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The Most Colorful Exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History Opens on Monday

The Most Colorful Exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History Opens on Monday

The new, family-friendly exhibit will make you think about color in a whole new way

The American Museum of Natural History's newest exhibit The Nature of Color, opens on Monday, March 6 and highlights color's role in the natural world—from the behaviors of living organisms to our emotions and cultures. The exhibit invites guests of all ages to play with, experiment with, and learn about color through models, cultural objects, media, interactive exhibits, games, and light. Explore the physics of color, learn how color affects your emotions, and take a second to appreciate the beautiful color that surrounds us.

Have you ever thought about how color can represent information in nature? Organisms use it to find food, conceal or reveal themselves, and to warn off predators. You'll see a number of colors in plants and even living creatures in this exhibit.


The golden poison frog uses its eye-catching colors to attract prey.


The leaf-tailed gecko uses color to camouflage with dried leaves and tree bark.


The iridescent beetle (Sagra femorata)


Color can carry many different meanings depending on place, time period, and culture. For example, the Red Room highlights how red can mean status, power, and fertility while simultaneously representing sports teams, political parties, and religions.  The centerpiece of this room is a diaphanous red chiffon and organza gown created especially for the Red Room by fashion designer Brandon Maxwell. 

Maxwell says he chose the color red for the dress because he sees it as an inherently powerful color.


The dress was the finale in Maxwell's Fall-Winter 2020 show, hosted by AMNH during New York Fashion Week in February.


The exhibit also allows us to explore how color is made, how colors affect our mood, and the physics of color. Play a video interactive game that examines how color affects emotions, "paint" in a floor-to-ceiling color play interactive, explore the physics of color in an immersive color-changing room and a light lab, and so much more.


Share your personal reactions to colors on a big screen in The Yellow Room.


Mix colors in the shadow theater.


In Brazilian photographer Angélica Dass' installation Humanæ, portraits showcase the range of human skin tones and celebrate the beauty and diversity of humans across the globe. The project includes 4,500 portraits that Dass captured in 35 cities across 20 different countries. Dass says she hopes that children visiting the installation will learn that there is "no skin color crayon." 


“Humanæ is a pursuit to highlight our true colors rather than the untrue white, red, black or yellow associated with race,” Dass said. “It’s a kind of game to question our codes. It’s a work in progress from a personal story to a global history.”


The Nature of Color is part of AMNH's 150th anniversary celebration. Stop by next Monday to look at color in an entirely different way.

Main Image: "Paint" without a mess in a floor-to-ceiling color play display simply by moving your hands.



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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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