The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) is one of the most famous museums in the world. Perhaps it’s because of its vast collection of dinosaur skeletons, perhaps because of its feature in the movie “Night at the Museum.” In any case, it’s a family friendly museum – one that will surely educate your kids (and yourself!) about a variety of things.
How to get there: The American Museum of Natural History has its own subway stop at 81st Street. Take subway line B&C to get there. Alternatively, the Hop on Hop off buses stop directly in front of the museum.
Where’s it located? Central Park West at 79th Street. On a nice day you could walk through Central Park to get there. Average Visit Time: At least 2 hours. The longer the better.
The American Museum of Natural History is incredibly huge. If you’ve spent even a short while in America, then you’ll know that this is simply how Americans like to do things. Because it’s so big, if you have a limited amount of time in New York, you’ll want to decide which parts of the museum you would like to see. Here the museum’s prime attractions are highlighted to help you out.
The museum was founded in 1869 and as such still retains some of its old-fashioned charm. There is a lot to do, see and experience in the museum. There are dioramas full of animals in their natural habitats, the seasonal Butterfly Conservatory, the Rose Center for Earth and Space, and of course the famous Fossil Halls.
The Fossil Halls
Located on the fourth floor of museum you’ll find the most prized and famous exhibitions in the world – the so-called Fossil Halls. Here, there are two separate wings: the David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing and the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing of Mammals and Their Extinct Relatives. Naturally, everyone wants to see the real fossils of T-Rex up close and personal and to discover whether the velociraptor was really as scary as Jurassic Park depicted it to be. The exhibitions are really impressive and if you take some time, you can learn a lot about these extinct giants. The museum highlights possible theories as to why the dinosaurs went extinct which is extremely interesting in itself. In any entertaining way, compared to these giants, you are confronted with how old the earth really is and how young mankind is. Illustrated with a 24 hour clock representing the age of the earth, you will see that we arose only in the very last minute!
Rose Center for Earth and Space
The Rose Center for Earth and Space is located on the third floor. It is where you can to relive your dreams as a kid in becoming an astronaut. It is where you can see the exploration of space – of our solar system. You can learn about the 13-billion-year history of the universe and rehearse what you remember about the various planets. The various exhibitions included within the Rose Center show you a lot of what goes on here on earth. There is also a Space Theatre that you can visit which will truly give you the feeling as if you were floating through space yourself.
The Butterfly Conservatory
The Butterfly Conservatory is located on the second floor, the entrance floor of the museum. Contrary to the rest of the objects on display in the museum, these are live butterflies fluttering around and not framed ones. The conservatory is an annual seasonal exhibition, typically open from the beginning of October through May. It is truly a magical experience, not only the dense humidity and lush green environment in the middle of Manhattan, but also viewing these magical creatures in ‘the wild’.
The North American Mammal Dioramas
If you want to see the AMNH at its proudest then you need to visit the Mammal Halls on the first floor. Here you will find dioramas of mammals in their natural habit, so realistic that you almost want to reach out and touch them (were it not for the glass preventing you to do so). The AMNH has done an amazing job with the dioramas – the animals are mounted anatomically correct and placed within their precise geographical locations. It is as if you are walking among the bison and cougars.
The Milstein Hall of Ocean Life
Also located on the first floor, the spectacular exhibition of ocean life is worth a visit to the museum in its own right. The AMNH spends a lot of time on this exhibition – and it certainly pays off. Here too you can see magical dioramas but of marine animals. The most impressive of all is the life size whale suspended from the ceiling! In addition to all the marine animals you can learn a little bit (or a lot) about evolution with the two “trees of life”.
The Human Origins and Cultural Halls
Let your inner anthropologist go wild! In the exhibitions in the Human Origins and Cultural Halls you can see for example how the plain Indians and the Eastern Woodlands Indians used to live. Head straight to the third floor if you want to start here. It is the place to learn about how these people used to live, the tools they used and their culture. If you see these exhibitions in combination with the two “trees of life” then you can truly start to understand the marvelous workings of evolution.
Eric was born in Amsterdam (1980) but had fallen in love with New York at an early age. Between 2003 and 2008, he visited the city 11 times! In 2008, his dream to live in Manhattan became reality. In 2010 he started NewYork.nl which was an immediate success. Shortly after he opened NewYorkCity.fr (2011), NewYorkCity.ca (2012) and finally VisitNewYork.co.uk. Eric hopes to share his passion for New York with everybody.
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