Photograph Collection

Image 5417

Shipment of dinosaur bones transported by wagon to be loaded onto Union Pacific railroad cars for journey to New York,1898. (AMNH image no. 5417)

The Photograph Collection consists of over one million black-and-white prints and negatives, color transparencies and slides. This includes a collection of over 40,000 lantern slides that were once used for lectures and loaned to New York City schools. In addition, the photographic print collection includes over 900 collections of vintage photographic prints, totaling approximately 140,000 individual photographs. The images document scientific work worldwide in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, astronomy, geology, paleontology, and zoology. There are photographs from every continent on earth and photographs of the stars. The collection also documents the history of the Museum, Museum staff at work, scientists in the field and in the laboratory, and permanent and temporary exhibitions. It includes images of objects and specimens from the Museum collections as well as illustrations from the Library's Rare Book Collection. The earliest negatives date from the late 1800's.

Digital Special Collections provides access to our rich online resource of archival photographic images, art and memorabilia images, and Rare Book Collection illustrations.

Photographic Negative Collection

The Photographic Negative Collection consists of nearly one million black-and-white negatives, in formats ranging from 35mm to 11 X 14 inches.

Photographic Print Collection

The Photographic Print Collection includes over 900 collections of vintage, mostly black and white photographic prints, totaling more than 125,000 individual photographs. Negatives for some of these prints are in the Photographic Negative Collection.

The collection also includes 52 scrapbooks that were created in various Museum departments. Most of this material is not represented in the Negative Collections.

Large Format Transparencies

Over 9,000 color transparencies document Museum artifacts, art, rare books, and Museum exhibits.

Lantern Slides

The collections consist of over 40,000 colored and uncolored lantern slides that were once used for lectures and circulated to New York City Public Schools. The subject area is broad, covering natural history and travel.

Slide Collections

There are over 600 named slide collections, comprised of over 150,000 35mm color slides. These collections detail Museum exhibitions, expeditions, staff research, and travel.

Museum Scientific Departments

Many of the Scientific Departments administer their own photographic print collections as part of their archives. The Divisions of Anthropology, Paleontology and Vertebrate Zoology have extensive photographic print collections.  Go to for links to each department's site and contact information. Contact the specific department to inquire about their photographic print collections.

Please see Special Collections Research Tools for more information.