Science, Education and Innovation – The Richard Gilder Center by Studio Gang
The Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation is a thrilling new architectural addition to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Designed by Studio Gang, the learning hub embodies the excitement of scientific discovery, engaging visitors in immersive spaces that recall undulating canyons and other geographic phenomena.
Emphasising the significant role of natural history collections in supporting the scientific process, the Gilder Center aligns with a museum-wide mission to capture public interest and celebrate scientific methodology. The 21,300-square-metre project also establishes pathways across the four-block museum campus, resulting in 33 connections amongst 10 buildings. Clad in Milford pink granite – the same stone used on the Central Park West entrance – the exterior references geological motifs with layers of granite and bird-safe fritted glass drawn into a single undulating structure. The stone panels are laid in a diagonal pattern so as to be coherent with a section of museum that faces onto 77th Street.
Inspired by the ways that wind and water carve out landscapes, as well as the sculptural effect of hot water on blocks of ice, the interior of the Gilder Center emulates the grandeur of a gently contoured natural mass. Upon entry, a combination of bridges and openings guides visitors across the five-storey Kenneth C. Griffin Exploration Atrium towards new exhibition galleries, education spaces and collections facilities. On the east side of the atrium, a wide staircase provides space for both walking between levels and resting, with a large portion utilising walnut-covered treads and high-risers.
An abundance of exhibits and proffered experiences ensures that the Gilder Center is a place of enrichment. Showcasing the impressive breadth of the museum’s collections, the Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Collections Core dedicates three of its five levels to exhibits that extend from floor to ceiling. In contrast, the Davis Family Butterfly Vivarium allows visitors to encounter up to 1,000 free-flying butterflies along a meandering path. Elsewhere, the Susan and Peter J. Solomon Family Insectarium highlights the critical role of insects on Earth. Visitors can catch glimpses of working collection areas at the Macaulay Family Foundation Collection Galleries, while Invisible Worlds offers a 360-degree immersive science-and-art experience, representing the future of scientific visualisation.
Inspired by the ways that wind and water carve out landscapes, as well as the sculptural effect of hot water on blocks of ice, the interior of the Gilder Center emulates the grandeur of a gently contoured natural mass.
“The Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation is a glorious new facility that fulfils a critical need at a critical time: to help visitors to understand the natural world more deeply, to appreciate that all life is interdependent, to trust science, and to be inspired to protect our precious planet,” says Ellen Futter, President Emerita of the American Museum of Natural History. “This opening represents a milestone moment for the Museum in its ongoing efforts to improve science literacy.”