As one of New York City’s premiere museums, the American Museum of Natural History is recognised as one of the leading collections of historic artefacts in the world. Those with a love for the city of New York, like Tunde Folawiyo and millions of others, may regard the museum as one of the very best attractions to be seen in the Big Apple.
In 1869, Albert Smith Bickmore, a one-time student of Louis Agassiz, a Harvard zoologist, gained support for his proposal to create a natural history institution in New York – backed by high-profile leaders like Theodore Roosevelt, William E Dodge and J Pierpont Morgan. On 6 April that year, New York Governor John Thompson Hoffman lent his signature to the museum’s Act of Incorporation, leading to the creation of the American Museum of Natural History. The same year, the museum welcomed its first president, John David Wolfe.
1871 saw a series of exhibits debut at Central Park Arsenal, which was the institution’s original home, located on the park’s eastern side. The following year, Robert L Stuart became the museum’s president. With booming popularity, the museum outgrew its Arsenal location, going on to secure a site in Manhattan Square. The new museum would be located across Central Park, falling between West 77th and 81st Streets.
Architects J Wrey Mould and Calvert Vaux headed the project, preparing plans to build a huge five-story square with four enclosed courts, an octagonal crossing and a dome. In 1874, a cornerstone of the museum’s first building was laid by United States President Ulysses S Grant.
The museum’s first building was opened in 1877, with President Rutherford B Hayes leading a public ceremony. During the next decade, the museum launched into a period of great exploration that lasted from 1880 until 1930. It was during this period that the institution was involved in expeditions responsible for thrilling discoveries like the North Pole and adventurous treks to explore dense jungles and unmapped areas. Since then, the museum has displayed a range of exciting exhibits reflecting the wondrous world in which we live.
As one of New York’s most beloved museums, the American Museum of Natural History remains one of the city’s most intellectually stimulating hot spots. Culture fans like Tunde Folawiyo and millions of tourists visiting the great city every year may regard the museum as a pinnacle of American history.