American Museum of Natural History in NYC to open state of the art Richard Gilder Center

Brittany Bell Image
Thursday, April 27, 2023
American Museum of Natural History in NYC to open new science center
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The American Museum of Natural History will open its Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation next week. Brittany Bell has the story.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The American Museum of Natural History will open its Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation next week.

The museum says that the center will highlight scientific discovery through new exhibits and programs.

"The American Museum of Natural History is one of New York's greatest treasures, making science and technology accessible to learners of all ages," New York Governor Kathy Hochul said.

The $465 million Richard Gilder Center is the latest of multiple projects over the last 30 years that have transformed the Museum's spaces.

It is 230,000-square-feet with six floors above ground, four of which are open to the public, and one below.

"As a scientist, I'm excited that the Gilder Center will reveal more of the cross-disciplinary processes of science and be a powerful springboard for an even deeper integration of the Museum's ongoing research with our exhibition program and education initiatives," Sean M. Decatur, the museum's president, said.

Jeanne Gang, founding principle and partner of international design practice Studio Gang, says the architecture of the center is for guests of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities.

"Stepping inside the large daylit atrium, you are offered glimpses of the different exhibits on multiple levels. You can let your curiosity lead you," Gang said.

Within the center, the first floor's Susan and Peter J. Solomon Family Insectarium showcases 18 species of live insects and engaging exhibits. There are interactive touch screens bringing more of these insects to life.

The Davis Family Butterfly Vivarium, located on the center's second floor, allows guests to mingle with 80 different species of free-flying butterflies. The vivarium will be open all-year round.

Volunteer Rafael Ferreira uses a feather duster to gently coax the butterflies off the ceiling at the Davis Family Butterfly Vivarium.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

"The butterflies are flying all around," said Hazel Davies, the Director of Living Exhibits. "We want it to feel like a very immersive experience. That people come in. It's a chance to get close to the butterflies, to really be able to interact with insects on a personal level."

The butterflies thrive in warm and humid environments, so people should get ready for a big temperature change as you step inside.

"So, it feels like New York in August in here," Davies said. "It is steamy. It's about 75% humidity and it's warm. The butterflies are very active in this environment."

On the center's third floor, Invisible Worlds is a 360-degree immersive experience aimed at the next generation in scientific visualization.

Visitors take in the Invisible Worlds interactive display during a media preview of the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

There are also 18 new and renovated classrooms all to help continue education beyond the museum.

"There also are classrooms dedicated to workforce preparation, and career planning for students," Decatur said. "And so introducing high school students to types of stem skills that they need for transition into jobs of the future."

The center also has a restaurant, two retail stores, and more.

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