Meet the Curators

Part of the Mythic Creatures exhibition.


Mark A. Norell, Co-Curator, Mythic Creatures; and Curator, Division of Paleontology

Mark A. Norell specializes in research on the evolutionary relationship between small meat-eating dinosaurs and present-day birds. He is one of the team leaders of the joint American Museum of Natural History/Mongolian Academy of Sciences annual expedition, which was launched in 1990, to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. With the discovery of new, extraordinarily well-preserved fossils in Mongolia and China, Dr. Norell and the team have generated new ideas about bird origins and the groups of dinosaurs to which modern birds are most closely related. Dr. Norell was one of the Gobi Desert Expedition team members who, in 1993, discovered Ukhaa Tolgod, one of the world's richest Cretaceous vertebrate fossil sites. Among Dr. Norell's discoveries are the primitive avialian Mononykus, the first embryo of a meat-eating dinosaur ever uncovered, and an oviraptorid found nesting on a brood of eggs. This dinosaur find is the first fossil to show definitive evidence of brooding among nonavian dinosaurs; in addition, it reveals behavioral similarities between extinct dinosaurs and modern birds that reinforce their evolutionary link. Dr. Norell was also part of the team of scientists who, in 1998, announced the discovery in northeastern China of two 120-million-year-old dinosaur species, both of which show unequivocal evidence of true feathers. Dr. Norell came to the American Museum of Natural History in 1989 from Yale University, where he was a lecturer in the Department of Biology. In 1988 he earned his Ph.D. in biology from Yale, where, since 1991, he has been Adjunct Assistant Professor of biology.


Laurel Kendall, Co-Curator, Mythic Creatures; and Curator, Division of Anthropology

Laurel Kendall, an anthropologist who specializes in Korean cultural studies and whose work includes China and Vietnam as well, has written extensively on shamanism, issues of gender, and, more recently, the cultural constructions of "tradition," "modernity," and "magic." She was project co-curator for Vietnam: Journeys of Body, Mind, and Spirit, a collaborative project undertaken between AMNH and the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, for which Kendall was awarded a Friendship Medal by the Vietnamese government. She was also director of the Museum's centenary celebration of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition in 1997, which included the exhibition Drawing Shadows to Stone: Photographing North Pacific Peoples, 1897-1902 (1997-1998), and was the Museum's curator for the exhibition Meeting God: Elements of Hindu Devotion (2001-2002). In addition to her work at the American Museum of Natural History, she is currently Adjunct Professor, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University, and is President-Elect of the Society for East Asian Anthropology Section of the American Anthropological Association. Dr. Kendall received her Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University. Recent books include The Museum at the End of the World: Encounters in the Russian Far East (2004); Vietnam: Journeys of Body, Mind, and Spirit (2003); Under Construction: The Gendering of Modernity, Class, and Construction in the Republic of Korea (2001); Getting Married in Korea: Of Gender, Morality, and Modernity (1996); The Life and Hard Times of a Korean Shaman: Tales and the Telling of Tales (1988); and Shamans, Housewives, and Other Restless Spirits: Women in Korean Ritual Life (1985).


Richard Ellis, Co-Curator, Mythic Creatures; and Research Associate, Division of Paleontology

Richard Ellis is one of America's leading marine conservationists, and is generally recognized as the foremost painter of marine natural history subjects in the world. His paintings have appeared in exhibitions and in publications including Audubon, Australian Geographic, the Encyclopedia Britannica, National Geographic, and National Wildlife, among others. One hundred six of his paintings were selected by the Smithsonian Institution to form a traveling exhibit of the marine mammals of the world, which are now in the permanent collection of Whaleworld, a museum in Albany, Western Australia. Advisor on many museum installations, he completed a 35-foot-long whale mural for the Denver Museum of Natural History and a 100-foot-long mural of Moby Dick for the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts. The long list of Ellis' books includes The Book of Sharks; The Book of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises; Great White Shark; Men and Whales; Physty; Monsters of the Sea; Deep Atlantic; Imagining Atlantis; The Search for the Giant Squid; Encyclopedia of the Aquagenesis: The Origin and Evolution of Life in the Sea; The Empty Ocean; Sea Dragons: Predators of Prehistoric Oceans; Tiger Bone & Rhino Horn: The Destruction of Wildlife for Traditional Chinese Medicine; and Singing Whales and Flying Squid: The Discovery of Marine Life. Ellis has appeared in numerous television specials, and has written on whales for PBS.