The museum has a staff of more than 200. The museum sponsors over 100 special field expeditions each year.
The Museum was founded in 1869. Its first home was the Arsenal building in Central Park. In 1874, ground was broken for the present building, which occupies most of Manhattan Square. The original neo-Gothic range (1874-77), by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould, who were collaborating with Frederick Law Olmsted in structures for Central Park, was soon eclipsed by the south range of the museum, by J. C. Cady, a robust exercise in rusticated brownstone neo-Romanesque, influenced by H. H. Richardson. A triumphal Roman entrance on Central Park West, completed by John Russell Pope in 1936, is an overscaled, macho Beaux-Arts monument to Teddy Roosevelt. It leads to a vast Roman basilica, where the skeleton of a rearing Apatosaurus defending her young from an Allosaurus, is not lost in the general monumentality. The Museum is famous for its habitat groups of African, Asian and North American mammals, for the full-size model of a Blue Whale suspended in the hall of oceans (reopened in 2003), for the 62-foot Haida carved and painted war canoe from the American Northwest, and for the 'Star of India' the largest blue sapphire in the world. The circuit of a complete floor is devoted to vertebrate evolution, including the world-famous dinosaurs.
The Museum's anthropological collections are also outstanding: Halls of Asian Peoples and of Pacific Peoples, of Man in Africa, Native American collections, and collections from Mexico and Central America.
Famous names associated with AMNH have been the paleontologist and geologist Henry Fairfield Osborn, president for many years; the dinosaur-hunter of the Gobi Desert, Roy Chapman Andrews (the original of Indiana Jones), and anthropologist Margaret Mead. J. P. Morgan was among famous benefactors of the Museum.
The Hayden Planetarium, connected to the museum, is now part of the Rose Center for Earth and Space, housed in a glass cube containing the spherical Space Theater, designed by James Stewart Polshek. The Center was opened February 19, 2000.
The Museum offers a wide range of membership categories, with prices ranging from $55 for individual, to $750 for sponsors.
There are a wide variety of features available online:
- Museum shop with a wide variety of gifts categorized by kind and price range.
- Download subscriptions for handheld PCs.
- Library collection is searchable online.
- Conservation of biodiversity
- Vertebrate zoology, including
- Invertebrate zoology
- Genomics (Institute for Comparative Genomics)
- Physical sciences