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    Natural History Museum of New York: how to find your way among dinosaurs and other wonders

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    Martí Micolau

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    Many of you have surely seen “A Night at the Museum”, a 2006 film with Ben Stiller that had two sequels: well, would you also like to immerse yourself in the dim and history-filled atmosphere of the film museum? Well then you have only from visitare l’American Museum of Natural History ("Natural History Museum") of New York!

    New York is a city of a thousand attractions, modern from every point of view, and it is nice to walk far and wide, but if you have a cloudy day, threatening rain or that is already discharging in torrents, or a very hot day, and you want to have an "experience" that will make you feel like a child again amazed by what surrounds you, then this is the place for you! Then, if the rain stops and the sun comes out… no problem, because it is very close to Central Park!


    • What to expect?
      • The structure of the floors of the American Museum of Natural History
    • How to visit the American Museum of Natural History
      • Tickets, timetables, prices and other useful information
      • Where is the museum and how to get there
      • The museum shops: how to take a souvenir home ...
      • Foto e video all’American Museum of Natural History
      • Where to sleep in the area
      • Where to eat near the American Museum of Natural History

    What to expect?

    The birth of the museum originated in 1869 from the idea of ​​a former Harvard zoology student, Albert S. Bickmore; was also supported by Theodore Roosevelt sr., (yes, the father of the famous president!), and is well placed in a historical period characterized by the diffusion of Darwin's theories ("The origin of species" dates back to 1859) and by enthusiasm for science. Therefore the meaning of "Natural history”Contained in the name of the museum is very enlarged, and should not scare you: we will not only talk about animals and cataclysms within its walls!

    Obviously over the years the museum structure has undergone various changes and enlargements (it is one of the largest of its kind in the world!), And today you can also find a planetarium among its attractions!

    But let's proceed in order ...

    The structure of the floors of the American Museum of Natural History


    The American Museum of Natural History is spread over 5 floors, one of which is underground.

    The monumental entrance it is located on the second floor (the “Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda”). When you enter, you will immediately be enveloped by a very special atmosphere: to welcome you you will in fact find a kind of patchwork between Jurassic Park and glorious American history, thanks to Roosevelt's phrases hanging on the walls, to the paintings depicting some scenes from the life of the American president, and to the facsimiles of the skeletons of Barosaurus and Allosaurus (even if fake, these bones are however casts of real pieces and trace the dimensions).

    At this point you just have to find a map and let yourself be guided by curiosity: be careful, however: not all the attractions hosted by the museum are accessible with the same ticket type. In addition, 5 floors of things to see are really many, and all very different from each other: moreover, between floor and floor there is no clear thematic division, so if for example you know that you like dinosaurs and you are not interested in populations del Pacifico, in order not to waste time I recommend, before going, to look at the map, which on the museum's website can be found in PDF also in Spanish, or the interactive map that can be consulted online.

    But let's take a quick first look:

    • Underground floor: it is the floor where you will come out arriving by subway: here is the base of the Rose Center for Earth and Space, that is the part of the museum particularly dedicated to scientific research concerning space: at this level there is the “Culman Hall of the Universe”, where the main topic is the most modern discoveries in astrophysics. So if you are passionate about galaxies, universes and the like, you should start here!
    • First floor: is an area mainly dedicated to North America, with a room on forests, one on North American mammals and one on the Indian cultures of the northwest coast. Here you can therefore free your spirit from explorers. However, there is an exhibition on the life in the oceans, which I recommend you visit to be impressed by a huge blue whale model, and one on primitive men, as well as a wing dedicated to meteorites and minerals. There is also the second level of the Rose Center for Earth and Space, the “Hall of Planet Earth” and the entrance to two attractions not included in the basic ticket, namely the cinema with IMAX mega screen and Space Show (which however takes place in the Hayden Planetarium on the third floor so be careful!
    • Second floor: Here the focus is a little more "ethnographic": you can in fact find wings dedicated to Asian, African and Central-South American populations. I recommend that you also visit the part intended for African mammals, where in the center a realistic group of 8 elephants about to charge has been reproduced: around them, 28 dioramas depicting the typical habitats of the area. Even those who are passionate about space here will find something fascinating: there are indeed l’Hayden Big Bang Theater (the Hayden Planetarium is on the third) e l’Harriet and Robert Heilbrunn Cosmic Pathway; the first is practically a large concave screen in which visitors can see a spectacular reproduction of the Big Bang; the second instead is a spiral path that leads the visitor to retrace the life of the Universe.
    • Third floor: here too the contents are quite diversified: they range from North American birds Pacific populations, To mammals of the state of New York. Then there is theHayden Planetarium, to which however accessed from the first floor.
    • Fourth floor: Chi ama dinosaurs and prehistoric animals, and has always dreamed of venturing among enormous skeletons and observing their bone conformations and teeth like Doctor Grant of Jurassic Park, finally here he finds bread for his teeth: there are in fact two wings dedicated to dinosaurs, one to the origins of vertebrates and one to the introduction and explanation of fossil preserved. The others are dedicated to mammals.

    The special exhibitions

    The museum periodically hosts special thematic exhibitions, thus enriching its cultural offer even more, and varies the titles of the films shown on the Imax mega screen and in the Space Show: at the time of writing the article, the special exhibitions are the following :

    • "Mummies": from 20 March 2017 to 7 January 2018
    • "Inside you": from 24 June 2017 to 16 June 2019
    • "The Butterfly Conservatory": from 7 October 2017 to 28 May 2018.

    On the Imax mega screen, on the other hand, “Earthflight”, a documentary on flight narrated by the voice of Cate Blanchett, is projected in 2D and 3D.

    As for the Space Show, at the moment the show is titled "About Dark Universe".

    How to visit the American Museum of Natural History

    If you have been able to read up to here, you will have understood that the American Museum of Natural History ... "is a nice buttasù of stuff", as they say in my part: so try to consider the time you have available and your passions: if you have a scientific soul with your head projected among the stars, you should focus on the underground floor, first and second floor, in the part dedicated to Rose Center, and maybe buy an admission that includes at least one screening, to enjoy the “Dark Universe” show.

    If, on the other hand, you are passionate about fossils and primitive populations, then perhaps you will want to do without special exhibitions to have time to calmly look at the dioramas and the permanent collections of the museum, perhaps starting from the fourth floor. On the museum website, however, you can find here "Self Guided Tours", or tours outlined according to your interest (there is also the one all focused on "A night at the museum"! So yes, you too can pretend to talk to the Easter Island head).

    Tickets, timetables, prices and other useful information

    Following the latest regulations, all over 12 years old will have to provide access to the museum proof of vaccination. In addition, all those over 2 years old will have to wear a face mask within the premises.

    L’American Museum of Natural History è open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am to 17 pm.

    As for the prices of the entrance ticket, various combinations and rates are possible, and you can buy them both online and on site: the "basic" prices are as follows (updated in October 2017):

    "Basic" admission (without access to special exhibitions, the Space Show and Imax 2D or 3D films):

    • Adults: $ 23
    • Over 60: 18 $
    • Children (2-12 years): $ 13

    Basic admission "plus 1" (to choose from a special exhibition, an Imax -2D or 3D- screen film, or the Space Show, of which you will be asked to select the date and time):

    • Adults: $ 28
    • Over 60: 22,50 $
    • Children (2-12 years): $ 16,50

    "All inclusive" admission (all special exhibitions, the Imax -2D or 3D- screen film and the Space Show; if you buy the ticket online you will be asked to select the times to participate in the shows):

    • Adults: $ 33
    • Over 60: 27 $
    • Children (2-12 years): $ 20

    At the link below you can find the "basic ticket" and the "Super Saver" ticket, which, in addition to the standard entrance, includes the Rose Center for Earth and Space, the Hayden Planetarium exhibition, an IMAX film and all special exhibitions.

    Tickets on GetYourGuide

    Standard and Super Saver tickets on Viator

    There is also the possibility of becoming a “Member” of the Museum and thus obtaining some free admissions, but if you don't live in the USA, doesn't that seem convenient?

    On the other hand, you can pay a slightly lower price (but always choosing between the three options) if you are in a group of at least 20 people.

    The option "Pay what you wish"It is only possible by queuing up at the ticket office: in this way, however, you risk losing precious time ...

    Tickets with passes ...

    Unless you resort to the "pay what you wish" it is very likely that you should take a pass, the ideal solution to save by accumulating the attractions of New York. The American Museum of Natural History has an agreement with:

    • the New York CityPASS
    • i NY Sightseeing: Day e Flex
    • the New York Pass
    • il Go City New York Explorer Pass

    To get a better idea of ​​which pass may best suit your needs, we refer you to our comparison guide dedicated to the topic:

    Which New York pass is really worth it?

    Where is the museum and how to get there

    The entrance to the Museum is located on Central Park West, that is the Avenue which, as the name implies, runs along Central Park from the west side, at the height of 79th street: it is therefore located in the famous and refined residential district of the Upper West Side, location of many famous films and TV series: getting there is quite simple, because there is a subway station with the name of the museum, which leaves you at the intersection with 81st street (the stop named “81 Street -Museum of Natural History Station ", and is directly connected to the museum).

    The stop is common to 2 metro lines, namely the B and C; in particular, however, the B is only available on weekdays; otherwise, a little west of the museum, train 1 stops you at the intersection of Broadway and West 79th Street.

    The museum shops: how to take a souvenir home ...

    … You are spoiled for choice! The museum houses 5 points of sale:

    • il Museum Shop it develops between the first and second floors on three levels: one for original gift items, one with books and scientific publications, and one dedicated to children;
    • Il Planetarium Shop, in the basement, it is perfect if you have NERD friends to whom you want to bring trinkets and scientific gifts such as minerals, pieces of meteorite (fake, obviously, hardcore fans of space movies are the ideal target);
    • Il Cosmic Shop instead it is located on the second floor and is always for your Nerd friends, but perhaps they veer a little more towards Sheldon Cooper: here you will find science kits, puzzle games, posters, postcards and… other souvenirs of the cosmos;
    • Dino store: you will have understood that the fourth floor is the realm of career and non-career paleontologists: so the subject of the gadgets of this shop, what do I tell you?
    • Exhibition shops: these are temporary shops where you can find themed gadgets with the special exhibition currently hosted in the museum, and are located at the exit of it.
    • For everything else ... there is Mastercard: if your friends are really insatiable, or you just forgot to get them a souvenir, do not worry! There is the site!

    Foto e video all’American Museum of Natural History

    You can take pictures unless it is expressly forbidden, inside the American Museum of Natural History, even with a flash, but NOT with selfie sticks! It is also not possible to bring tripods and additional lights. Flash is also prohibited in the Space Theater and LeFrak Theater.

    Where to sleep in the area

    To find accommodation near the museum you have to look in theUpper West Side, an elegant residential neighborhood where you can take pleasant walks just a stone's throw from the greenery of Central Park. For further information, I refer you to ours advice on how to find a hotel in this district.

    Where to eat near the American Museum of Natural History

    If living imaginary adventures makes you hungry, and seeing all those dinosaurs reminds you of Fred Flintstone eating a brontosaurus steak, no problem: there are 3 food outlets in the museum:

    • Museum Food Court
      basement, near the entrance from the subway side. Open every day from 11am to 16pm. The menu is varied and suitable for everyone.
    • Café on One
      First floor, open every day from 11am to 16pm. Here the question becomes a little more than, um, class, let's say: there is gourmet food, wine by the glass and various types of beers. So in short, I think that if you want to spend little it is not the case.
    • Café on Four
      Fourth floor, near the elevators adjacent to 77th Street: open 11am to 16pm daily. Here we can find assorted snacks and snacks.

    If, on the other hand, you want to get out, you can't take it anymore Shake Shack on Columbus Ave. 336: that is, looking at the main entrance of the museum, you must take the 77th street which constitutes its left side: you will come out in Columbus Avenue, and you should find it in front of it. Otherwise, still on Columbus, but at the intersection with 81st Street, there is Starbucks; the area is still full of ethnic restaurants, from Japanese to Mexican ... to Spanish, from Scaletta on the 77th which does "Northern Italian cuisine"

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