Streaming in from the park surrounding the American Museum of Natural History early Wednesday morning, the assembling editors and writers of the science and architectural press had as always to be guided through the maze of long corridors at the northern end of the giant museum, with its 28 interconnected buildings housing 45 permanent exhibition halls, at every corner by young staffers of the public relations department of the nation’s biggest institution of its kind until they landed in the Powerhouse presentation room where they could sit down at large round tables with their choice of crisp bacon, scrambled eggs, blueberry and raspberry topped cereal on whipped cream, coffee and orange juice, while networking and anticipating a major newsworthy announcement, and they were not disappointed when they were called to attention to hear Ellen Fetter, the museum president who before 1993 headed Barnard College after becoming the first woman chairman of the Federal Reserve, who won the 2014 Rachel Carson Award of the Audubon Society for expanding science education, followed by the engaging and ebullient Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist director of the Hayden Planetarium whose distinction in promoting science understanding among laymen is matched by the asteroid (13123Tyson) named after him, who introduced a panel of himself and five other museum and architectural luminaries to explain the project planned for 2020, which turned out to be a strikingly innovative new building to be placed alongside the established museum in the adjoining park alongside Columbus Avenue and named the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation, which in itself will be a great innovation, revolutionary in layout and scope as an architectural realization of the interconnected functions of the museum and its science, which like some giant concrete organism full of curving and bending walls, spaces and walkways lit with daylight will form a holistic model of a science museum center, replacing the hide and seek serendipity of the present massive labyrinth where almost every change of venue sought by newcomers has to be guided by guards standing by will be replaced by a path breaking architectural feat where the concept of flow will rule, for as the architect of this work of engineering art, the innovative MacArthur fellow Jeanne Gang, who was last year saluted as Architect of the Year by Architecture Review for her interdisciplinary approach, explained from her seat on stage “flow is a key concept for us, we took our cue from the natural forces of the planet”, which she has applied to physically open up the boundaries between the multi faceted activities of the 1874 Museum so that as she put it, “the moment you enter you encounter the full scope of its operation,” with exhibition space to show a substantial addition to the 3.9 million items now on display, which are hardly more than a tenth of the current collection, intended to intrigue and educate two million more visitors a year on top of the current five million, adults and many children who will now be able to move very easily between the departments both physically and on the mental level to understand how it all fits together, and thus help to achieve the policy objectives of the research based museum which especially include fostering many more scientists among children who would not otherwise “manifest” as Tyson put it for lack of exposure and opportunity, and it is hoped teaching uninformed political leaders to fully appreciate the scope of life on earth and the current grave danger that the planet will become uninhabitable, a presentation which was followed by the journalists surrounding the speakers individually and eventually Neil Tyson sitting at a round table with attentive scribes explaining why the CERN Large Hadron Collider was not as some critics claimed a danger to the existence of the planet.
Initial PR: Media Briefing – January 11
Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History, cordially invites you to a media breakfast and briefing about the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation.
Presentations by Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang Architects, and Ralph Appelbaum, Ralph Appelbaum Associates.
A discussion about science, technology, education, and design moderated by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, will follow the presentation.
Opening in 2020, the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation will invite visitors to experience the Museum as both a place of public exhibitions and an active scientific and educational institution. The Gilder Center will include new exhibition and learning spaces with state-of-the-art technology and will provide unprecedented access to the Museum’s superb collections. Designed by Studio Gang Architects, with exhibit design by Ralph Appelbaum Associates and a new landscape design for the adjacent Theodore Roosevelt Park by Reed Hilderbrand, the 235,000-square-foot Gilder Center will expand access to the Museum’s resources for students, teachers, families, and the general public, offering new learning opportunities and enabling everyone to share in the excitement of discovery.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017 9:30 am
The Powerhouse at the American Museum of Natural History
Enter through the Rose Center for Earth and Space on West 81st Street, between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West.
R.S.V.P. to firstname.lastname@example.org
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192