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Celebrating Our Bicentennial: January, 29th, 2017

Published January 30, 2017

It all began just four blocks our current office at 7 World Trade Center, when there were no skyscrapers towering above or subways shuttling below. Our founder, Samuel Latham Mitchill, who began his life as a farmer's son and went on to receive a medical degree in Scotland, returned to New York with ever-expanding interests in fields as wide-ranging as geology, botany, and mineralogy. He wanted to gather with others who shared his interests and enthusiasm for science. Finally, in his mid-50s, he decided to take things into his own hands and called the first meeting of the Lyceum of Natural History (the Academy's early name) on January 29, 1817.

From there, we've traced 200 years of scientific progress, from early efforts to survey the flora, fauna, and geology of New York and Puerto Rico, to the gathering of one of the most extensive natural history collections and scientific libraries in the world at the time, to publishing important research for nearly two centuries, to helping to found crucial research institutions in New York City and beyond, to hosting the first major scientific conferences on everything from antibiotics, to AIDS, to SARS, to educating future generations of scientists. And at every step of the way, our Members played key roles in each of those efforts.

On Sunday, January 29th, 2017, our official 200th birthday more than 150 Members and guests gathered at our headquarters to participate in the festivities and the opening of a new exhibition showcasing the Academy’s historic timeline. Guests enjoyed champagne and hors d’oeuvres, posed for “selfies” with the bust of Charles Darwin in our lobby, and learned about our history from historian and Professor Simon Baatz of John Jay College, author of “Knowledge, Culture, and Science in the Metropolis: The New York Academy of Sciences, 1817–2017.” The interactive exhibition will remain a permanent fixture in the Academy’s lobby for all visitors to enjoy.

Below, view photos from our January 29, 2017 birthday celebration, as well as the Livestream recording of the talks that were given.