6. Its Vast Library Started Out With Just One Volume

Mark Norell office at AMNH

Though the American Museum of Natural History currently has one of the largest history collections in the Western Hemisphere, it only had a single volume for quite a few years after the founding of the original museum.

According to Sci-tech Libraries in Museums and Aquariums, there was no official library at the museum’s initial home in the Arsenal Building. Bickmore himself donated the museum’s first official volume, Travels in the East Indian Archipelago, which marked the beginning of its library collection and is now in the museum’s Rare Book Section. Eventually, Bickmore handed over his whole collection and worked towards soliciting more donations (rather than purchasing books). Only when the museum moved to Manhattan Square was a formal library established in an attic.

Over the years, the library accumulated impressive amounts of works, partially due to its merging with the Department of Maps and Charts and the addition of the Photographic Collection. By 1916, it encompassed five rooms. In 1961, it moved to its current location, and now has over 550,000 volumes.