Theodore Roosevelt Tour of the Museum: The Roosevelts and the Museum main content.

Theodore Roosevelt Tour of the Museum: The Roosevelts and the Museum

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On Exhibit posts

The restored Theodore Roosevelt Memorial is now open, and a new self-guided tour—available as part of the Museum's Explorer app, or on our website—highlights exhibits and places around the Museum with a connection to TR, who was President from 1901 to 1909. In this post, the fifth in a series, we explore the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial and the family's early ties to the Museum.

In 1869, the future president’s father, Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., gathered prominent New Yorkers in his East 20th Street home to sign the charter for this Museum. 

1869-TR Sr.
Founding AMNH  Theodore’s father, Roosevelt Sr., was one of a group of men who founded AMNH. By 1871, the first exhibits were on display at the Central Park Arsenal, on the eastern edge of Central Park.

A budding naturalist who as an adolescent trained with Audubon’s taxidermist, Theodore Jr. was 13 when he began a lifetime of contributing specimens to the Museum with 12 mice, one bat, a turtle, the skull of a red squirrel, and four bird eggs. He later contributed the snowy owl, below, which is now on display in the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall.

Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl collected by Theodore Roosevelt
© AMNH/ C. Chesek

On Oct. 27, 1931, Roosevelt’s fifth cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt, then Governor of New York, laid the cornerstone of the two-story Memorial. FDR told the crowd that when he was a boy, TR had told him, “Franklin, you can learn more about nature and life in the Museum than in all the books and schools in the world."

A wide shot of the Museum’s Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall, showing the three curved benches with the bronze statue of Roosevelt seated on one. The hall is empty of people.
© AMNH/D. Finnin

In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial—which includes the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall (reimagined and reopened in 2012, above) on the Museum's lower level, the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda on the floor above, and the Central Park West entrance—as New York State’s official memorial to the state's 33rd governor and the nation's 26th President. 

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall_Sculpture_DL
© AMNH/D. Finnin

Download the self-guided TR tour as part of the Museum's Explorer app, or on our website.

Visit the newly reopened Theodore Roosevelt Memorial at the Museum.