Rose Center for Earth and Space, American Museum of Natural History

New York, New York

The transformed Hayden Planetarium, a twenty-first-century international center for the study of astronomy and earth sciences, takes visitors on a journey from the outer reaches of space to the inner workings of Earth.

Visitors receive up-to-date information through hands-on exhibits. Scholarly curation, media, real-time feeds, images, kinetic models, and advanced computer graphics illustrate astrophysics, astronomy, and earth science for an audience of all ages and backgrounds. Components—the Planetarium, Scales of the Universe exhibits, Big Bang Theater, Spiral Through Cosmic Evolution, and the Hall of the Universe—are structured in a sequential narrative that facilitates recall. Sound effects, audio narration, and background effects support an array of exhibition techniques: interactive and participatory media, mini-theaters, custom 3-D visualizations, the world’s largest terrarium, and the center's largest artifact: the fifteen-and-a-half-ton Willamette Meteorite, so heavy the building was constructed around it.

The design process involved collaboration with architects, designers, scientists, and educators. The building is a learning tool and a visible expression of the science it contains. The Rose Center's startling glass-cube exterior, the enormous Hayden Sphere visible within it, is one of New York City’s most striking architectural icons as well as one of its premier tourist attractions.

American Museum of Natural History

Polshek Partnership Architects


16,000 square feet 

  • Society of Environmental Graphic Design Exhibition, Select Award Winners of the Last Decade

  • I.D. Annual Design Review, Honorable Mention Award in Environments 

  • The Art Directors Club 80th Annual Awards, Distinctive Merit Award

  • Ceramic Tiles of Italy Design Competition, Assopiastrelle (The Association of Italian Ceramic Tile Manufacturers) and the Italian Trade Commission, Special Award for Mosaic Design and Installation

  • Industrial Designers Society of America, Gold Industrial Design Excellence Award for Museum Exhibits and Set Design

  • Society for Environmental Graphic Design, Merit Award for Exhibition Design/Museum Environments

© 2014, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Inc.