American Museum of Natural History to Renovate Northwest Coast Hall

American Museum of Natural History to Renovate Northwest Coast Hall

The American Museum of Natural History will collaborate with the native communities of the Pacific Northwest Coast to renovate the Northwest Coast Hall.

In late September, the American Museum of Natural History announced a multi-year renovation project to update its Northwest Coast Hall. The project is the first in a series of construction and programming enhancements to older parts of the museum leading up to its 150th anniversary in 2020, according to a press release issued by the museum.

The Northwest Coast Hall displays thousands of artifacts from the traditional cultures of the native peoples of North America’s northwest shores, from Washington State to southern Alaska. As part of the restoration project, curators and conservation staff will consult with several Pacific Northwest Coast communities. Delegates from these groups took part in the opening of the hall more than 100 years ago and representatives from the Haida, Kwakwaka’wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, and Tlingit communities traveled to New York City for the announcement on Sept. 25.

The hall, which opened in 1899, has been beloved by generations of visitors for its extraordinary displays, including 78 totem poles and a 63-foot-long great canoe, according to the press release. The renovation project aims to conserve old favorites of the exhibit such as the totem poles as well as update the exhibit with modern representation of Northwest peoples.

The project will cost approximately $14.5 million to complete. Before the re-opening of the hall, a team of museum conservators will examine, document, and treat more than 1,000 artifacts ranging from totem poles to rattles and ceremonial masks. 

“As the Museum approaches its 150th anniversary, we are excited to refresh and enrich the Museum’s first hall and the first cultural gallery. With an eye on both history and the present, we are pleased to be enhancing this important and magnificent hall to reflect the living cultures of the Pacific Northwest,” Ellen V. Futter, president of the American Museum of Natural History said in the press release. “We are particularly gratified to be working with First Nations communities, deepening the Museum’s collaboration with indigenous communities as we prepare to enhance and enliven the gallery’s exhibits and presentations.” 

Main image: The Northwest Coast Hall, beloved by generations for its totem poles and collection of Northwest Coast cultural materials, highlights cultures and artistic expressions of the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest, from Alaska through British Columbia and Washington State, in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
©AMNH/M. Shanley


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