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The American Museum of Natural History's Origami Tree is Now on Display

The American Museum of Natural History's Origami Tree is Now on Display

The 13-foot tree boasts one thousand brilliantly colored origami cranes.

The American Museum of Natural History’s Origami Holiday Tree, an annual museum tradition, opens to the public today. This year’s theme is Cranes and Colors and will feature 1,000 brilliantly colored origami cranes presented as symbols of peace and good wishes for New York as it continues to face the many challenges brought on by COVID-19. It also draws inspiration from The Nature of Color, one of the museum’s newest special exhibits that explores color in the natural world.

The tree–which is the 49th Origami Holiday Tree, continuing a tradition that began in the 1970s–stands 13 feet tall and features hundreds of other models including a realistic T. rex tree topper. Look out for the Where’s Waldo?-inspired crane. Hint: It will have glasses! The tree is created by Ros Joyce and Talo Kawasaki, volunteers from OrigamiUSA. They go through the museum for inspiration when creating the tree each year. 

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"Often, we see something in the museum that we want on the tree that has never been folded, so we have to design a model and find a way to fold it," Joyce says.

Some highlights of trees past include a 40-year-old model of a pterosaur, a ferocious saber-tooth tiger, and a giant star made up of more than 30 smaller pieces that decorated the top of a tree. 

"It's a long process but it's a labor of love," Joyce says. "In the end, it's all worth it to see the kids and adults light up when they see the tree year after year."

The American Museum of Natural History will host a series of virtual origami folding tutorials throughout the holiday season, with the first on Dec. 3 at 2pm. Kawasaki will teach viewers to fold a swimming koi fish in the first session. Other sessions will occur on Dec. 8 and Dec. 15 with details to come on the museum's website.

Museum attendance remains at 25-percent capacity to allow for social distancing. With reduced capacity, visitors will have a unique, intimate opportunity to view the Origami Tree and to enjoy beloved museum exhibits including the blue whale, T. rex, or The Titanosaur.

The Origami Holiday Tree is located in the Grand Gallery on the first floor of the museum. It will be on display through Jan. 10, 2021, Wednesday-Sunday, 10am-5:30pm. To visit the museum, make an advance ticket reservation on

Main image by D. Finnin/©AMNH

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Melissa Wickes

Author: Melissa Wickes is a graduate of Binghamton University and the NYU Summer Publishing Institute. She's written hundreds of articles to help New York parents make better decisions for their families. When she's not writing, you can find her eating pasta, playing guitar, or watching reality TV. See More

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