New Book Highlights Rare Scientific Works

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A new book introduces natural science and art lovers alike to a selection of seldom seen and beautifully illustrated scientific works from the Museum's Rare Book Collection.

Natural Histories: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library (Sterling Signature) features 40 essays from Museum scientists including Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson, paleontologist Niles Eldredge, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation Director Eleanor Sterling, and Museum curators, scientific associates, and librarians who are familiar with the works and have used them in their research.

The works featured in Natural Histories span from the 16th century to the early 20th century, with scientific disciplines ranging from anthropology to astronomy to zoology. The edition is packaged with 40 extraordinary, suitable-for-framing prints representing each essay.

“In the days before photography and printing, original art was the only way to capture the likeness of organisms, people, and places, and therefore the only way to share this information with others,” said Tom Baione, the Harold Boeschenstein Director of Library Services at the Museum. “Printed reproductions of natural history art enabled many who’d never seen an elephant, for instance, to try to begin to understand what an elephant looked like and how its unusual features might function.”