A rendering of the Gilder Center.

The Museum of Natural History has filed building permits for its new education center, but that doesn’t mean shovels are about to hit the ground. The museum still hasn’t completed the public review process, and is simply getting a head start on the permit review process, according to a museum spokesman. Typically, construction starts shortly after building permits are issued, but not in this case.

The New York City Parks Department is still finalizing its environmental review of the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, which is expected to be 245,000 square feet and include a new entrance to the museum off of Columbus Avenue. Local residents packed a June meeting about the review, registering complaints about the loss of parkland, likely traffic problems, and several other issues.

The city has already pledged millions to the project — with some of that coming at the discretion of City Council member Helen Rosenthal and Borough President Gale Brewer — but it hasn’t yet gotten a full public review or vote. It’s not clear when those votes will be finalized, so the museum wanted to start the process now. The timeline on the museum website indicates it hopes to start construction at some point this year, and open the new addition in 2020.

“Many projects begin code review with DOB while other approvals are being sought, because DOB review takes many months to complete and DOB’s determinations may have implications for design,” the spokesman wrote.

Read about the changes coming to the park around the museum.

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 37 comments | permalink
    1. John says:

      This project looks amazing! I’m excited to see it come to fruition.

    2. Amirite says:

      The museum is fascist.

    3. Gretchen Berger says:

      I’m sure this will go ahead, plus most of the public is all for it but not as vocal and histrionic as the NIMBYs. It will be a great addition to the museum and the neighborhood, despite the whiners.

      • Laura says:

        Thousands of signatures from residents say differently. The community is NOT in favor of losing our public park land and paying $135 Million tax payer dollars to benefit a private institution. I’m all for science, but not at the expense of our green space or health.

    4. Paul RL says:

      Yipppeeeee! Greatest news to hit the UWS in a long time!

    5. Another example where the museum moves forward without informing the community. Another example of the museum taking the neighborhood for granted, as though the permits trump the people.

      Vote Goodman, September 12, to cancel this travesty.

      • Sophie says:

        Thank you, Dr. Goodman, for making your position clear. I will be sure to NOT vote for you.

      • GG says:

        I am really starting to love you, Doc. You remind me of that movie Beetlejuice. Except you don’t have to mention the museum three times for you to appear, one time is enough.:)

        By the way, if you get elected you really think you can just wave a magic wand and end the expansion project?? Just what office do you think you are running for? Certainly not all powerful dictator of the UWS and all its inhabitants.

      • John Gibson says:

        Dr. Cary Goodman,
        I understand there are a few that aren’t fans but the overwhelming good far outweighs any negatives by any objective standard we would apply. We can’t wait around until there is 100% consensus or nothing would ever get done and nothing is easily much worse than what is proposed here.

    6. lpk says:

      But when will they remove that horribly racist statue in front of Teddy Roosevelt flanked by his black and native slaves?

      • Cat says:

        Just Google this subject and you’ll see that there are already groups protesting the statue of TR.

      • Jeff Berger says:

        The statue is NOT racist. It does not show slaves. It shows his Native guides. It reflects an earlier time and the way we saw the world. So does the museum, which features animals that were killed and then stuffed for display, something that no museum does today. The museum is a very dark and dank reminder of an earlier time in “Natural History” museums.

        However, before we go down the dangerous road of tearing down statues and monuments, I would implore all you woke, virtue signal waving progressives to read “The Commissar Vanishes” which shows what happened during Stalin’s time when people’s images were removed when they fell out of favor. If we destroy our past, we are doomed to repeat it.

        • GG says:

          yes and yes!!

        • Bob Lamm says:

          The statue outside the museum doesn’t reflect the way “we” saw the world. Jeff Berger’s “we” excludes “Native guides” and enslaved Africans and only includes people who were white. (Though, in fact, there were white people in this period of U.S. history who spoke out strongly against racism, colonialism, and imperialism.) This is exactly why the statue is racist.

          • GG says:

            Oh please!! We all read Howard Zinn…blah blah blah.

            Who’s the one being the revisionist historian now?? You….that’s who.

            Here’s some news for you…history was “racist” and white men had a large role in history. Some good, some bad and most somewhere in between.

            I think you guys have too much free time if you want a statue removed from a f&$%#ing MUSEUM!!!! it’s a MUSEUM!! You want to remove TR’s legacy? shame on you

    7. Maria Fernandez, RN says:

      The permits should not be granted to the museum. The museums board and public officials have chosen to ignore the public’s opposition This is a plan conceived out of greed and self-interest. The proposed plan is an assault to the environment. It will reduce green space in what is a public park(shame on the Parks Commissioner) It would take away sunlight and air circulation. It will destroy well established ecosystems. The plan would congest a peaceful, calm environment so needed in Manhattan. Rats would surface and affect our safety The air quality will worsen with construction and upkeep of this fossil fuel burning, grand entrance way. Stop this plan.

      • Jay says:

        Not only that, but a plague shall inherit the earth and all UWS residents will fester with boils. All because a building is being built on what is now a concrete pad.

        • JSC says:

          OMG, exactly what Jay said. LOL. I’m delighted for this new construction – AMNH is a treasure. Supporting science is more important than ever.

      • Sophie says:

        And most importantly, you personally will have to deal with construction for a few years. What a travesty. I can’t imagine any of us would want to be inconvenienced even for a few years so millions of kids and visitors can benefit in the long run.

      • H S says:

        At some point ignoring opposition is the solution that makes the most sense – especially if it isn’t significant enough and hasn’t made a strong enough case for a different alternative.

      • ws says:

        Wow that comment is silly. You will be against cancer when it is cured.

    8. Bob Lamm says:

      Thanks, lpk, for your comment about the Teddy Roosevelt statue. I don’t support or oppose the museum’s plan. I really don’t care. But it’s an intriguing commentary on what’s happening here that Cary Goodman and his supporters have so much to say about losing part of the park and so little to say about the racist statue in front of the museum. I am definitely not voting for Goodman on Sept. 12th.

    9. Judy KAss says:

      Golfer Center is a bad idea. Uprooted trees. Lost park space. Ugh!

      • Paul RL says:

        Judy, I disagree. The Upper West Side is sorely in need of a mini-putt. All we need to do is build little windmills, barns, and lighthouses over the existing rat holes.

      • ScooterStan says:

        GOLFER CENTER ???????

        It’s the “Richard GILDER Center for Science, Education, and Innovation”

        Yes, Mr. Gilder IS a Capitalist (GASP!!) AND a Philantropist who helped create:
        1. the Central Park Conservancy;
        2. the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History; and
        3. the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale.

      • Mark says:

        Is this proposed space intended to be used for benefits and other extravaganzas for the nyc richies?

        • lynn says:

          The space is intended for people who can read.

        • ScooterStan says:

          Re: “Is this proposed space intended to be used for benefits and other extravaganzas for the nyc richies?”

          Well, that’s EXACTLY what it’s used for NOW, as currently it is a bland little park known mainly TO and used mainly BY the locals of the UWS…which, b/t/w, ranks #10 on CURBED’s latest list of 10 RICHEST NYC NEIGHBORHOODs.

          But when the AMNH’s Richard Gilder Center opens to the PUBLIC it will provide a place for learning for ALL…including that kid of immigrant parents on a class-trip from P.S. XYZ in the South Bronx or East New York who one day, given the right encouragement, could become the next Jonas Salk…changing the world forever.

          • Mark says:

            Is this proposed space intended to be used for benefits and other extravaganzas for the nyc richies?

            Also, in the future, please don’t hijack my Comment by replying with your tangent. You would do right by starting a different thread.

    10. ColumbusSquare says:

      There was some guy at the Farmer’s Market last Sunday handing out leaflets and claiming that the Museum expansion will cause the Market to close. Any possible truth to this?

      • Laura says:

        The market will almost certainly have to relocate since the area where it currently exists will become a construction zone for 3-5 years, as will 2+ acres of the park.

    11. Natasha says:

      Better than some overpriced “luxury” condos