American Museum of Natural History

Upper West Side 

Photo of the Theodore Roosevelt Park via Wikimedia

Surrounding the American Museum of Natural History, the Theodore Roosevelt Park stretches from 77th to 81st Streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. For years, the city has fenced off its green space, not allowing park visitors to touch the lawns. But this summer, as part of a pilot program, the city’s parks department will open two lawns in the Upper West Side park, according to the West Side Rag. From Memorial Day Weekend until September 30, the Northwest and Southwest Lawns will open to the public, officials announced at a community board meeting.

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History, Upper West Side 

Photo courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History Library

Back in 1968, the staff and contractors at the American Museum of Natural History got to constructing, mounting, and finally hanging the 94-foot fiberglass-and-polyurethane blue whale model that’s become an icon of the museum. Though the hulking whale looks like it’s been hanging from the Hall of Ocean Life ceilings since the museum’s opening, it’s actually the second version of the installation. According to Slate, the museum made the decision in the early 1960s to overhaul a paper-mâché model hung in the early 20th century because it looked outdated. The replacement was set to be nothing less than dramatic: a display to “create the illusion of having joined the whale in its own domain,” as As Alfred E. Parr, oceanographer and past director of the AMNH, wrote at the time.

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Events, Features, holidays

The holidays turn New York City into a bright, illuminated wonderland that even the biggest Scrooge among us can enjoy. While there are plenty of events to choose from, like alternative holiday markets and glittering art installations, many of these activities can be jampacked with tourists. For those looking to learn more about their own holiday traditions, or understand others, there are lots of low-key, educational events perfect for history buffs looking for a quieter holiday experience. Ahead, check out 6sqft’s guide to the best holiday events in New York City that come with a historical twist, from Christmas to Hanukkah to Kwanzaa.

This way for our top-10 picks

Design, Upper West Side 

Conceptual rendering of the south entrance to the new Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, from the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites. Visitors will be greeted by 9- and 12-foot amethyst geodes. Courtesy of Ralph Appelbaum Associates.

The giant blue whale and equally massive dinos might get all the glory at the American Museum of Natural History, but a new acquisition is bringing another exhibit into the extra-large club. This morning, the institution unveiled a 12-foot-tall, 9,000+ pound amethyst geode from Uruguay (one of the largest in the world) that will anchor its all-new Halls of Gems and Minerals. Ralph Appelbaum Associates is handling the renovation of the 11,000-square-foot space, which is being designed in anticipation of AMNH’s upcoming $340 million expansion by starchitect Jeanne Gang. The Halls previously ended in a cul-de-sac but the new Halls will feature a “stunning Crystalline Pass” to connect to Studio Gang’s 235,000-square-foot Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation.

See all the renderings and watch a timelapse video of the geode’s installation

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Events, Features, holidays

Roses and chocolate are nice, but why go the traditional route when the city has so much more to offer for Valentine’s Day. Show your significant other, spouse, or best friend how much they mean to you with one of these ten alternative events that 6sqft rounded up throughout the city. From a wastewater treatment plant tour, to after-hours museum visits, to a romantic evening at the planetarium, these are the perfect ideas for urbanists, historians, and art lovers.

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New Developments, Starchitecture, Upper West Side 

American Museum of Natural History, Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang, Richard Gilder Center for Science Education and Innovation

After the architects at Studio Gang tweaked their proposal for the American Museum of Natural History expansion to preserve more public parkland out front, the Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved the plans in October. And now that things are moving ahead, and the price has jumped from $325 to $340 million, the institution shared new details about how the 235,000-square-foot Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation will operate. The update comes with a fresh set of interior renderings, which include views of the Butterfly Vivarium, Insectarium, and other educational spaces.

All the renderings and details this way

Landmarks Preservation Commission, Starchitecture, Upper West Side 

American Museum of Natural History, Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang, Richard Gilder Center for Science Education and Innovation

After revising its expansion plan last month to preserve more public parkland, the American Museum of Natural History had its day in front of the Landmarks Preservation Commission yesterday, and as DNAinfo reports, the agency lauded the plan for a new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation, with chairwoman Meenakshi Srinivasan referring to it as a “stunning piece of architecture” and an “absolutely wonderful addition.” In making their determination, the Commission was presented with a slew of new renderings, which show the $325 million, Jeanne Gang-designed project from various angles, as well as new views of the surrounding parkland.

More renderings and next steps

Architecture, Landmarks Preservation Commission, Starchitecture, Upper West Side 

American Museum of Natural History, Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang, NYC starchitecture, NYC museum architecture

After first revealing its controversial $325 million expansion almost a year ago, the American Museum of Natural History has now filed plans with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to move ahead with the Jeanne Gang-designed project. Though, as the Wall Street Journal reports, there’s been some changes, mainly those responding to the community’s concerns over how much of the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation will encroach on Theodore Roosevelt Park, a city-owned space near the back of the museum at 79th Street.

The new curving Center will occupy one-quarter of an acre of the park, and two historic trees–a 125-year-old English elm and a 75-year-old pin oak tree– will be preserved. Therefore, the public space leading into the museum will have better circulation and more gathering spaces.

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Architecture, Starchitecture, Upper West Side 

American Museum of Natural History, Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang, NYC starchitecture, NYC museum architecture

One of the many things that makes the American Museum of Natural History so fascinating is its combination of architecture–very different styles from varying time periods that together make up 25 separate structures. The original Victorian Gothic building was erected in 1877, followed and eclipsed quickly by the southern neo-Romanesque stretch. Then, in 1936, the grand Beaux-Arts entrance was added, and in 2000 the famous glass box known as the Rose Center for Earth and Space was built. Now, the museum is growing yet again, reports the Times, this time with a $325 million expansion courtesy of Studio Gang. In addition to its hefty price tag and undulating form, the addition is significant for the fact that it will be the first female-led project associated with the museum structure, as the firm is headed up by starchitect Jeanne Gang.

The Times calls the concept for the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation “both cautious and audacious,” noting that it “consumes less coveted park space than expected, while introducing a contemporary aesthetic that evokes Frank Gehry’s museum in Bilbao, Spain, in its undulating exterior and Turkey’s underground city of Cappadocia in its cavelike interior.” The new 218,00-square-foot Center will help solve circulation issues (it will create more than 30 access points across ten buildings) and will be an integrated space for museum activities and research.

More renderings and details ahead

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Architecture, Art, Art nerd ny, Events, Features

natural history museum under the whale sleepover

Image via Wendy Perrin

In a city where hundreds of interesting happenings occur each week, it can be hard to pick and choose your way to a fulfilling life. Art Nerd‘s philosophy is a combination of observation, participation, education and of course a party to create the ultimate well-rounded week. Jump ahead for Art Nerd founder Lori Zimmer’s top end of week picks for 6sqft readers!

A weekend of adventure awaits your beckoning call. Choose your own adventure: a cruise on the high seas whilst dressed as a sea monster (or sea siren if that’s your preference), sleep amidst the taxidermy animals at an adult sleepover hosted by the American Museum of Natural History, or get dirty and explore “Old New York” through trash at Dead Horse Bay with Abandoned NYC.

Feeling less adventurous? You can always learn about our ever-changing city at Van Alen’s latest exhibition with the Gentrification Lab NYC, which reconnects the role of architecture with expansion. Try out a different kind of studio visit with dancer and artist Jillian Peña, who will perform her new architecturally-influenced dance and actually take time to explain it to visitors, or check a screening of the Swedish film making waves with its representation of transgender life at Pioneer Works. Enjoy the new José Parlá pieces outdoors at The Standard High Line while sipping cocktails from the garden. Lastly, trek to Times Square late at night as artists Os Gemeos take over the ad screens for Midnight Moment all month long.

All the best events to check out here


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