New York City has provided with wise foresight for the museum that it will need in the future by setting aside for the purpose the whole of Manhattan Square, extending from Central Park to Ninth Avenue and from Seventy-seventh Street to Eighty-first Street. The south side of the building now erected provides galleries of proportions not equalled by any municipal museum, and the completed structure will surpass any national museum. New York is growing more rapidly than London and will soon be the largest city in the world, even without counting the population of the New Jersey cities which form part of its social and intellectual life. The Public Library, which has just been formally opened, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Zoological and Botanical Gardens, the buildings of Columbia University, New York University and the City College are planned in a manner fit for the greatest city in the history of the world. Its vast wealth can be put to no more worthy use than to give material expression to the dominant place that science, art and education should hold in the community.
The accompanying illustration, given here by the courtesy of the president of the museum, shows the design for the eastern facade of the great building, as sketched by the architects, Messrs. Trowbridge and Livingston. It has not been adopted by the trustees, but indicates the development that is proposed. The general style of the Romanesque architecture of the southern facade is somewhat modified in the direction of greater simplicity. The monumental building faces Central Park, and will become part of the park, being led up to by a driveway which might ultimately cross to the Metropolitan Museum.
A building of this magnitude will give ample space for the ideal development of a museum of natural history. As President Osborn has pointed out, there are three ways in which the collections should be exhibited—systematic, geographic and evolutionary. In one part of the museum, in accordance with the plan that is followed in most institutions, animals would be arranged for comparative study in accordance with their scientific relationships from whatever part of the world they may have been collected. A geographic sequence, as used by Alexander Agassiz in the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, is equally instructive. The animal life of each region is shown together. The plan is especially well adapted to anthropological exhibits. Not less important than the distribution in space is the evolution in time, and an impressive series of connecting halls is planned for the fourth floor of the east side of the building, where the visitor can pass from the dawn of life through the ages of molluscs, of fishes, of amphibians, of reptiles and of mammals, until the age of man is reached.
A great museum has two objects, neither of which can be subordinated to the other. It aims, on the one hand, to arrange exhibits which are instructive and interesting to the public and, on the other, to advance science by its expeditions and the study of its collections. Under the long and devoted presidency of Mr. Morris K. Jesup, with Dr. Hermon C. Bumpus as director during the later years, the American Museum accomplished much in both directions, but the main emphasis