Explore The Nature of Color at the American Museum of Natural History

Play with light and color at the American Museum of Natural History's
Play with light and color at the American Museum of Natural History's "The Nature of Color," which is newly reopened along with the rest of the museum. Photo by D. Finnin/courtesy AMNH
9/8/20 - By Katie Nave

After a months-long shutdown, the American Museum of Natural History is on the brink of reopening Wednesday, September 9, and its special exhibition hall is aglow with the vibrant The Nature of Color exhibit, which lets visitors explore the role and power of color in the natural world, human cultures, and in our personal lives.

The Nature of Color reveals how color carries information in nature—where organisms use it to find food, ward 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.

While museum visitors may be anxious to see the famous dioramas or the towering T. Rex and its prehistoric dinosaur friends, this colorful, rainbow-hued exhibition is destination-worthy on its own, once you've nabbed your (now-required) timed-entry tickets to the museum. Get the details on how to snag your tickets to AMNH and all the other recently reopened, or opening soon, museums here.


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Paint the walls mess free as you explore The Nature of Color. Photo by A. Mickens/courtesy of AMNH

The family-friendly exhibition features a whole host of experiences that invite families to explore the science of color and interact with the rainbow. An interactive Q&A encourages visitors to discover how colors make us feel and how they are presented across cultures.

The immersive floor-to-ceiling color play area is a must-visit destination. The entire family can dance and create, here thanks to screens of digital, touchless “paint.”

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Visit a colorful array of animals who rely on hue to survive. Photo by R. Mickens/AMNH

There are plenty of educational opportunities and nods to how color plays a key role in nature. From the bright yellow golden poison frog to the leaf-tailed geckoes, a small collection of live animals in the exhibit helps visitors to understand the essential role color plays in keeping these fascinating creatures safe. 

Adults will love the nod to color in the fashion world, especially the striking red chiffon and organza gown on display, created by designer Brandon Maxwell. The installation of portraits by Brazilian photographer Angélica Dass, showcases the diversity of human skin tones and is not to be missed.

"Color is all around us, shaping our emotions, our actions, and our surroundings, yet we often take it for granted," said Museum President Ellen V. Futter. "This immersive exhibition will explore the role and power of color in the natural world, in human cultures, and in our personal lives. A key component of the Museum’s 150th Anniversary celebration, this exhibition does what the Museum does best: Explore the intersection of science, nature, and culture in ways that are engaging and exciting."

Know Before You Go

  • The American Museum of Natural History reopens Wednesday, September 9 and timed-entry tickets are required.
  • Museum capacity is limited to 25 percent for the time being.
  • AMNH is open Wednesdays-Sundays from 10am-5:30pm
  • Temperature checks are required prior to entry.
  • Safety precautions include increased cleaning and disinfecting, plexiglass barriers at ticket counters, upgraded ventilation, markers to promote physical distancing, limiting capacity in elevators and restrooms, and providing increased access to hand-sanitizing stations throughout the museum.
  • Beware that exhibits with interactive displays and touchable elements have been turned off or cordoned off to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • The Nature of Color is open through Sunday, August 8, 2021.

Visit the museum’s website for more information and check out our museum guide for additional destinations.

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