The Nature of Color

Wed Apr 21, 2021 - Sun Dec 5, 2021- see all dates
10:00am to 5:30pm ET
All Ages
Included with admission
American Museum of Natural History

Where do the colors in diamonds and rainbows come from? How have some animals benefited by evolving to stand out, while others survive by blending in? Why do some colors make us happy while others make us, well, blue?

The Nature of Color reveals how color carries information in nature—where organisms use it to find food, warn off predators, and conceal or reveal themselves—and across cultures, where different colors can signal a wide range of meanings, from good luck to power to a sense of urgency.

This fun, family-friendly exhibition features models, cultural objects, media, and interactive exhibits that invite visitors to play and experiment while exploring the science of color, how it makes us feel, how it is perceived across cultures, the history of color production, and how plants and animals use color to help them survive and reproduce.

  • Visitors explore the physics of color in an immersive color-changing room and a light lab with hands-on activities to discover that white light is actually a mixture of colors
  • play a game show interactive—on kiosks or from mobile devices—that examines how colors affect emotions, alertness, perception of time, appetite, and much more
  • “paint” without the mess in a floor-to-ceiling color play interactive just by moving their hands
  • come face to face with three live species that rely on their unique coloration for survival: the leaf-tailed gecko, which evolved to blend in with dried leaves and tree bark; the golden poison frog, among the most colorful creatures on Earth, whose skin contains a deadly poison traditionally used in hunting darts; and iridescent blue beetles
  • A section on making color explores the rich history of blue pigments in particular, with objects from the Museum’s anthropological collection and an interactive that demonstrate the process of dying indigo fabric, which was used to create the dark blue hues of Japanese artwork, African textiles, and the first blue jeans
  • Several hands-on interactives explore the many ways in which objects can produce color
  • And a variety of striking exhibits demonstrate how the meaning of certain colors can vary greatly when used for special occasions, as identity markers, as symbols for nations, teams, communities, and more.

Timed ticket entry only.

** Activity dates/times are subject to change. Please click through to the activity website to verify.
** Please keep your family and others safe by wearing masks and social distancing. If an activity appears too crowded, try using the "nearby" search feature on our activity calendar to find something else to do.
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