Currently viewing the tag: "Lerner Marine Laboratory"

Lerner Marine Laboratory at Bimini, Bahamas. A field station of the American Museum of Natural History. AMNH promotional pamphlet circa 1970’s.

Starting in the late 1940s the Museum began operating field research stations in various ecologically rich locations where they could send their scientists for extended periods in order to work. The following four represent nearly all of the Museum’s stations, but together they offered a diverse sampling of habitats for study.

Lerner Marine Laboratory
Located 60 miles east of Miami on the Island of Bimini in the Bahamas (seen in the picture above), the Laboratory was sponsored by longtime Museum trustee Michael Lerner. Lerner, a highly regarded angler and naturalist, who led and funded several Museum collecting expeditions during the 1930s and 40s, helped the AMNH to found the Lerner Marine Laboratory in 1948 as a place for Museum Ichthyologists and other researchers to work. The station took advantage of its excellent location between the Gulf Stream and the shallow Bahamian Sea by offering scientists access to a wide variety of marine and shore life. The Laboratory served as a place of study for researchers and scientists for over 25 years before being closed down in 1975.

Great Gull Island Project
The Museum acquired Gull Island, off the eastern coast of long island, from the US Government in 1949, with the intention of facilitating the restoration of nesting habitats for Roseate and Common Terns. With the help of the Linnaean Society of New York (made up of amateur and professional ornithologists), the museum worked to convert the former military base into an attractive location for terns to nest. The project has been extremely successful and today over 1300 pairs of Roseate Terns use the island as a nesting site. The project’s staff are responsible for monitoring family history, hatching records, and the nesting locations of these endangered birds. You may visit the project’s website at

Southwestern Research Station
Situated in Portal Arizona in the southeast corner of the state, the Southwestern Research Station is remarkable for its proximity to five distinct life zones. The variety of terrains – mountain peaks, deserts, canyons, and grassy plains – provide abundant research opportunities for scientists and researchers with interests in entomology, herpetology, ornithology, mammalogy, botany, geology, arachnology, animal behavior, and population, behavioral, and physiological ecology. The Station is open year round and features several laboratories and a library and it offers educational courses and workshops for the public on a variety of subjects related to the research they conduct. The Museum has operated the station since the property was donated by Dr. Mabel S. Ingalls (a granddaughter of J.P. Morgan) in 1955.

Kalbfleisch Field Research Station
Upon her death in 1956, August Kalbfleisch, bequeathed to the American Museum of Natural History, a 94 acre estate in Huntington, New York along with an endowment of approximately $600,000. Thanks to a later gift from a Mrs. Rosalind Havemeyer in 1970, the size increased to 98 acres. Kalbfleisch, the granddaughter of early Brooklyn Mayor Martin Kalbfleisch, stipulated that the estate be utilized by the museum as a place of research and study, and from 1958 to around 1978, it served as a research center for various departments of the museum. Dr. Wesley E. Lanyon, an ornithologist and curator of birds for the museum, was named resident director of the Kalbfleisch Research Station in 1958, and after more than a year of renovation, the center was operational. In the summer of 1960, the Museum first organized its summer research program for students, the Undergraduate Research Participation Program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Every summer, the station played host to between nine and twelve students who were instructed in subjects such as biology and astronomy, and were expected to work on a personal research project over the course of their internship. Through the sixties the program’s popularity grew, and competition for the limited internships was great. However, in 1973, the program was eliminated due to cutbacks in funding from the National Science Foundation. Also, records indicate the station experienced frequent financial difficulties, and in nine of its first fourteen years in operation, its expenses were greater than its income, sometimes significantly so. With the end of the student research program, the station’s viability was short lived, and over the course of the late seventies and early eighties the museum embarked on a controversial plan to sell the property to real estate developers. After a lengthy process of approval from the town of Huntington, the estate was demolished and the land developed in 1983.