Treasures of New York – American Museum of Natural History

Air date: 05/05/2013

Treasures of New York: American Museum of Natural History premieres on Thursday, May 2, at 8pm on WLIW and Sunday, May 5,at 7pm on THIRTEEN


Hosted by Tom Brokaw, the film explores the rich history of the iconic museum and its recent renovations, including the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial and Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals


“There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country” – Theodore Roosevelt.

For nearly 150 years, the American Museum of Natural History has been a venerated enclave of science and natural history and one of the world’s leading research and educational institutions. The largest of its kind in the world, the Museum is comprised of 45 exhibition halls and houses over 32 million specimens and artifacts including thousands of dinosaur fossils, minerals, meteorites, butterflies, as well as specialized collections for frozen tissue and genomic and astrophysical data.  The Museum is also known for its exhibits, including the iconic 94-foot blue whale model.

Hosted by Tom Brokaw, Treasures of New York: American Museum of Natural History gives viewers an unprecedented inside look at the Museum and the recent renovations of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial and the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals, and airs Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 8 p.m. on WLIW21 and Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 7 p.m. on THIRTEEN, with encore presentations at Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 3:30 p.m. on WLIW21 and Friday, May 10, 2013 at 10 p.m. on THIRTEEN. After broadcast, the film will be available to national audiences at The website offers past episodes and conversations with visionaries behind New York’s greatest institutions.

The American Museum of Natural History was established in 1869 by a group of civic-minded patrons that included Theodore Roosevelt Sr., father of the future President of the United States. An avid naturalist, collector, taxidermist, explorer, and politician, President Theodore Roosevelt’s devotion to wildlife conservation played an invaluable role in the Museum’s early days, and the Museum encouraged in Roosevelt a lifelong commitment to both the institution and a personal passion for exploration and conservation.  Roosevelt oversaw the creation or expansion of 150 national forests, five national parks, four national game preserves, all together placing 230 million acres under federal protection, ultimately defining him as the Conservation President.  In 1924, five years after Roosevelt’s death, the New York State Legislature passed an act to establish a memorial to the late President, a new building that would serve as the main entrance to the Museum on Central Park West, adorned with a bronze equestrian statue of the President.

At the turn of the 20th century, the Museum was affiliated with expeditions to five continents, during which explorers collected thousands of specimens. But in the days before wildlife photography the explorer had no way to show the public what they saw in the field. With the Industrial Revolution depleting natural resources and threatening species, Museum curators, including Frank Chapman, began pioneering and perfecting the habitat diorama, a new exhibit technique that allowed visitors to have a personal encounter with nature.  All together, the Museum has commissioned over 250 habitat and small-scale dioramas organized in several halls, inspiring generations of Museum visitors from the early 1900s to the present day.

In 2008, Museum personnel noticed the need for a major restoration to the beloved Hall of North American Mammals.  Following a team of scientists, conservators, artists, a taxidermist, and several interns and volunteers, Treasures of New York: American Museum of Natural History gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the restoration of the spectacular dioramas in this gallery, as well as the reimagined Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall, relinking the President’s conservation legacy to the Museum.

“We are honored to be one of WNET’s Treasures of New York, and delighted to have the opportunity to share the Museum’s rich and fascinating story with a broad audience,” said Ellen V. Futter, President.  “For well over a century, the Museum has advanced its global mission to discover, interpret, and disseminate information about the natural world, human cultures and the universe through a wide-reaching program of scientific research, education, exhibitions, and, increasingly, through digital media.  Today, the Museum brings its unique combination of resources and expertise to bear on some of the 21st century’s most pressing issues, including by playing a leadership role in environmental conservation around the world.”

Treasures of New York: American Museum of Natural History is a production of WLIW21, in association with WNET, the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, New York’s public television stations and operator of NJTV.

Mary Lockhart is executive producer of the Treasures of New York: American Museum of Natural History program. Diane Masciale is executive producer of the Treasures of New York series and local programming. Executive-in-Charge of Production is John Servidio.

Treasures of New York explores New York’s cultural heritage by spotlighting its points of interest, distinguished establishments and notable figures.  Treasures of New York: American Museum of Natural History is funded by Rosalind P. Walter and Judy and Josh Weston.

For 50 years, THIRTEEN has been making the most of the rich resources and passionate people of New York and the world, reaching millions of people with on-air and online programming that celebrates arts and culture, offers insightful commentary on the news of the day, explores the worlds of science and nature, and invites students of all ages to have fun while learning.


About WNET
In 2013, WNET is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THIRTEEN, New York’s flagship public media provider. As the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and the operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Need to Know, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah!  and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJ Today and, MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region.


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