Interactive of the Gottesman Library’s great range with reference books and object from the Museum Archives.

Background Study, Weasel (Ermine) Group Mt. Katahdin, Maine


August 1958
James Perry Wilson, artist
Oil on canvas boards in two sections, wooden frame
15” H x 35” L

James Perry Wilson began his career at the American Museum of Natural History in 1934 as an apprentice under William R. Leigh, who was working on the background paintings for the Akeley Hall of African Mammals. Wilson developed many innovative methods and techniques in background painting, including a grid system for the transfer of an undistorted landscape onto the curved diorama background. By the time of his retirement in 1957, Wilson had painted thirty-eight diorama backgrounds at the American Museum of Natural History.


Artwork - Scholar's Room

Mt. Mikeno from Gorilla Group, William R. Leigh, 1927.
Mt. Mikeno from Gorilla Group, William R. Leigh, 1927


Mt. Mikeno from Gorilla Group

William Robinson Leigh, artist
Oil on tin
33” L x 96” W

The background study for the Mountain Gorilla Group diorama in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals, which was made during the Akeley-Eastman-Pomeroy African Hall Expedition (1926-1927) by expedition member, William Robinson Leigh. This study was made very close to the site of Carl Akeley’s grave.

Bronze sculpture of a jaguar, Eli Harvey, 1899
Bronze sculpture of a jaguar, Eli Harvey, 1899
Alvaro Keding/©AMNH

Jaguar Rampant

Eli Harvey, artist
67 cm L x 20 cm W x 30 cm H

Sculpture of a stalking black jaguar. Originally sculpted in Paris, France in 1899 and cast in New York in 1908. Inscriptions on base: Eli Harvey Paris 1899. Copyright 1908 by Eli Harvey. Roman Bronze Works, Inc.

Eli Harvey was an American sculptor, painter and animalier. In 1897, he began exhibiting sculptures of animals at Paris salons and continued doing so until returning to the United States in 1900, by which time he was "firmly committed to animal sculpture."

The Wounded Comrade, Carl E. Akeley, 1913
The Wounded Comrade, Carl E. Akeley, 1913
Alvaro Keding/©AMNH

The Wounded Comrade

Carl Ethan Akeley, artist
31 cm L x 59 cm W x 34 cm H

Depicts three elephants walking, two of them supporting a third one between them. Title “The Wounded Comrade” inscribed on the base. Also on base: "Roman Bronze Works N.Y." and "ANI."

Carl Ethan Akeley (born May 19, 1864, Clarendon, New York— died November 17, 1926, Belgian Congo, Africa), taxidermist, sculptor, inventor, explorer, and naturalist, who led five expeditions to Africa, three of which for the Museum of Natural History where he gathered specimens for his African Hall Exhibition. He is the author of the book In Brightest Africa.

Artwork - Reference Desk

Background Study for the African Wild Dog Group

William Robinson Leigh, artist
Oil on tin
59 x 184 cm; in frame 67 x 193 cm

Study made during the Akeley-Eastman-Pomeroy African Hall Expedition (1926-1927) by William Robinson Leigh. Depicted is a sunrise scene from the Serengeti Plain in Tanzania with two wild dogs in foreground at left and grazing zebras and wildebeests in the background, near the base of a mountain with two peaks. The landscape also includes several acacia trees. Though this was painted in preparation for the Hunting Dog diorama of the Akeley Memorial Hall of African Mammals, it was never used; instead, the background used in that diorama was painted by Robert Kane.

Blazing the Trail to the Distant Past

Painting depicting a green Tyrannosaurs Rex with expedition members excavating fossils in the foreground.
Blazing the Trail to the Distant Past, Arthur Jansson, 1928.
Matthew Shanley/©AMNH

Arthur August Jansson, artist
Oil on canvas
33" H x 33" W

Paleontologists excavate a fossil specimen while an imposing Tyrannosaurus Rex looms in the background. Inscription in ink on the stretcher reads: "Property of Natural History Magazine." Also inscribed in ink on a paper label on the back of the frame is "Blazing the trail to the distant past"/ Painted by A. A.

Nurse Shark

Nurse Shark Ginglymostoma cirratum Model, circa 1926
Nurse Shark, Ginglymostoma cirratum, model, circa 1926.
Denis Finnin/©AMNH

Circa 1926
Unknown artist
Wax matrix and paint
30” H x 11 ½” W x 11 ½” D

Model of a nurse shark, Ginglymostoma cirratum, that was displayed in the Hall of the Fishes of the World from 1926 to 1962 and in the Evolutionary Tree of Fishes from 1969 to 2002. This model was also on display in the ¡Cuba! exhibition which opened in November 21, 2016, and closed August 13, 2017. ¡Cuba! was a bilingual exhibit which explored the island's rich biodiversity and culture. 

South American Jungle

Facsimile of 1969 original
Ugo Mochi, artist
94" L x 22" W

In September 1969, Ugo Mochi designed and executed fourteen backlit window panels of plants and animals from around the world in outline were installed in the new Museum cafeteria. A facsimile of the 1969 original paper cut-out is displayed in the great range.

Plate 50 From American Ornithology


Alexander Wilson, artist; Alexander Lawson, engraver

Great horn owl, barn owl, meadow mouse, red bat, small headed flycatcher, and hawk owl from Alexander Wilson's "American Ornithology."

Alexander Wilson was a Scottish-born ornithologist and poet whose pioneering work on North American birds, established him as a founder of American ornithology and one of the foremost naturalists of his time. 

HMS Beagle

Circa 2005
Frank Heppner, artist
Wood, copper, cotton, brass iron and paint
Replica 1/40 actual size; 28.5" H x 16" W x 20.5" D

This replica of the HMS Beagle was made for the Darwin Exhibition held at the American Museum of Natural History from November 16, 2005 and closed August 20, 2006. The exhibition also featured a broad collection of artifacts, specimens - including live plants and animals from the Galápagos - original manuscripts, and memorabilia as an exploration of the life and legacy of Charles Darwin (1809-1882).

The HMS Beagle’s maiden voyage in 1826 was to survey Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, the tip of South America. The region was desolate and the voyage difficult; the captain committed suicide. The ship came under the command of a 23-year-old lieutenant, Robert FitzRoy, who completed the survey work and returned the vessel to England in 1830.

The following year the Beagle was refitted again and returned to South America with Captain Robert FitzRoy again at the helm and Charles Darwin joining as naturalist. The Beagle returned home in 1836, set off on a third voyage to Australia within months, and upon her return remained in England as a coast guard vessel. She was eventually moved ashore and sold as scrap in 1870. In 2004, a British team announced that it had located the ship’s remains lodged in the mud in a marsh in Essex, in the southeast of England.


Camarasaurus model, Erwin S. Christman, 1919
Camarasaurus model, Erwin S. Christman, 1919
Alvaro Keding/©AMNH

Circa 1919
Erwin S. Christman, artist
Cement and paint
26” H x 58” L x 13” D inches

In 1900, a fifteen-year-old Erwin S. Christman joined the staff of the American Museum of Natural History. He had a passionate love of animals and was put to work making illustrations of fossil mammal skulls in the Department of Vertebrate Paleontology. He was encouraged to explore drawing and modeling with clay and caught the attention of the museum’s director, Henry Fairfield Osborn, who took Christman under his wing, encouraging him and supervising much of his work. As Christman’s artwork developed, he attended New York’s Art Students League and the National Academy of Design, training that helped to refine and develop his artistic skills.

When Osborn and Charles Craig Mook published their “Characters and Restoration of the Sauropod Genus Camarasaurus Cope” in 1919, Christman created the restoration, a model working under the direction of William Gregory at the museum, and a series of drawings of the head of Camarasaurus as a full page plate.

Four views of Edwin Christman's sculpture of Camarasaurus.
Four views of Edwin Christman's Camarasaurus, "Camarasaurus, Amphicoelias, and other sauropods of Cope. Memoirs of the AMNH," 1921.

American Museum Congo Expedition Crate

Circa 1909-1915
Wood, iron, paint, paper and ink
12 ¼” H x 21” L x 11 ½” D

The American Museum Congo Expedition (1909-1915) was sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History and made possible through the support of the Belgian government. The expedition party consisted of just two men. Herbert Lang, a German-born taxidermist and mammalogist was Expedition leader and photographer; James Paul Chapin, a student and ornithologist who worked at the Museum was selected to be his Assistant. The main goal was to expand the Museum’s collection of African zoological specimens, but Lang was also tasked with acquiring ethnographic material. The Museum was particularly eager to obtain specimens of the recently discovered (1901) okapi and the square-lipped, or white, rhinoceros. Lang and Chapin successfully traveled throughout the Congo region in central Africa (Modern day Democratic Republic of the Congo) to ultimately collect a massive fifty-four tons of material and over 9000 photographs for the Museum.

Microscopes, Ronald S. Wilkinson Collection

Circa 1800s
From the Ronald Sterne Wilkinson Memorabilia Collection
Various sizes

Ronald Sterne Wilkinson was a science historian, entomologist, and environmentalist, who retired from the Library of Congress in 2008 after 38 years of service. In 1975, Wilkinson was appointed Associate in Bibliography at the American Museum of Natural History Library. He bequeathed his collection to the Library in 2010 which included 2,462 books and many artifacts. From left to right:

  1. Culpeper microscope possibly made between 1760 and the first half of the 19th century. The name comes from Edward Culpeper (1670-1738), a scientific instrument maker based in London, England, who developed this type of microscope between 1725 and 1730. The Culpeper design received much popularity and was reproduced and improved by several instrument makers, including John Cuff, George Adams, Benjamin Martin, and Edward Nairne. The present microscope was probably made by George Adams and is most likely the last of the evolving designs of this type. Mem_inv_0430
  2. Microscope made by Charles Hearn in Montreal between 1860 and 1865. He started working in Toronto, Canada, in 1857. Around 1860 he moved to Montreal, where he opened a shop as an optician and instrument maker. Mem_inv_0424
  3. Binocular microscope made by R & J Beck, an optical manufacturing firm in London, England, between 1865 and 1872. The serial number in the present microscope dates it to 1868. Labeled The “Popular” microscope, it was one of the first cheap binoculars. Mem_inv_0425
  4. Binocular microscope made around 1930 by Ernst Leitz GmbH, founded in 1869 and known today as Leica Camara, a German corporation based in Wetzlar. This is a Leitz Greenough-type wide-field stereoscopic compound microscope of type UBM-M or GUE. Mem_inv_0435

Lunar Spring Tire Prototype

2011 (Exhibited)
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, manufacturer
Nickel, plastic and other various metals
28” diameter x 5” D

This wire-mesh tire prototype was designed with the idea of helping future lunar rovers drive across the Moon. Its design is based on the wheels from the rovers used by Apollo astronauts in the 1970s. Composed of 800 separate wire springs, the lunar spring tire can’t be punctured by sharp and bumpy dirt, like an ordinary air-filled tire might. It was on display in the special exhibition, “Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration” held at the Museum between November 19, 2011-August 12, 2012.

Amory C. Simons Dog Model Collection

Amory Coffin Simons
Plaster and paint
Various sizes

Displayed are selections from the Amory C. Simons Dog Model Collection, five dog breeds at ⅓ scale. The full collection comprises 13 miniature dog models created by Amory Coffin Simons during World War II, from 1938 to 1947. This is a representation of his models from an "Exhibit of Miniature Dog Models" which was at the Museum from February 9 to March 1, 1948.

Lantern Slide Boxes

Lantern Slide Cases
Lantern Slide Cases
Alvaro Keding/©AMNH

Circa 1920s
Our Seasons: 6 ¾” H x 5” L x 4 ¾” D
Study of the Sun & Moon: 4 ¾” H x 5” L x 5 ¾” D
Protection of Our Wildflowers: 8” H x 4 ¾” L x 5” D
John Burroughs, Naturalist: 4 ¾” H x 5” L x 12 ½” D
The Lion, Tiger & Elephant at Home: 4 ¾” H x 4 ½” L x 5 ¾” D
Our Changing Seasons: 4 ¾” H x 4 ½” L x 5” D

Lantern slide boxes like these were transported to schools as part of the American Museum of Natural History's public instruction programs. The Museum Archives Photographic Collection includes a collection of over 40,000 lantern slides that were once used for lectures and loaned to New York City schools.

American Museum of Natural History Land Expedition Flag

Roy W. Miner and Barnum Brown, designers
Nylon, wool and brass
18” H x 27” L

The American Museum of Natural History land expedition flag was first used by Jacques David Wimpfheimer (1918-2000), who acted as a special field assistant for the Department of Experimental Biology. Wimpfheimer conducted an expedition to Ecuador to obtain a number of South American murine opossums in 1941.

American Museum of Natural History flags have been all over the world and to the moon.

Flag Regulations

Land flags are issued for expeditions mainly on land are to be placed under the custodianship of the leader of each expedition with the written authority as above specified and at the close of each expedition on must be immediately returned to the Museum authorities.

Marine flags are issued to boats belonging to the Museum should be accompanied by written authority under the Museum seal, signed by the director of the Museum or his representative. Each flag is issued as a permanent mark of identification to be flown according to rules governing the display of nautical flags on shipboard and should remain continuously under the custodianship of the director of the expedition or the captain of the Museum purposes. When the flag becomes too worn for display, it should be returned to the Museum authorities and a new flag issued.

The Museum house flag shall be displayed at the masthead. The Museum house shall be displayed continuously by day and night while the vessel is out from her home mooring except when the master shall consider that the vessel is plying unfrequented waters where the identifying emblem is unnecessary. The flag shall not ordinarily be displayed while the vessel is her home port.

Museum Trustees Lansing Lamont (left) and William Beinecke (right), flying the Museum’s land flag, reach the North Pole.
Museum Trustees Lansing Lamont (left) and William Beinecke (right), flying the Museum’s land flag, reach the North Pole.

Kodiak Bear at Bay

Charles Robert Knight, artist
19” H x 11” L x 11” D

Charles Robert Knight was a pioneer in the genre of restoration art and paleoart depicting prehistoric creatures and landscapes. His artwork was featured at the American Museum of Natural History including large murals hung in the Museum’s halls.

Polar Bear Traveling Educational Diorama

Circa 1967
Unknown artist
Masonite, glass, plaster, wax, glitter, ink on paper
11”H x 20.5 L x 11.75”D

In the middle of the 20th century, the AMNH began producing miniature traveling dioramas that were loaned out to schools in the region. This effort was part of a long tradition of the Museum’s Education Department to lend instructional material, specimens, and artifacts for classroom use, along with educational literature and lesson plans teachers could use as a basis for instruction/discussion.

The circulation of collections to schools was a robust effort at the Museum for most of the 20th century. At one time this lending included sets of lantern slides and scripts for projection in educational settings and simple glass fronted boxed with mounted, taxidermied specimens inside. Earlier distribution efforts featured dedicated delivery vehicles that brought loans of specimens and artifacts directly to schools.

Miniature dioramas and specimen display cases ranged in size and included models of dioramas such at this diorama of polar bears. Produced by the Education Department, this sturdy model diorama was of a novel design. The heavy wood outer box protected the contents and glass panels. The front slid up and out for viewing and the top panel slid off to allow light to illuminate the diorama landscape. An essay on polar bears—replete with bibliography—was mounted on the inside of the front cover. The text includes a reference to the Museum’s Polar Bear Diorama in the Hall of Ocean Life, which opened in 1967. Though the composition of the actual diorama and miniature dioramas were similar, they were not identical.

Open view of the Education Department's circulating diorama of polar bears, circa 1967.
Open view of the Education Department's circulating diorama of polar bears, circa 1967.
Denis Finnin/©AMNH

Letters From the Original Hayden Planetarium Building

1934, 1958
Aluminum with zinc coating
A: 23 ⅛” H x 25 ½” L x 4 ¼” D
M: 24” H x 23 ¾” L x 2 ⅞” D
N: 25 ¾” H x 21 ¾” L x 3 ½” D
H: 25 ½” H x 21 ⅓” L x 5” D

The A, N, and H are from "Hayden Planetarium" and the M is from "American Museum" which was added in 1958. The Hayden Planetarium opened on October 3, 1935 and provided a physical space to represent the American Museum of Natural History's recently established Department of Astronomy. From this beginning, the relationship and identity of the Astronomy department and the Hayden Planetarium, as well as their staff members, were interchangeable. In 1999, the Department of Astronomy changed to the Department of Astrophysics and the Hayden Planetarium began to have distinct leadership. In 2000, the Hayden Planetarium reopened as part of the Rose Center for Earth and Space.

James L. Clark and Gardell D. Christensen with Models of Lions


July 1934
Julius Kirschner, photographer
Mounted gelatin silver print

Museum exhibition preparators, James L. Clark and Gardell D. Christensen, working with models for the Lion Diorama in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals.

Lion Diorama, Akeley Hall of African Mammals.
Lion Diorama, Akeley Hall of African Mammals.
Denis Finnin/©AMNH

Big-horned Sheep

Charles Robert Knight, artist
Varnished plaster
18” diameter x 2 ¼” D

Museum artists were sent to specific locations (often joining scientific expeditions) to paint the scenic landscape on site. These paintings were used to create the larger diorama background paintings seen on display. In addition to his restoration work and paleoart, Charles Robert Knight was also known for his depictions of modern wildlife and early man. He designed the Palmer Memorial Tiger for Princeton, New Jersey, elephant head sculptures for the façade at the Elephant House at the then New York Zoological Park (now the Bronx Zoo) in 1906, and he designed the Zoo’s logo, as well, which featured a bighorn sheep pictured on the cover of their second annual report, shown below.

Title page of the Second Annual Report of the New York Zoological Society depicting Charles Robert Knight's rendering of the big-horned sheep, 1898.
Title page of the Second Annual Report of the New York Zoological Society depicting Charles Robert Knight's rendering of the big-horned sheep, 1898.

Alaskan Kodiak Bear

James L. Clark, artist
7” H x 9” L x 4” D

James Lippitt Clark (1883–1969) was an accomplished animal sculptor, taxidermist, explorer and big-game hunter. Clark was employed by the American Museum of Natural History from 1902 to 1908, and again from 1923 to 1949, and served as the museum’s Director of Arts, Preparation and Installation from 1935 until his retirement. Clark is known for his innovations in specimen preparation and display, his creative direction of the Museum’s mammal halls, and for his role in several expeditions on behalf of the Museum, both within North America and to remote regions of Africa, Central Asia and Southeast Asia.

Live Specimen Boxes

19th Century
From the Ronald Sterne Wilkinson Memorabilia Collection
Wooden cases with a glass front and air screens on both sides possibly made of steel
Left: 9” H x 9” L x 5” D
Right: 11” H x 16” L x 7” D

Specimen case used for storing live insects for observation purposes. They were made in the 1800s.

Central Archives Manuscript Boxes

From the American Museum of Natural History Central Archives
Archival manuscript boxes
3 linear feet

With an estimated 370,000 items, measuring over 360 linear feet, the Central Archives is a unique body of records documenting the growth and history of the Museum from its founding.

Film Canister and Reels

Circa 1920s
16” H x 16” L x 9” D (closed)

This film canister and reels, with various paper shipping labels, was used by the Museum to ship films out to schools and theaters. The film and audiovisual collections in the Museum Archives document the Museum’s involvement in scientific exploration, discovery, and public education.

A significant portion of the film collection was created by expedition members during the 1920s and 30s when the Museum sponsored expeditions across the globe or have been donated by Museum trustees and affiliates from their personal travels. In the early 1950s, the Museum collaborated with CBS Television to make the Adventure Series. This live-broadcast television series aired for three years and covered scientific topics of the day. The audiovisual collection also includes exhibition footage, video recordings of lectures held at the Museum, copies of televised interviews with Museum scientists, and other miscellaneous Museum-related recordings.


Charles Robert Knight, artist
Painted plaster
18" H x 28" L x 9" D

Charles Robert Knight was a pioneer in the genre of restoration art and paleoart depicting prehistoric creatures and landscapes. His artwork was featured at the American Museum of Natural History including large murals hung in the Museum’s halls.

Saltwater Crocodile

Facsimile of 1837-1844 original
Hermann Schlegel, author; Unknown artist

Hermann Schlegel was a German ornithologist, herpetologist, and ichthyologist.

This enlarged reproduction of plate 1 from Schlegel's "Abbildungen neuer oder unvollstandig bekannter Amphibien" was on view at the Museum in "Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustrations from the Museum's Library", an exhibition that took place at the Museum from October 19, 2013, and closed September 13, 2015. The saltwater crocodile, Crocodylus porosus is a crocodilian native to saltwater habitats, brackish wetlands and freshwater rivers from India's east coast across Southeast Asia and the Sundaic region to northern Australia and Micronesia. 

Thomashuxleya externa


France Baker-Cohen, artist
10 1/2” H x 18 1/2” L x 6 1/2” D

A notoungulate from the Casamayor Formations of Patagonia. 

France Baker-Cohen worked at the American Museum of Natural History as one of ten student interns from Antioch College. She worked in the Preparation and Paleontology Departments from January 2, 1945 - March 1945. In her short time, she made three models of extinct mammals: Propachyrucos ameghinorum, Hegetoheres, and Thomashuxleya externa. She eventually earned her PhD. at Columbia University and became the Assistant Professor of Anatomy at Albert Einstein Medical School.

Polar Bear

Charles Robert Knight, artist
13" H x 24" L x 9 1/2" D

Polar bear lying belly down on ice.

Charles Robert Knight was a pioneer in the genre of restoration art and paleoart depicting prehistoric creatures and landscapes. His artwork was featured at the American Museum of Natural History including large murals hung in the Museum’s halls.

Column Copying Press #6

Wooden books press in the Library Conservation Lab.
Wooden books press in the Library Conservation Lab.
A. Keding/©AMNH

Circa 1880s
Tatum and Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, manufacturer
Iron and paint

While the copy press is not a letterpress, it is an important part of any well-outfitted print shop. Copy presses (also known as book or nipping presses) were traditionally used as primitive copying machines; modern-day uses include pressing water out of handmade paper and drying flowers. How did a copy press make copies? An original letter, freshly written but dry, was placed between slightly moist sheets of very thin paper (which was thinner even than onion-skin paper). When these pages were pressed together, the moist paper would pick up some of the ink from the original document. The writing was reversed on the copy and, like the original, would be slightly blotted, but could be read from the back of the thin sheet. This process, common in the middle of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, was patented by James Watt in London in 1780.

Prestosuchus chiiquensis

Created in 1991
Eliot Goldfinger, artist

Prestosuchus chiniquensis, or Presto’s crocodile. This skull cast along with a cast of a composite full skeleton is installed in the 4th floor dinosaur halls. Although Prestosuchus was a large animal with big claws and a huge head with sharp-toothed jaws, it was not a dinosaur. Instead, it is closely related to Crocodyliformes. This specimen is a reconstructed composite of several Prestosuchus specimens collected in Brazil and dating from the Late Triassic.

Specimen AMNH 3856 was collected in Chiniqua, Brazil; received in exchange from the University of Tübingen, 1937.

About the Gottesman Research Library

The Gottesman Library's great range wall display with reference books and archival objects.
The Gottesman Library’s great range display wall houses the Library Reference Book Collection and highlights objects from the Museum Archives' Art and Memorabilia Collections.
Denis Finnin/©AMNH
On May 4th, 2023, the Research Library reopened in the Museum’s new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation as the David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Research Library and Learning Center.

The Gottesman Research Library is perched on the fourth floor of the Gilder Center among the treetops of Theodore Roosevelt Park. The spacious, light-filled Reading Room is ideal for individual or quiet group study. A new exhibition venue for the Museum, the Alcove Gallery, is a low-light exhibit room purposely designed to allow Library collections to be presented in a controlled environment. The intimate space provides an opportunity for the Gottesman Research Library and Museum Archives to share treasures from its collections in ways that highlight their importance and demonstrate how they are integral to and support current Museum efforts and science.

Entrance to the David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Research Library and Learning Center.
Entrance to the David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Research Library and Learning Center.
Alvaro Keding/©AMNH

A secondary reading room, the Scholars’ Room, provides researchers working with rare, fragile, valuable or oversized materials a secure environment to conduct their research. A new Group Study Room, located off the main Reading Room, offers a reservable venue for small gatherings of Museum staff and students.

The Gottesman Research Library’s great range display wall houses the Reference Book Collection and highlights objects from the Museum Archives’ Art and Memorabilia Collections. Featured by the entrance is Edwin Christman’s Camarasaurus, a 1919 cast concrete sculpture that’s become an icon since first going on display in 1997. The Camarasaurus welcomes visitors and staff alike to the striking new Gottesman Research Library and reminds one and all of our critical link to the history on which our present is built.

The Library of the American Museum of Natural History was established in 1869 with the founding of the Museum. Since that time, the Gottesman Research Library has grown into one of the largest natural history libraries in the world, with topics spanning the full range of the natural sciences, excluding botany and including The Richard S. Perkin Astronomy Collection, transferred from the original Hayden Planetarium in 1997.

The Gottesman Research Library's primary function is to serve and support the work of the Museum's scientific staff. The Gottesman Research Library also serves scholars in natural history from around the world, as well as interested members of the general public. The Gottesman Research Library's holdings are comprised of a research collection, the Museum Archives, and digital collections.

For information on accessing these collections, see our homepage.

Mission Statement

The Gottesman Research Library is a unique and extensive collection of natural science books, journals, archives, photographs, moving images, art, Museum memorabilia, digital surrogates and born digital assets. The Gottesman Research Library's mission is to foster intellectual growth and support the research, teaching, and educational activities of the Museum. The Gottesman Research Library fulfills its mission by acquiring, organizing, preserving and making available collections of scholarly materials in all formats to Museum staff, students, the wider scientific community and the general public.

Library History

The American Museum of Natural History is a nonprofit research institution chartered as a Museum and Library by the State of New York in 1869. In its early years, the Museum's Library expanded its book and serial collections mostly through such gifts as the John C. Jay Library on Conchology, the Carson Brevoort Library on Fishes and General Zoology, the Ornithological Library of Daniel Giraud Elliot, the Harry Edwards Entomological Library, the Hugh Jewett collection of Voyages and Travel, and the Jules Marcou Geology Collection. In 1903 the American Ethnological Society deposited its library in the Museum and in 1905 the New York Academy of Sciences followed suit by transferring its collection of 10,000 volumes.

Page one of the charter of incorporation by the State of New York establishing a Museum and Library of natural history in New York City, 1869.
Page one of the charter of incorporation by the State of New York establishing a Museum and Library of natural history in New York City, 1869.

In 1997, the Museum's Library incorporated the Richard S. Perkin Collection in Astronomy and Astrophysics of the former Hayden Planetarium. This collection consists of over 8,000 volumes, 55 journal titles, over 10,000 photographs, and archives dating back to 1934, one year before the opening of the original Hayden Planetarium.

The Gottesman Research Library has become one of the largest natural history libraries in the world, with a collection that is rich in retrospective materials, some going back to the 15th century. It includes many materials that are difficult to find elsewhere and, as a result, forms the finest single collection for zoological systematics.

In recognition of the depth and quality of the Gottesman Research Library's collections, other libraries in the metropolitan New York area-such as the New York Public Library and the Columbia and New York University libraries-have typically not collected heavily in the field of natural history. Local students, faculty, researchers, and the general public rely on the resources of our collections, as do scholars at the national and international levels. Consolidation of the Gottesman Research Library's holdings in one central collection provides significant advantages for users as well as insuring greater efficiency in collections management.