Research Labs and Facilities

The Museum provides exceptional support facilities for research, and houses one of the largest natural history libraries in the world, providing access to over 500,000 printed items and over 4,000 serial titles, 1,200 of which are available online. There are three state-of-the-art molecular laboratories in the Institute for Comparative Genomics, powerful parallel computing facilities, the Ambrose Monell Frozen Tissue Collection, paleontological labs, an imaging and microscopy laboratory, and the Southwestern Research Station, a field station in Arizona, a facility that attracts top field biologists and their students from many universities annually.

AMNH is exceptionally well equipped for research in comparative biology, with 10,000 square feet of molecular systematics laboratories, housing advanced equipment supporting many aspects of DNA analysis, including a new laboratory that opened for operation in March 2006. The Graduate School also is served by significant existing instructional space and resources, which include numerous existing classrooms and laboratories, and many informal spaces (including staff and public cafeterias open every day of the week), located throughout the institution.


RGGS Library

The Research Library is one of AMNH’s crown jewels in support of scientific research. It is the largest independent natural history library in the Western Hemisphere—housing nearly 500,000 printed items as well as extensive non-print collections that span the full range of all the natural sciences and date back to the 15th century. The Library’s primary collecting foci are zoology, paleontology, Earth and planetary sciences, biodiversity and conservation, anthropology, and archaeology. An estimated 220,000 items in the Print Collection pertain to comparative biology, and the Library is especially strong in the areas of behavior, evolution, morphology, systematics and nomenclature, and paleontology. Each year, the Library adds approximately 1,500 monographs and 10,500 print journal issues. Currently, it receives 4,000 serial titles in print from subscriptions, gifts, and through exchange; of these, 1,200 are also available online.

The Library also collects materials on scientific biography, the history and bibliography of the fields of natural history, anthropology, exploration and travel, general natural history, cartography, marine biology, oceanography, general biology, botany, microbiology, museology, and library science. Documentation on the history of exploration and science is deep, including a large array of original still and moving images taken by AMNH scientists over the last century. More recently, the collections are being made available online and integrated with the AMNH’s physical collections and their associated documentation.

AMNH faculty, students, staff, and affiliates may use the Library from Monday through Friday. The main reading room is equipped with desk space for research and terminals for searching the Library catalog, index databases, and e-journals. Patrons may access the Internet through both wireless and Ethernet connections.

Microscopy & Imaging Facility

The facility includes Field Emission and Variable Pressure Scanning Electron Microscopes as well as a variety of other microanalysis tools such as a Confocal Laser Scanning Microscope, a Fluorescence and Transmitted Light Microscope, Bruker x-ray microanalysis systems and a wet chemical laboratory for sample preparation. Computing capabilities enable manipulation and processing of all data acquired within the facility to provide a shared resource for scientific imaging, analytical microscopy, and image processing.

Molecular Laboratories

RGGS Molecular Labs

The Institute of Comparative Genomics is housed in four, "state of the art" facilities within the Museum. The three molecular biology laboratories include the 3,200 square foot Molecular Systematics Laboratory, the 2,179 square foot Lewis and Dorothy Cullman Research molecular laboratory, housed in the Department of Ornithology, and the recently opened Genomics Laboratory, which occupies 5,200 square feet.

All of the laboratories include high throughput automated DNA sequencing cores and other equipment to conduct research in molecular evolution, systematics, and comparative genomics. Significant research areas include assembling the tree of life for a variety or organisms, molecular phylogenetics, microbial diversity, and conservation genetics. These facilities currently house approximately 70 staff including curators, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, interns and support staff. Complementing these laboratories is a powerful parallel processing computer core and the Ambrose Monell Collection for Molecular and Microbial Research, an internationally important repository of frozen biomaterials spanning the diversity of life on the planet.

Computational Science


Research at AMNH relies increasingly on high performance computing, with science applications extending from phylogenetic analyses of genomic and anatomical data in comparative biology to simulations of star cluster evolution in astrophysics. These fields generate data sets of immense size and complexity, which requires supercomputing resources.

Museum scientists are at the forefront of cutting-edge approaches in three areas: (1) commodity cluster computing, (2) special purpose hardware computing, and (3) scientific visualization. The Museum currently runs three high performance computing systems (Demeter, Eve, and Enyo) and a SUN cluster, which are deployed in support of a variety of research projects; and an Onyx supercomputer and five GRAPE boards that are used in astrophysical research.


Information Technology

AMNH’s technology backbone is set up to be comparable to that of the most advanced research institutions and universities. The Museum is connected to both Internet-1 (commodity Internet) at 24Mbps and Internet-2 (research-only Internet, or Abilene) at 100Mbps, via the Manhattan Fiber Network. Users generally have 100Mbps service at the desktop (via Cat-5 cable) or 802.11b or 802.11g speeds (11Mbps and 54Mbps respectively) through wireless connections. Higher speeds to the desktop or laboratory can be arranged, as necessary, since services are delivered over a fiber backbone to most locations. Wireless access points have been installed in select public areas, meeting rooms, and classrooms. The Richard Gilder Graduate School facilities have complete wireless coverage. Museum users have access to a wide range of services and support, including Email, FTP, Help Desk services for hardware and software on a wide variety of platforms, assistance with acquisitions of new systems, remote access to the network using Virtual Private Networking and a 39TB Storage Area Network.

Biodiversity Informatics Facility


The Biodiversity Informatics Facility at the American Museum of Natural History's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation strives to utilize information technologies in biodiversity research and applications while developing and promoting the effective use of these technologies for biodiversity conservation around the world. They are a leader in developing and freely distributing resources in the form of software, methods, and training material and promoting their effective use in the conservation community through training and web-based technologies. Visit Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners (NCEP).


Southwestern Research Station


The Southwestern Research Station is a year-round field station under the direction of the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History, serving biologists, geologists, anthropologists, and advanced students studying the diverse environments and biotas of the Chiricahua Mountains in southeastern Arizona. Research is conducted in entomology, herpetology, ornithology, mammalogy, botany, geology, arachnology, and animal behavior and population, behavioral, physiological, and conservation ecology.

Facilities in the Osborn Memorial Laboratory complex include a library, an insect collection, a herbarium, vertebrate collections, and a photography lab. Completed in 1992, the Technical Equipment Laboratory provides excellent microscopic facilities, constant temperature chambers, chemical hood, precision balances, and centrifuges. Recent additions of outdoor aviary complexes and an Animal Behavior Observatory afford outstanding facilities for behavioral and behavioral ecology studies. Classes from the Richard Gilder Graduate School, as well as other colleges and universities, use the Station. 

Black Rock Forest


AMNH is a member of the Black Rock Forest Consortium, a unique alliance of colleges and universities, public and independent K-12 schools, and leading scientific and cultural institutions. The Consortium operates the 4000-acre Black Rock Forest, located 50 miles north of New York City in the Hudson Highlands, as a field station for scientific research, education, and conservation. The Forest features dramatic topography with over 1000 feet of relief, numerous lakes and streams, and high habitat and species diversity. Field station facilities available for faculty and doctoral research include the Center for Science and Education, with laboratory, teaching, and computer areas; the Forest Lodge and the Old Headquarters Building for overnight visitors and conferences; and a Solar Pavilion that provides protected outdoor learning and gathering space. 

The Hayden Planetarium

RGGS Hayden

Since 1935, the Hayden Planetarium has served as the premier conduit between the frontier of cosmic discovery and the public’s appreciation of it. Operating through the Astrophysics Department (Division of Physical Sciences), the Planetarium conducts, interprets, and brings frontier astrophysics research into the educational offerings of the American Museum of Natural History. More than one-hundred books on the universe have been authored by staff of the Hayden Planetarium in the 20th century. The institutional identity of the Hayden Planetarium has conventionally (and successfully) flowed through this and countless other high-profile public outreach activities of its staff, most of which extended well-beyond the walls of the institution. 

Physical Sciences Research Facilities

Cameca SX5 Tactis Electron Microprobe
Electron Microprobe

Scientists in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences perform a wide range of collections-based research, with a focus on basic mineralogy, petrology, crystallography, and isotope and trace element geochemistry. Researchers and students have access to a broad suite of geological sample preparation facilities, including ultra-fine saws and microsampling devices. Analytical tools include an SX5/Tactis electron microprobe, FTIR lab, and x-ray microdiffractometer. The EPS experimental petrology laboratory includes a high-precision balance, and facilities for exploring rock and mineral behavior at high pressures and temperatures.