The American Museum of Natural History released design plans for a planned expansion that has drawn sharp criticism from the museum’s Upper West Side neighbors.
The Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation will expand the museum’s footprint on the Columbus Avenue side of the museum at 79th Street.
Community groups have complained that the expansion will encroach on Teddy Roosevelt Park, and have asked the museum to reconsider its plans.
In a statement Thursday, a group calling itself Defenders of Teddy Roosevelt Park said that even though the design plans call for a smaller incursion into the park than had been feared, the expansion still raises serious questions.
“While the plan would take less parkland than originally indicated by the museum, the extensive loss of green space and mature trees – along with other important issues – is still cause for deep concern,” the statement said. “We certainly will examine the AMNH plan carefully. However, we have opposed any loss of parkland and trees because the endangered site is such a precious community gathering place. We also are concerned about the added congestion in a crowded neighborhood, the impact on the environment and the precedent of taking parkland for museum purposes. Where will that end?”
Museum President Ellen Futter said in her own statement that the expansion will enable the institution to expand its educational offerings.
“The Gilder Center embraces the museum’s integrated mission and growing role in scientific research and education and its enhanced capacity to make its extensive resources even more fully accessible to the public,” Futter said. “It will connect scientific facilities and collections to innovative exhibition and learning spaces featuring the latest digital and technological tools. Jeanne Gang’s thrilling design facilitates a new kind of fluid, cross-disciplinary journey through the natural world while respecting the museum’s park setting.”
A public hearing on the plans has been scheduled for Thursday, November 12, from 6:30pm-8:30pm, at the museum.