Hall of Biodiversity


Ralph Appelbaum Associates

Practice Area


American Museum of Natural History

Project Vision

The 11,000-square-foot Hall of Biodiversity at the American Museum of Natural History was created to celebrate life’s great diversity and beauty. As well as focusing on living species, the exhibit also tells the story of mass global extinction, and how species are being lost at alarming rate through human activities. Located within a softly illuminated space are three main areas: The Spectrum of Life, the Rainforest and The Resource Center. The challenge was to explain an extensive story with different messages within a compressed space.

The first solution the design team came up with was to expand the exhibit space into an area formerly occupied by other museum services. The designers enlisted a large group of volunteers and museum preparators to create the leafy rainforest environment. Lighting design and audio-visual specialists created the imagery, video, sound, smells and lighting effects that guide visitors through the dioramas and habitats. The exhibition focuses on two “voices:” one conveys the scientific and objective information, while the second, interpretive message contains a “call to action” to prevent continued species and habitat loss. The graphic system uses different fonts and colors to differentiate between these two “voices” in the exhibition.

Project Details
Juror 1
Design Team

Ralph Appelbaum (Principal in Charge); Melanie Yae Ide, Marianne E. Schuit, Miranda K. Smith, Elisabeth Hartman Cannell, Shari Berman, Sylvia Juran, James Jeffries, Jacob Barton, Yolande Daniels, Dominique Ng, Nancy Hoerner, Ayako Hosono, Eliot Hoyt, Mia Hatgis, Mark Sweeney

Design Firm

Ralph Appelbaum Associates

Project Area

11,000 sq. ft.


Rathe Productions Inc., Showtime Exhibit Builders