The American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History is one of the most celebrated, monumental museums in the world.  The massive museum is made of 27 interconnected buildings housing 45 permanent exhibition halls, in addition to a planetarium, a library, and research departments.  The museum collections contain over 32 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, and human cultural artifacts.  Generations of New Yorkers and visitors have come to the museum as children and later return with their own children to gaze in wonder at the museum’s remarkable exhibits and treasures.

American Museum of Natural History

AMNH Grand Facade, with Teddy Roosevelt leading the charge Photo: Jeff Dobbins

The American Museum of Natural History was founded in 1869 by a group of influential New Yorkers, including Theodore Roosevelt Sr. and J.P. Morgan.  Originally housed in the Armory in Central Park, in 1877 the museum moved to its current location, which continued to physically expand through the 1930s.

The legendary museum has been the setting for novels, TV shows, and movies, most notably the Night at the Museum films.

Museum highlights include –

  • The main lobby’s enormous skeletons of Barosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus Rex.
  • Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History NYC

    Jurassic Manhattan Photo: Jeff Dobbins

    The Blue Whale – a 94 feet (29 meter) long, 21,000-pound model whale hanging above the Hall of Ocean Life.

  • The Star of India, a 563 carat blue star sapphire that is the world’s largest.
  • Hall of North American Mammals, featuring 43 incredibly life-like dioramas.
  • The Cape York Meteorite, so massive and heavy that display supports must anchor into the bedrock beneath the Museum.
  • Hall of African Mammals, featuring a group of eight elephants surrounded by 28 habitat dioramas.
  • Lucy,” one of the most complete skeletons from the early hominids (dating back 2-4 million years).
  • The Harriet and Robert Heilbrunn Cosmic Pathway, a 360-foot-long path that lays out the 13-billion-year history of the universe.
  • The Space Show in the Hayden Planetarium, projected across the theater’s 67-foot-wide hemispheric dome, creating a cosmic “immersive environment.”
Blue Whale, Museum of Natural History

Mammoth mammal: the museum’s Blue Whale Photo: AMNH.org

Visit the Museum –

The American Museum of Natural History is located at 79th Street and Central Park West.

Subway: B or C to 81st Street.  Also, 1 train to 79th Street (on Broadway, two blocks west of Central Park West).

Bus: M7, M10, M11, M86 and M104 buses, as well as the M79 crosstown bus. For detailed NYC bus information, see the MTA’s website.

The museum is open daily 10am – 5:45pm

Admission to the museum comes in three price tiers –

General Admission, which includes admission to all 45 Museum halls and the Rose Center for Earth and Space: $19 Adults, $10.50 Children under 12, $14.50 for Seniors & Students with ID.

General Admission Plus One, adding one special exhibition, IMAX film, or Hayden Planetarium Space Show: $25 Adults, $14.50 Children under 12, $19 for Seniors & Students with ID.

SuperSaver Admission, which includes all special exhibitions, IMAX films, and the Hayden Planetarium Space Show. $33Adults, $20.50 Children under 12, $25.50 for Seniors & Students with ID.

Note: General Admission is a “suggested donation,” and one can pay less if desired. However, extra costs are required for special exhibits and shows.

Full priced tickets can be purchased online via the museum’s website.

The New York Pass includes admission to the museum, and New York CityPass and Explorer Pass holders receive up to 45% discounts on admission.

The museum is fully accessible and has programs to accommodate visitors with impairments. See the museum’s site for details.

Diorama, Museum of Natural History

Diorama in the Hall of African Mammals Photo: Jeff Dobbins

The museum has two coat checks, but discourages visitors from bringing large items like backpacks, luggage, or musical instruments.  Coat check does not accept high-value items (like laptops, furs, etc.).

Public tours (free with admission) of the museum’s highlights are offered Daily at 10:15, 11:15, 12:15, 1:15, 2:15, and 3:15.  The museum also offers tours focused on specific halls or themes (check information desk for information) and tours conducted in Spanish and French.

The museum has designed self-guided tours focused on specific aspects of the collections.  They include a Whale Tour, Dino Tour, Earth and Space, and locales featured in the film Night at the Museum.  The tours can be found on the museum’s website, and in the free Explorer app, which also provides personal GPS for navigating the massive museum and digital exhibits.  It will even allow you to share your museum experiences through email, Facebook, and Twitter.

Helpful “Explainers” are on hand in certain departments including Fossils (wearing red buttons), Earth and Space (purple buttons), Meteorites, Minerals, and Gems.

The museum features a food court and café serving quality family fare. There are also two cafes offering more upscale adult menus.

The museum offers Sleepovers, during which guests can literally spend the night in the museum.  The experience includes a fossil mission by flashlight, an IMAX film or space show, a live animal presentation, a snack and light breakfast.  For information and tickets, see the AMNH website.

The museum hosts lots of special events and programs.  Check the museum’s calendar for up-to-date listings.

What’s your favorite exhibit or memory of the Museum of Natural History?

AMNY's Hayden Planetarium

Hayden Planetarium Photo: Jeff Dobbins

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