The New York Museum of Natural History, located in Central Manhattan at West 72nd Street, is a major setting for several Preston-Child books including Relic, Reliquary, and The Book of the Dead.

Style Beaux Arts
Constructed 18??, burned down 1911 and rebuilt

The museum is huge, comprising one million square feet of space including five miles of forced-air ducts and a multi-level subbasement containing a network of unmapped tunnels, some of which were built to drain the artesian swamp that lies under the oldest museum buildings.

Locations in the Museum

  • Loading Dock
  • Staff Entrance
  • Guard Pillbox: Usually manned by Curly
  • Anthropology Department: Located in the Old Building basement, off a long corridor from the internal courtyard containing the staff entrance
  • Peruvian Gold Hall
  • Staff Lounge: Location of the initial NYPD briefing to the museum staff about the Museum Beast Murders
  • Old Building Basement: Home to the Anthrolopology Department, where the first two Museum Beast Murders bodies (of Billy and his younger brother) are discovered by Charlie Prine
  • Great Rotunda: Site of the first public museum press conference about the Museum Beast Murders
  • Director's Office
  • Broadway: A wide corridor connecting staff offices and labs, six city blocks long and said to be the longest hallway in New York City
  • Margo's Office: A desk and a bookshelf tucked into one of the anthropology department labs containing South Seas artifacts
  • Dr. Frock's Office: On the fifth floor of the South Tower, in an area of the museum described as "Edwardian" with elegant furnishings, Persian carpets, and oak doors.
  • Subbasement
    • Subbasement Corridor, leading away from the Old Building Basement area where Billy and his brother's corpses were found; site of a confrontation between two police dogs and Mbwun
    • Drainage tunnels
    • Mbwun's Lair
  • Secure Storage Area
  • Bug Room
  • Dinosaur Storeroom 4 - Upper Jurassic - located in the basement so that the weight of the heavy bones do not cause the floor to collapse
  • 6th Floor Vaults - built directly under the museum's roof, presumably the top floor of that part of the museum. These are a series of catwalks lined with low doors providing access to hermetically sealed vaults.
  • Lavinia Rickman's Office, with green walls and decorated with a variety of artifacts borrowed from the museum's collections.
  • Herbarium
  • Dr. Wright's Offce: Probably on the fifth floor, oak-panelled with a pressed tin ceiling, a massive carved limestone fireplace, and a large Audubon painting of snowy egrets.
  • Section 28, contains a freight elevator the size of a studio apartment
  • Osteological preparation area (a.k.a. the "Bug Room"): An area of the museum where animal specimens are boiled or eaten by beetles to render clean skeletons for mounting
  • Selous Memorial Hall: An area adjacent to where the Superstition Exhibition is being staged.
  • Walker Gallery: Another area adjacent to the rear entrance to the Superstition Exhibition
  • Hall of Insects
  • Marine Hall: A two-level gallery. The two levels are connected by large twin staircases. The lower level has a granite floor and several dioramas from the 1930s and 1940s including a group of walruses and a model of a coral reef.
  • Weisman Gallery: A gallery used for temporary exhibitions - part of the Superstition Exhibition was located here.

Real-Life Influences

The museum is a fictionalized version of the real American Museum of Natural History, where co-author Douglas Preston worked as a staff writer. Many of the concepts of the early Preston-Child novels were taken from real museum expeditions and events, as described in Preston and Child's first collaboration, Dinosaurs in the Attic

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