Opulent Oceans

Now Open

Included with any admission.
Floor 4, Gilder Center, outside the Gottesman Research Library

Museum visitors enter an open walkway that has a railing on the left and walls on the right that display large vintage illustrations of ocean life.
Daniel Kim/© AMNH
The world's oceans abound with a truly astonishing diversity of life forms.

Some 400 years ago, European scientists began traveling the globe, and what they saw on these voyages expanded the Western world's knowledge of ocean life as never before.

To create the images on display in this gallery, some naturalists sketched their own specimens, and others collaborated with artists and engravers. The result: illustrations that communicate the anatomy, life cycles, habits—and sheer beauty—of newfound marine species.

Reserve Tickets »
Included with any admission.

Illustration depicts the dorsal view of the Antarctic octopus, emphasizing its bulbous head and the suckers on its eight tentacles. Antarctic octopus  Engraver Fritz Winter prepared this illustration of an Antarctic octopus for publication in German zoologist Cark Chun's Aus den Tiefen des Weltmeeres: Schilderungen von der Deutschen Tiefsee-Expedition (From the depths of the world’s oceans: description of the German Deep-Sea Expedition). 
Roderick Mickens/© AMNH
These vibrantly colored tropical wrasses of the genus Halichoeres were illustrated by noted American ichthyologist David Starr Jordon for The fishes o Tropical Wrasses  These vibrantly colored tropical wrasses of the genus Halichoeres were illustrated by noted American ichthyologist David Starr Jordon for The fishes of Samoa (1906).
Roderick Mickens/© AMNH

The illustrations in this exhibition, and many more, appear in the book Opulent Oceans: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library, by Melanie J. Stiassny, Axelrod Research Curator in the Department of Ichthyology, Division of Vertebrate Zoology. 

The exhibition is on view in the Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Collections Core, within the Museum’s Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, and is included with all admission.