About This Hall
Each of the 43 dioramas in the stunningly restored Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals offers a snapshot of North America’s rich environmental heritage. The hall, which first opened in 1942, focuses on 46 mammal species ranging from the nine-banded armadillo to the white-tailed deer, and its dioramas are widely considered the finest in the world.
For more than a year, a team of artists, conservators, taxidermists, and designers worked to re-color faded fur, dust delicate leaves, and selectively restore the background paintings for the historic hall's reopening in October 2012. Text accompanying each diorama was updated to offer the latest scientific information about featured species.
Enter North America: a continent of contrasts, with mammals in every realm. Some are adapted to forests, some to deserts and others to icy peaks. In this hall, you can explore North America’s chief environments and encounter some of its remarkable residents face to face.
Each diorama shows an actual place on the continent, at one moment in time, with the plants and animals you’d see there. Many of the places are protected as refuges for wildlife, a legacy of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency in the early 1900s. Even now, those places still largely resemble their depiction in the dioramas—a tribute to that conservation effort.
Although brown bears don’t mingle much, these two have gathered at a stream near Canoe Bay, Alaska, lured by the first fish of the salmon run.
Moose are the largest deer in the world. The biggest moose of all live in Alaska, where males can top 1,700 pounds (770 kilograms) and grow antlers 6.8 feet (2.1 meters) wide.
This diorama is set in the mid-1800s, when the prairies teemed with tens of millions of bison. A few decades later fewer than a thousand remained.
In areas where wolves and cougars are still absent, coyotes act as top predators—although being smaller, they may scavenge as much big game as they catch.
Miniature models of mammoths and other ice-age mammals are depicted in two small dioramas at the entrance to the Hall of North American Mammals.