It has been three years since my last visit to the museum. The American Museum of Natural History is by far my favorite museum. It has been 65 years since my first visit as a child and it is still excites me now as it did then. I remember school trips to the museum and to the Hayden Planetarium and the many family outings to the museum.
When I had my own children, we of course visited the museum many times. Now that I am a grandfather, it is simply a joy to take my very young grandchildren to the museum and watch as they look, wonder and learn as I did and as my son’s did as children.
You know you are in for a special day as soon as you enter their grand entrance to the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda, which is also a New York City landmark.
For those that are reading this and want a bit more of the museum’s history, there is a wonderful introduction and links at Wikipedia .
Located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City, is one of the largest museums in the world. Located in park-like grounds across the street from Central Park, the museum complex comprises 27 connected buildings housing 45 permanent exhibition halls, in addition to a planetarium and a library.
The museum collections contain over 32 million specimens of plants, humans, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, and human cultural artifacts, of which only a small fraction can be displayed at any given time, and occupies 2,000,000 square feet (190,000 m2). The museum has a full-time scientific staff of 225, sponsors over 120 special field expeditions each year, and averages about five million visits annually.
The one mission statement of the American Museum of Natural History is: “To discover, interpret, and disseminate—through scientific research and education—knowledge about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe.”
The museum is a complex of permanent exhibit halls. Trying to cover the entire museum in one visit is simply not possible. This trip, was going to be a visit to the Fossil Hall’s. There are six of them at the museum, but the one we wanted to see most was their latest exhibit “Dinosaurs Among Us” , which included their newest addition the complete fossil of a Titanosaur.
My 5-year-old grandson Reid the Dinosaur expert in our family, so we needed him to guide us through the exhibits. He knows many of the popular families of dinosaurs from books and replica’s he owns. This would be the second time we have taken him to the museum. He was only two when we took him there for the first time.
He couldn’t quite comprehend what he saw then, but maybe that was the reason he became so interested in Dinosaur’s today. Now he could actually see the 65 million year old fossils and learn more of the history of this extinct world.
Did you know that today’s birds ancestors were dinosaur’s?
Yes it is true, today’s birds share many of the same traits including feathers, wings and nests.
The Newest Member of the Family…The Titanosaur..
My grandson was excited and a bit apprehensive to visit the new Titanosaur exhibit, but after a little coaching and reassurance he entered the new exhibit space to view the 122′ long dinosaur. It was so large that the head peaked out to invited guests at the doorway’s entrance.
It is simply unbelievable that these tremendous 70 ton herbivore‘s once walked the earth. Imagine three Titanosaur’s end to end are the same length as a football field. The awesome size and power of these ancient creatures simply boggles one’s imagination. Seeing this fossil in the museum is a once in a lifetime experience and I would urge all of our readers to visit the museum and make the Fossil Hall their first destination.
Now the museum is not only about fossil’s although it is the main subject of this article, there are other wonderful halls I have visited, including:
Human Origins and Cultural Halls
These Cultural Halls examine the cultures of Asia, Africa, North and South America, and the Pacific.
Earth and Planetary Sciences Halls
Showcase remarkable specimens, including meteorites, minerals, and rare gems, that offer clues about the origins of our solar system and the dynamic processes of our planet.
Birds and Reptiles and Amphibians Halls
Portrays the wide variety of avian life on the planet, and the Hall of Reptiles and Amphibians reviews the anatomy, behavior, and various adaptations of these vertebrates.
Biodiversity and Environmental Halls
A vivid and inspiring vision of the spectacular beauty and abundance of life on Earth.
I have always loved the wonderful and lifelike dioramas throughout the museum in their Mammal Halls..
With precise depictions of geographical locations and careful, anatomically correct mounting of the specimens, the dioramas in the Museum’s Mammal Halls are among the most renowned in the world.
You can see from the many photos taken this trip and the lasts one 3 years ago that Reid loved it as much as I have all these years. We even noticed that one exhibit was donated by the family of Alan Rappaport, which brought a smile to our faces, you see my now deceased older brothers name was Alan Rapoport.
In the Hall of Mammals you have a number of individual halls. Our favorites are:
Which focuses on 46 mammal species from North America
Which not only showcases the wonderful African Elephant exhibit, but also the African Lion, Black Rhino, Giraff, Gorilla, Ostrich and other animals in their authentically reproduced settings.
Focuses on large mammals from India, Myanmar, and Thailand.
Three others include the Hall of NY State mammals, the Hall of Primates and the Hall of Small Mammals.
This 29,000-square-foot hall is one of the more impressive halls which is housed on two floors. As you enter you are greeted by a 94 foot 21,000 pound fiberglass replica of a female blue whale suspended from the ceiling. This whale swam in the ocean over 3.5 billion years ago that was hunted over the years to near extinction.
This replica is a magnificent work of art and offers visitors an idea of the size of these beautiful creatures. In the hall you can also see the Andros Island Barrier Reef a Sperm Whale and a Giant Squid in addition to models of more than 750 sea creatures, ranging from tiny green bubble algae to computerized glowing jellyfishes.
Shows, Events, Special Exhibits
There is so much to see at the museum that a visitor could spend a month or longer, going to the museum every day and never see it all. So where do you start your journey? Hard to say…for us it was of course the Dinosaur exhibits and the Hall of Mammals.
On our next visit I would like to visit the Hayden Planetarium and watch their Dark Universe Space Show. In the past even as a school boy, watching this show in a dark theater, seats back and hearing the deep voice narrate the film has always put me to sleep. No matter how rested and how many times I have tried to stay awake, it has always been a challenge. I am willing to try this again…rested and ready.
For those interested in the origins of the solar system, meteorites or how the solar system evolved or you want to see their fantastic Gem and Mineral exhibits, this is a days visit alone.
I would like to visit the Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals which showcases hundreds of striking mineral-bearing specimens collected from around the world and the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems.
I also want to see their Hall of Gems again showcasing precious and ornamental stones—uncut, polished, and even a few set in elaborate pieces of jewelry—as well as organic materials such as coral and amber that are prized as gems.
In the Hall of Gems you will also be able to see the 563 carat, Star of India is the world’s largest gem-quality blue star sapphire.
Planning Your Visit
To plan your visit to the museum you will want to visit their website and see their interactive floor plan that will guide you so you can hit the museum and know exactly where you want to go without getting lost. There aren’t too many guards but we did find a few guides in the museum, so it is a good idea to map out your plans before your visit.
We had decided to go to their Lefrak IMAX 3D showing of National Parks which was interesting, but frankly we shouldn’t have spent that 45 minutes seeing more of the museum. There is so much to see and so much ground to cover, you simply don’t have enough time to do it all in one visit, so plan your trip before arrival.
You can spend a great deal of time and energy walking from one hall to the next. Planning before you go will help you maximize the time you do have and minimize the time wasted walking through this vast museum.
They have a cafeteria in the museum, but it is a bit costly and they don’t allow you to bring outside food into the cafeteria. If you are on a budget you can pack lunch and snacks, do as so many others do, go outside, sit on the steps or go to Central Park and have your lunch or snacks there.
There are a number of gift shops in the museum, bring your credit cards, you will definitely want to buy something in one or many of them.
Getting There – Parking
There are a number of ways to get to the museum using public transportation. If you drive into New York they do have a large parking garage, with an entrance on 81st Street but it can set you back another $44 for 5-10 hours of parking. There are also a number of private parking locations in the area, you can check on some of the parking websites to find reduced rates on many of them.
For more information visit their website:
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Open daily from 10 am-5:45 pm
except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
Why New York City Is The Top Tourist City
Any Wonder Why New York City is one of the top tourist attractions in the world? It is because of the the many wonderful museums, landmarks, and other cultural and educational institutions. Of course we are the city that has the best entertainment, international cuisine, hotels, attractions and parks too.
Why I Love New York
Living in Coney Island which is in Brooklyn, New York, enabled me to enjoy many of the museums and parks in New York City. I remember taking the bus to the subway from Coney to New York and I was only 13 years old. I would visit the AMNH and other attractions in the city back then and my parents never had to worry about me.
I continue to promote New York to our readers and to locals in my town. I live in a small town in New Jersey and after speaking to neighbors, students and others, I have discovered that very few actually go into New York City to visit some of the many attractions and museums. I try to explain to them that they are missing so much and that that millions travel from around the world to see what is in their backyard. It is especially frustrating, when I speak to adults about New York that they too rarely visit New York. Guys, hope on a train or bus and make it your mission to visit New York and AMNH soon.
I attribute living in New York, during my formative years and the experiences I had, that has given me a true appreciation of this great city. As a photojournalist, I now have even more opportunities to visit New York because I cover trade and consumer shows at the Javits Convention Center and many of the parades in New York too. I have written about other museums as well, but frankly, only a few can compare to AMNH.
Take Your Family
Make it your mission to take the entire family. Your children will learn more in a day at the museum then weeks playing video games or surfing the internet. If you live in or near New York City, I urge you, I implore you, to visit the wonderful museums and parks we have right here. My favorite for over 60 years now is the American Museum of Natural History. I am sure once you visit, it will be yours too.
Watch for future articles as I revisit some of the other halls in the museum that I failed to see in this visit.
My sincere and special thanks to Aubrey Gaby Miller, Senior Manager of Public Relations and Photo/Video Shoot Production who made our visit possible. I also want to thank my son Andrew and his beautiful family for joining me on this trip. Watching and capturing the children as they marveled at these wonderful exhibits was truly a treat for me and my wife.
See 130 Photos From Our Day At The Museum
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