats, from tropical coral reefs to the frigid polar seas. Still, many parts of the ocean are poorly known, and less than 5 percent of the deep ocean has been explored. For every new species, there may be hundreds more yet to be discovered.

The 29,000-square-foot hall features models of more than 750 sea creatures, ranging from tiny green bubble algae to computerized glowing jellyfishes. The hall also includes high-definition video projections, interactive computer stations, hands-on models, 14 classic dioramas, and eight ocean ecosystem displays that transport visitors from the profusion of life in the Indo-Pacific coral reefs to the bioluminescent fishes in the eerie darkness of the deep sea.

Hall Highlights


The Giant Blue Whale Model

At 94 feet long, the fiberglass replica of a female blue whale is a Museum treasure. Blue whales have been hunted to near extinction. Today, the Museum's blue whale serves as a reminder of our responsibility to our environment, both on land and in the sea.


Andros Island Barrier Reef

Off Andros Island in the Caribbean, corals form one of the largest barrier reefs in the world. Andros is created by colonies of small, soft-bodied coral polyps whose hard skeletons form much of the structure of a reef.


Sperm Whale and Giant Squid

The squid and whale diorama depicts a sperm whale clashing with its prey, a giant squid. The giant squid had never been seen in its natural habitat until 2005, when researchers got footage of an adult giant squid in the wild.



The walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) is known for its ivory tusks. By hooking these tusks into ice floes, walruses haul themselves out of the water. These teeth are also displayed to intimidate and used to joust for territory.


Whale Shark

Don’t be fooled by the “whale” in this animal’s common name: that’s a nod to the size of this species of shark. Sharks are not mammals, like whales, but are a group of fishes. Whale sharks, which can grow to more than 40 feet in length, are the world’s largest living fish.


Dolphin and Tuna Diorama

Did you know that dolphins—along with porpoises—are whales? In fact, the killer whale is the largest dolphin! Like other mammals, dolphins give birth to live young and breathe air, surfacing regularly to breathe through the blowhole on the top of their heads.

Irma and Paul Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life

American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Phone: 212-769-5100

Open daily from 10 am-5:45 pm
except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
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