From the lobby the visitor enters Memorial Hall, an oblong room of quiet impressiveness, with wall niches containing the marble busts m of noteworthy pioneers of American science, the gift of Morris K. Jesup, a founder, trustee and benefactor of the American Museum of Natural History and for twenty-seven years its President. The marble statue of Mr. Jesup has been erected by the Trustees and a few other friends, in recognition of his munificent benefactions to the institution.
Circling this same hall is a portion of the Museum's collection of meteorites, popularly known as shooting stars. This meteorites ranging in weight from a few pounds to thirty-six tons. The greater number of meteorites are stony, but the more interesting are composed chiefly of iron, while certain of them contain both stone and iron. The toughness of iron meteorites is due to the presence of nickel, and the fact that they were so difficult to cut led to the adoption of an alloy of nickel and iron in making the armor plate for battleships. Meteorites have a very definite structure and when polished(see specimen on the right with electric lamp) show characteristic lines which together with their composition are, to the expert, absolute proof that the specimens are meteorites.
"Ahnighito," or "The Tent," at the left, is the largest known meteorite and was brought from Cape York, Green-land, by Rear Admiral Peary. It weighs thirty-six and one half tons, and its transportation to New York was an engineering feat. Opposite, at the right, is the curiously pitted "Willamette" meteorite from Oregon. The smaller meteorites will be found in the Hall of Geology, fourth floor.
The visitor's tour of the American Museum of Natural History must depend entirely on the time he has at his disposal. If it is his intention to visit but one hall devoted to a particular branch of science, it would be well to consult the Directory facing the elevators on the first floor of the Museum. Otherwise it is best to refer to the floor plans in this Guide.
Leaving the statue on the left and the "Willamette" meteorite on the right, the visitor proceeds east and enters the East Corridor, where the elevators and a Directory of the building are located. Here will be found maps of the north and south polar regions showing the routes of explorers. On the wall by the north polar map is the sledge used by Admiral Peary in his last expedition in search of the north pole and also one of the sledges used by Amundsen in his journey to the south pole. A study of these sledges readily shows the differences in construction followed by these successful explorers. Thence we enter the
HALL OF NORTH AMERICAN FORESTRY
This hall contains the Morris K. Jesup Collection of North American Woods, a collection designed for the student, artisan and forester, those interested commercially as well as those desiring to increase their knowledge of the woodland. In its completeness and attractiveness, its scientific correctness and educational value, the collection is a splendid example of what such an exhibition should be.
The collection was begun by Mr. Jesup in 1880 for the American Museum of Natural History, and throughout his entire presidency it received his constant attention. In its perfected condition it displays in related groups or families more than five hundred species of North American trees. Each tree is represented by a section of trunk, five feet high, cut lengthwise radially two and one quarter feet, the cut surface showing the color and graining of the quartered lumber in its natural and polished state. Accompanying many of the specimens are wax models of leaves,- flowers and fruit. Attention is called particularly to the flowers of the decorative magnolias, of the basswood, interesting to bee keepers, to the curious fruits of the sassafras, persimmon and Osage orange and to the autumn foliage of oak, sweet gum and sumach.
The most conspicuous specimen is a section of the Big Tree, "Mark Twain" (Sequoia washingtoniana), cut about twelve feet from the base. The section is sixteen and one half feet in diameter, and according to the annual rings was 1341 years old when cut down in the autumn of 1891.
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