The Nature of Color

March 9, 2020 — December 5, 2021


Free for Members. Timed entry only.
 4th Floor, LeFrak Family Gallery

Visitors stand in front of digital display and move their hands to "paint" with light in The Nature of Color exhibition.
Visitors in The Nature of Color will be encouraged to “paint” without the mess just by moving their hands in a floor-to-ceiling color play interactive.
R. Mickens/© AMNH
Our world is awash in color. 

Please note, some interactive and touchable exhibits are temporarily unavailable to maintain health and safety.

Color makes the world feel vibrant and alive. But that’s not all. Color helps us make sense of the world. It contains vast amounts of information—about the natural world, and the human world.

Come and explore the world of color in this immersive exhibition.

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Museum display shows the same flower in three different colors. R. Mickens/© AMNH

What You'll See in The Nature of Color

Color comes from light. What is light? Think of it as an electromagnetic wave, with every wavelength a different color. But all these colors are concealed in white light, like light from the Sun. Experiment with light in the white room and see what colors you can create.

Feeling Color

Which colors make you feel good? What colors do you find relaxing—or invigorating? Colors affect our mood, our perceptions, even our behavior. There’s plenty of evidence that colors inspire deep feelings in almost everyone. Step into the yellow room to explore how colors make you feel.

Living Color

Why did so many colorful plants and animals evolve? In many cases, their colorful displays help them survive and reproduce. In the green room, discover why some animals use eye-catching colors while others aim to blend into the background.

The Meaning of Color

Colors take on different meaning in different times and places. Red can convey a wide range of symbolic meanings including status, power, marriage, and affiliation with sports teams, the conservative Republican party in the U.S, and the Communist party in China. Find out about how colors can create shared identity and the many uses of red throughout human history, from cave art to college sports, in the red room.

Making Color

Some objects reflect only certain colors of light, while others make their own colored light. Find out how objects can produce color in many different ways, depending on how they interact with light, and how people have searched for pigments and dyes to make their lives more colorful, in the blue room.

The Museum gratefully acknowledges the

Richard and Karen LeFrak Exhibition and Education Fund.

Generous support for The Nature of Color has been provided by the Eileen P. Bernard Exhibition Fund.

The Nature of Color is generously supported by