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AMNH Reopens Theodore Roosevelt Memorial and Hall of North American Mammals, 10/27

After three years and an extensive $40 million renovation, the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial at the American Museum of Natural History will reopen to the public with a day of celebration on October 27, 2012. The Hall of North American Mammals will reopen as the Jill and Lewis Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals, with stunningly restored dioramas depicting wilderness areas and wildlife that Roosevelt's policies have helped to preserve.

In 1924, the New York State Legislature decided to honor Theodore Roosevelt with a memorial, placing it at the American Museum of Natural History in light of Roosevelt's close association with the institution and his passion for science. The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, which was completed in 1936, remains a tribute to the enduring legacy of a man often referred to as the Conservation President for his unprecedented efforts in setting aside five national parks, four game preserves, 51 bird refuges, and 18 national monuments, in addition to creating or expanding 150 national forests. Altogether, Roosevelt placed some 230 million acres under federal protection.

Rightly called the "biologist-in-chief," Roosevelt was a lifelong naturalist and native New Yorker. His father helped found the Museum, to which his son first contributed specimens at the age of 13. The two-story Memorial-which includes the Museum's iconic Central Park West façade, the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda, and the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall on the first floor-was dedicated in 1936 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and serves as New York State's official memorial to its 33rd governor and the nation's 26th president. Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates served as the lead architect for the Memorial's restoration.

On the Memorial's lower level, the re-envisioned Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall anchors what has effectively become the Museum's conservation wing, with galleries that include the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals, the Hall of Biodiversity, the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, and the Hall of North American Forests. The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall features a new exhibition that traces Roosevelt's life from budding naturalist to academically trained scientist and President who recognized the intrinsic connection between the great natural resources of this country and the democracy over which he presided. At its center, a new sculpture perfectly captures Theodore Roosevelt the naturalist and policymaker who believed that "we are not building this country of ours for a day. It is to last through the ages."

The public reopening on October 27, the 154th anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt's birth, marks the start of a yearlong celebration of TR's foundational role in the American conservation movement with a slate of special programs to connect his conservation efforts to today's conservation science and to inspire the naturalist in all of us.

"The restored Theodore Roosevelt Memorial and Hall of North American Mammals are essential destinations for all who are passionate about preserving wildlife and wild lands and celebrating America's Conservation President," said Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History. "Since the Museum's founding, our scientists have been instrumental in advancing conservation efforts on this continent and around the world, and we are proud to honor Theodore Roosevelt and his visionary leadership for the conservation movement in America."

"The leadership of Governor and President Theodore Roosevelt in conserving America's natural resources continues to benefit New Yorkers today, allowing us and our children to enjoy our country for generations to come," said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. "The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial at the American Museum of Natural History has always been an iconic and popular destination for history buffs and visitors, and the completion of its restoration is great news as the State works to promote our rich history and tourism in New York. I encourage all to visit the memorial to celebrate and learn about the life and work of President Theodore Roosevelt."

"The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial is a fitting tribute to a great New Yorker and a great naturalist," said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "Along with the Jill and Lewis Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals, this memorial will allow Museum visitors to learn more about our natural world and the importance of conservation and sustainability."

"Public investment in our City's great institutions is crucial to the cultural and educational life of New Yorkers, but it is also essential to our economic well being," said Christine Quinn, Speaker of the New York City Council. "Every year, millions of tourists visit our City to enjoy our world-class museums and cultural institutions, including, of course, the American Museum of Natural History. The Museum's Central Park West restoration will offer one more reason."

"No institution is better suited than the American Museum of Natural History to tell the incredible story of Theodore Roosevelt's brave leadership role in spearheading the conservation movement of the early 20th century," said Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University. "The Museum is the cradle of conservation in the United States, with its chief promoter being Theodore Roosevelt, and they partnered together to create a revolution of natural preservation. With today's problems of unprecedented stress on the global environment, our 26th President's stalwart resolution to protect our natural resources and wilderness areas are inspirational."

"Most Americans are familiar with Theodore Roosevelt's legacy as President of the United States, but few fully appreciate his lifelong passion for conservation and the American wilderness," said David Hurst Thomas, curator in the Museum's Division of Anthropology who served as the supervising curator for the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall. "Theodore Roosevelt literally grew up in our halls and laboratories, giving him an insider's view of the natural world. He became a world-class birder and would have been a stellar curatorial colleague. During his presidential and post-presidential career, his crusade to save the American wilderness left an indelible legacy, and our new exhibition tells the story of his role in preserving our natural lands for all species-including humans."

The approximately $40 million Theodore Roosevelt Memorial restoration project was completed with significant private and public support, including $23 million from the Empire State Development Corporation and $11.5 million from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Council of the City of New York, and the support of New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Beginning with a number of special events for the grand public reopening on Saturday, October 27, the Museum will host a yearlong series of programs devoted to examining the lasting legacy of Theodore Roosevelt's conservation efforts and connecting them to contemporary conservation policies and science. Upcoming programs include "Nature and Poetry: A Conversation with E. O. Wilson and Robert Hass" on December 6, featuring the noted biologist E. O. Wilson and U. S. Poet Laureate Robert Haas.

On October 27, nature lovers and Theodore Roosevelt enthusiasts can choose from a number of engaging activities to inspire the naturalist in all of us. (For more information, see the Opening Day and Yearlong Celebration Public Programming releases.)

The supervising curator for the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall was David Hurst Thomas, a curator in the Museum's Division of Anthropology.

Douglas G. Brinkley, a professor of history at Rice University, Roosevelt historian, and author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, the definitive biography of Roosevelt as a conservationist, served as a consultant for the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall. Patricia O'Toole, Roosevelt biographer and an associate professor at Columbia University, also served as a consultant.

Ross D. E. MacPhee, a curator in the Museum's Department of Mammalogy, served as supervising curator for the restoration of the Hall of North American Mammals, with Roland Kays, a professor at North Carolina State University, consulting. Artist Stephen C. Quinn, a senior project manager in the Museum's Department of Exhibition, directed the diorama restoration project.

The American Museum of Natural History, founded in 1869, is one of the world's preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions. The Museum encompasses 46 permanent exhibition halls, including the Rose Center for Earth and Space and the Hayden Planetarium, as well as galleries for temporary exhibitions. Five active research divisions and three cross-disciplinary centers support 200 scientists, whose work draws on a world-class Permanent Collection of more than 32 million specimens and artifacts, including specialized collections for frozen tissue and genomic and astrophysical data, as well as one of the largest natural history libraries in the Western Hemisphere. Through its Richard Gilder Graduate School, it is the only American museum authorized to grant the Ph.D. degree. In 2012, the Museum began offering a pilot Master of Arts in Teaching with a specialization in earth science. Approximately 5 million visitors from around the world came to the Museum last year, and its exhibitions and Space Shows can be seen in venues on five continents. The Museum's website and collection of apps for mobile devices extend its collections, exhibitions, and educational programs to millions more beyond its walls. Visit for more information.

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