Natural History Museum in New York

Who I am
Lluis Enric Mayans

Author and references


  • Where it is
  • How to reach us
  • To see
  • Timetable and ticket prices
  • When to go
  • Eat and shop at the museum
  • A bit of history
  • Curiosities about the museum

THEAmerican Museum of Natural History is a huge museum, one of the most famous in New York and one of the most important in the world in the field of natural history.

You should visit, whether or not you've seen the 2006 comedy "Night at the Museum" with Ben Stiller, set right here!

In fact, there is everything necessary to thrill adults and children: a vast exhibition (over 33 million pieces) that reveals the history of the earth through detailed reconstructions of places and habitats, fossils, skeletons, minerals, photographs, objects, models in staircase, dioramas, plants, animals, audiovisual, interactive and hyper-technological elements.

All the sciences related to nature - from anthropology to biology, from astronomy to geology - are explored in depth, but with a pleasant slant capable of involving even the less experienced.

This museum is fun but "no joke": it is in fact a leading institution also in the field of research and science, and since its origins it has been involved in ambitious expeditions, such as those to discover the North Pole, unmapped areas of Siberia, Mongolia and Congo.

Are you ready to go on a journey through time?

Where it is

On Manhattan's Upper West Side, at Central Park West & 79th Street.

When you arrive, between 79th Street and Central Park, you will have no difficulty in locating it. The museum is in fact located inside a large structure that extends for four blocks.

How to reach us

By subway:

  • 81th Street stop, line B (weekdays only) or C
  • 79th Street stop, line 1

By bus: lines M79, M7, M10, M11, M86 and M104.

To see

L’Hayden Planetarium

The museum is spread over four floors, plus an underground floor. It has 45 permanent rooms and additional areas dedicated to temporary exhibitions.

It would take days to visit the whole museum!

Such an abundance of salt and artifacts can be confusing, but it definitely comes in handy museum map, which you can download in pdf format from this page of the official website, also in Spanish.

It is perfectly understandable and useful to identify the rooms "to be seen absolutely", based on your preferences (we are ready to bet that there will be those of the dinosaurs), and those that you can "sacrifice", for reasons of time!

Take into account, however, at least tre o quattro pray for a nice visit to the museum.

The app dedicated to the museum is also very valid.

We now point out the works that usually arouse the greatest interest of visitors, going floor by floor.

Underground floor

  • Moon rocks, of the "souvenirs" brought to Earth by the astronauts returning from the Apollo missions in the XNUMXs.
  • Willamette Meteorite, a ferrous meteorite discovered in Oregon in 1902, but already known for some time by Native Americans. It weighs 15,5 tons and you will notice its pitted appearance like Gruyere cheese.

First floor

  • In the section dedicated to the ocean, a very large one dominates from above blue whale weighing 9,5 tons. An imposing presence: think that this model reaches almost 30 meters in length. It reproduces a whale discovered in 1925.
  • Lo Lucy's skeleton, a woman who lived more than 3,18 million years ago. Found in 1974, it is one of the most complete skeletons dating back to that era.
  • Patricia Emerald, one of the largest emeralds in the world; we are talking about 632 carats. Found in Colombia in 1920, it has 12 faces.
  • Il meteorite largest in the world that can be seen in a museum is located in the Ross Room. Discovered in Greenland in 1894, it weighs 34 tons and is supported by columns that pass through the floor and into the rock below the museum.
  • In the hall of the forests of North America, there is one slice of giant sequoia 1400 years old. The tree came from California and was felled in 1891 (it would not have happened today, as the sequoia is one of the protected species).
  • From this floor you can also access the‘Hayden Planetarium, the planetarium that exceeds 25 meters in diameter and reproduces beautiful films about the universe (in the futuristic Rose Center for Earth and Space).

Second floor

  • Reproduction of the skeleton of a herbivorous dinosaur, Barosaurus, which to be precise was a mother-Barosaurus who defended her baby from the attack of an Allosaurus (there too!). It is located in the museum's majestic entrance, the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda, also called the Grand Entrance.

By the way, if for some reason you have planned not to visit the museum, but you find yourself right there, the advice is to cross its threshold anyway. The advantages? You will be able to “greet” the Barosaurus for free and read Roosevelt's thoughts on the state, youth, adulthood and nature on the marble walls of the entrance.

  • Le rooms dedicated to Asian and African populations, where numerous tools and artifacts are exhibited: everyday objects, fabrics, carpets and even the reconstruction of a Tibetan sanctuary.
  • THEHayden Big Bang Theater, with its large concave screen, in which you can see an accurate reproduction of the Big Bang.

Third floor

  • In the Akeley Room dedicated to African Mammals you can see a group of elephants ready to load; one of these specimens had been personally hunted and donated to the museum by Theodore Roosevelt.
  • In the room dedicated to the peoples of the Pacific, it will surely make you smile there head of the island of Easter (Moai statue) Ben Stiller's companion in the movie “A Night at the Museum”!
  • The room dedicated to birds of North America; by the way, did you know that about 400 species live in New York City alone?

Fourth floor

  • The highlight of the museum! Let's talk about dedicated to him from the most luminous hall Dinosaurs. Among the exposed skeletons (more than 120), fossils and teeth you will probably feel like you are in the movie Jurassic Park (no scene of which, however, was filmed in this museum). Notice how the children are enchanted looking at the large realistic silhouettes of extinct animals! When you step out of these halls, you will also know a lot more about the extensively covered dinosaur extinction theories.
  • Also interesting are the rooms dedicated to origins of vertebrates and mammals.

No less compelling than the permanent exhibition, the museum's temporary exhibitions (Special Exhibitions). For example, from May to October you can admire an exhibition of more than 500 live tropical butterflies that flutter happily and feed on the nectar of the plants placed inside the nursery made especially for them.

In addition to the artifacts and objects exhibited in the museum, don't forget to go and see, outside the entrance to Columbus Avenue, the time capsule - clearly visible on a pedestal - designed by Santiago Calatrava.

Sealed in 2000 after having introduced representative objects of the 20th century inside, it will only be opened on January 1, 3000.

Timetable and ticket prices

The museum is open daily from 10.00am to 17.45pm, except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Ticket prices:

  • Adults $ 23
  • Students (with ID) $ 18
  • Senior (60+) $ 18
  • Children (ages 2-12) $ 13

These are the prices for the permanent exhibition (they also include access to the Rose Center for Earth and Space): they will be higher if you decide to visit one or more special exhibitions.

Admission to this facility is also included in the passes.

Buy the ticket

When to go

This museum from beyond 5 million visitors a year it is very busy especially on weekends. For a quieter visit, prefer midweek days and, even better, in the morning.

Also, if you start your exploration from the fourth floor (that of the dinosaurs), as many do, then to go down to the lower floors prefer the stairs, since there are often too many lines for the elevators. At the exit, if you are too tired you can sit and rest on the benches of Central Park!

Eat and shop at the museum

The gastronomic offer is also vast in this museum!

  • In the basement there is the food gallery, which offers products for all tastes and ages (even for those who are gluten intolerant or allergic to nuts).
  • On the first floor, the Café on One offers a selection of gourmet products (which will especially be appreciated by adult customers).
  • On the fourth floor, the Coffee on Four offers light lunches and an assortment of snacks.

All refreshment points are open from 11.00 to 16.45.

Buying items and souvenirs will also be simple. In fact, several shops are spread over the different floors:

  • museum shop (first and second floor)
  • Shop of the earth and space (basement, Rose Center for land and space)
  • Cosmic shop (second floor, Rose Center for earth and space)
  • Dino store (fourth floor)

You will find useful, funny or educational articles to give to yourself or to others (and there is also the online shop, which also ships to Spain).

A bit of history

The foundation of the museum dates back to 1869, and is due to the initiative of Albert Smith Bickmore, a former student of the Harvard zoologist Louis Agassiz.

The first location was in Central Park Arsenal, on the eastern side of Central Park. A few years later, in 1874, US President Ulysses S. Grant laid the cornerstone of the museum building at 77th Street, which was to be inaugurated in 1877.

This construction is now hidden from view by the numerous other buildings in the complex that occupies a large part of Manhattan Square.

Having been completed in later periods, the museum presents a mixture of styles, from neoclassical (evident in the facade) to neo-Romanesque.

In particular, the entrance from the Central Park West side is dominated by white columns and a bronze statue of President Theodore Roosevelt.

Seen from other sides, the building seems to even resemble a medieval construction.

The most modern part is, of course, the 'Rose Center', inaugurated in 2000: a glass cube containing the Hayden planetarium, like a sphere floating inside it.

Curiosities about the museum

  • Remember the first Friends series? One of the protagonists, Ross, worked in the Natural History Museum as a Paleontologist, and this contributed to making him think of a boring person (lucky him, instead!). And, in case you are in doubt, the Ross room dedicated to meteorites is not in honor of him, but dedicated to the American philanthropist Arthur Ross.
  • The squid and the whale, the title of a 2006 American film nominated for an Oscar for best original screenplay, recalls a room in the museum where the last scene of the film also takes place (which we will not talk about, to avoid spoilers).
  • The film A night at the museum it was so successful that a sequel was shot, but not in the same museum, but in Washington in the Smithsonian.
  • The fin whale model was made in the late XNUMXs. Following new discoveries about these animals, the museum's whale was restored, varying some details and adding new ones, such as the navel.
  • In 1964 there was a jewelry theft. The thieves - after visiting the museum for a week, to memorize its characteristics - jumped a fence, used a fire escape, crawled along a ledge, and descended to the fourth floor with a rope. They stole priceless jewels, including a huge sapphire. The thieves were soon captured and the jewels (almost) all found.

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