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Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals

D. Finnin/© AMNH

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.

In This Hall

  Resources for Educators: Hall of North American Mammals   Exhibit Abert’s Squirrel Only in winter do the perky ears of Abert’s squirrels grow tassels, or tufts of hair. Exhibit Alaska Brown Bear 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... Exhibit Alaskan Moose 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)... Exhibit American Badger After a fruitless night of hunting, a badger has discovered a fresh target: the burrow entrance of a Wyoming ground squirrel. Exhibit American Bison and Pronghorn 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... Exhibit American Marten A marten emerges tentatively at the bare rim of Crater Lake in search of ground squirrels. Exhibit American Mink Where there’s water, there may be mink. These svelte hunters seek fish and frogs underwater and waterfowl and small mammals near... Exhibit Bighorn Sheep Stalwart symbols of mountain wilderness, a “bachelor band” of bighorn sheep stands before Mount Athabasca in the Canadian Rockies. Exhibit Black Bear A black bear has startled a venomous cottonmouth snake in this Florida cypress swamp. Exhibit Black-Footed Ferret Black-footed ferrets are North America’s rarest mammals. Exhibit Black-Tailed and Antelope Jackrabbits The black-tailed jackrabbit (left) and antelope jackrabbit (right) are often seen idling or running together in Arizona and Mexico,... Exhibit Canada Lynx and Snowshoe Hare Despite its best efforts to hide, a snowshoe (varying) hare has captured the attention of a Canada lynx. Exhibit Caribou (Grant Caribou) Caribou, also known as reindeer, flourish in some of the world’s harshest places. Their principal home is tundra—land that is too... Exhibit Caribou (Osborn Caribou) The mating season for caribou, called the rut, has begun. Herd members are gathering in the open so they can find and compete for... Exhibit Collared Peccary A distant cousin of the domestic pig, the collared peccary has a similar barrel-shaped body with daintier legs and feet. Exhibit Cougar (Mountain Lion) Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park offers ideal habitat for cougars: shade to escape the heat, rugged terrain in which to ambush... Exhibit Coyote Where wolves and cougars are absent, coyotes are top predators. Although smaller, they may scavenge as much as they catch. Exhibit Dall Sheep Camouflaged against the snow, Dall sheep thrive where few mammals can—above the tree line on windy peaks in Alaska and northwest... Exhibit Eastern Cottontail Eastern cottontails thrive in brambles bordering open fields, and they are fond of farms, gardens and other green areas tended by... Exhibit Ermine and Vole In a heartbeat, this ermine will dart at an oblivious vole and dispatch it with a swift bite to the neck. Exhibit Extinct American Mammals of the Ice Age Miniature models of mammoths and other ice-age mammals are depicted in two small dioramas at the entrance to the Hall of North American... Exhibit Fisher and Porcupine As dawn breaks, a fisher has discovered its favorite prey, a porcupine, descending a tree. Exhibit Gray Fox and Opossum A gray fox (ground) and a Virginia opossum (tree) are feeding upon ripe persimmons in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Both animals... Exhibit Grizzly Bear You’d be wise to avoid stumbling upon this scene in the wild. Exhibit Groundhog Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, spend much of their lives underground. Exhibit Jaguar The jaguar is the largest cat in the Americas. Its muscular, compact frame is built for strength and stealth rather than extended... Exhibit Mountain Goat No mammal is more sure-footed on steep peaks than the mountain goat. Exhibit Mule Deer The large, mule-like ears of these deer inspired western explorer William Clark, in 1806, to give these animals their name. Exhibit Musk Ox A herd of musk oxen hunkers down to wait out a snowstorm. Exhibit Nine-Banded Armadillo Surrounding this mother armadillo is an unusual family group: identical quadruplets. Exhibit North American Beaver The beaver is not your typical rodent. It’s the largest one on the continent, and the only one that can cut down mature trees. Exhibit Northern Flying Squirrel An agile skydiver, the northern flying squirrel doesn’t fly—it glides. Exhibit Raccoon In the forest, raccoons live near lakes or streams. But human environments also suit them fine. Exhibit River Otter As morning mist veils a lake in Algonquin Provincial Park, a young female river otter comes ashore and inspects a spider web. Exhibit Sewellel (Mountain Beaver) Neither a beaver nor a high-mountain dweller, the sewellel is a rather singular animal. Exhibit Spotted Skunk and Ringtail (Cacomistle) The remarkable handstand of the spotted skunk (left) is a warning to discourage the two curious ringtails (right) from getting any... Exhibit Striped Skunk The sun set a half-hour ago—the cue for a mother skunk to lead her five kits from their den on a hunting sortie. Exhibit Wapiti This handsome deer is known by many names. “Wapiti” is one. Wapi means “white” in some native Algonquian languages, which may refer... Exhibit Western Gray Squirrel This perspective, high in towering sugar pines, affords a rare close-up of two western gray squirrels. Exhibit White-Tailed Deer The leaves of blackgum trees, already ablaze in scarlet, attract a fawn, doe and buck. Exhibit Wolf Group hunting is how wolves can prey on animals much bigger than themselves. Exhibit Wolverine Canada’s Barren Lands are so far north that trees barely grow and the summer sun sets near midnight.