Museums: Extension of New York Museum of Natural History opened

Manhattanhenge is celebrated four times a year in New York.

Museums: Extension of New York Museum of Natural History opened

Manhattanhenge is celebrated four times a year in New York. On these days, the sun sets exactly aligned with the street network of Manhattan. Thanks to the perpendicular and flat road network with an unobstructed view of the horizon to the west and thanks to the movement of the earth around the sun, the whole or half of the sun ball then appears precisely in the high-rise canyons and illuminates the streets for a few minutes at a time. The popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson from the New York Museum of Natural History popularized the natural spectacle some time ago. The name is based on the mystical stone circle "Stonehenge" in Great Britain.

This year, for the first time, the phenomenon can be admired from the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) itself. Because its extension, which will open to visitors on Thursday (May 4th), is designed with a large glass facade. Among other things, the "Manhattanhenge" phenomenon inspired architect Jeanne Gang to create the bright, light-flooded building with curved lines, which from the inside is reminiscent of a kind of tunnel system in a mountain. The building should "attract everyone," says Gang.

The Ben Stiller film made the museum world famous

The museum in Manhattan, which opened around 150 years ago right next to Central Park, provides information on many areas of science, including animals, plants, climate change, the formation of the earth, environmental protection and space. The AMNH has been world famous since the hit comedy "Night at the Museum", in which the main actor Ben Stiller takes a job as a night watchman - and finds that the exhibits come to life at night.

The planning and construction of the approximately 22,000 square meter extension, which cost around 465 million dollars (about 420 million euros), took almost ten years, and the corona pandemic, among other things, caused numerous delays. Officially dubbed the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, the addition nestles within the multi-block museum, which is made up of many other buildings. On the one hand it offers space for exhibitions, rooms for learning and research, archive storage space and a restaurant - and on the other hand it is intended to simplify, regulate and better distribute the flow of visitors through the entire museum. Because the AMNH is one of the most popular attractions in New York and was always so overcrowded with several million visitors a year that the extension had become necessary.

Cultivation mainly shows insects

It will be a "great pleasure" to welcome visitors to the new building, said Sean Decatur, who has just become the first black man to take over the management of the museum - succeeding Ellenfutter, who for around 30 years was the first woman to head the museum institution had stood.

The museum is most famous for its giant dinosaur skeletons, as well as life-size replicas of elephants, lions and a blue whale hanging from the ceiling in an exhibition room. The exhibits in the new extension, on the other hand, are rather small: the main focus here is on insects and there are even live butterflies to admire.

But the real star is the building. The New York Times praised the building, which was financed with public funds and donations, as "spectacular": "A poetic, cheerful, theatrical work of public architecture and a highly sophisticated sculptural fantasy".