American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History

One of the greatest museums of the world is situated across the street from Central Park. This was the stage for the events of The Night at the Museum movie, and the venue even offers special tours to follows the path of the favorite characters. This amazing museum houses more than 33 million species of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites and cultural artifacts, only a small portion of which is on public display. And with that said, you still are very unlikely to manage to see all of it in a day. The museum was established in 1869 with the support from the New York businesses and social activists including Theodor Roosevelt, Sr. (the father of the 26th President of the USA, Theodor Roosevelt), entrepreneur Robert Stuart (he was also the president of the museum) and J. P. Morgan, a billionaire and philanthropist.

The first museum building, erected in 1877, was designed in Victorian Gothic style and today can hardly be seen behind the huge modern complex. The museum offers several thematic halls, which will not only amaze you with their dimensions, but with their incredible collections as well. In the hall dedicated to African mammals (created by Carl Akeley) you can admire several spectacular dioramas thoroughly detailing the region's ecosystem. The center of the hall is inhabited by eight African elephants. Meanwhile the Hall of Asian Mammals tells about the creatures living in India, Nepal, Myanmar and Malaysia. North American Mammals hall will give you the big picture of life in that region, even going into details about brown bears of Alaska and wolves. The ceiling at the Hall of Ocean Life features a gigantic life-size model of a blue whale (29 meters wide), which is one of the most impressive exhibits in the entire museum. This hall also exhibits the famous "Squid and Whale" diorama depicting a hypothetical battle between the colossal creatures. In this museum you will also behold the skeleton of one of the biggest land carnivorous beasts of all time, the T-Rex dinosaur, as well as a number of other dinosaurs such as brontosaurus. Unfortunately the major part of the museum's astonishing collection of mammals, dinosaurs and fossils remain concealed from the visitors.

The Hall of Asian People displays cultural artifacts from all across Asia. Here visitors will find out more about the Great Silk Road. Separate exhibitions are dedicated to the archaeological findings and artifacts from pre-Columbian civilizations including the mysterious Maya and Aztecs, as well as to the Native American peoples and the history of human genesis. The museum's most ancient exhibits are kept at the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians. At the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites you can see a shard of the 200 ton Cape York meteorite (it weighs 34 tons) discovered in Greenland. Due to its considerable weight it rests on six massive steel pillars, each of them piercing the floor of the exhibition hall going deep into the rocky foundations below the museum building. Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Gems and Minerals will be a treasure trove for the lovers of the rarest and most unusual geological samples, among which are The Patricia emerald (632 carats), as well as the 563 carat Star of India sapphire – the biggest and the world's most famous sapphire that was gifted to the museum by J. P. Morgan.

The Rose Center for Earth and Space is an affiliate to the museum which is located in a six-storey glass cube. It features Hayden Planetarium. Its upper part houses the Star Theater that allows watching starry sky via high definition video. After a visit to the planetarium you might visit the 110 meter Cosmic Pathway, which tell the story of how our universe formed throughout its 13 billion years of history. A figure to compare, the length of an adult man step is about 71 centimeter, so in one step you will cover 84 million years of evolution. Meanwhile the 'length' of the human history on that scale is equivalent to the thickness of a human hair!

Address: Central Park West and 79th St
Opening hours: daily 10 am – 5.45 pm, closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas; general admission includes visits to permanent exhibition halls and the Rose Center for Earth and Space, online ticket costs about 23 dollars per adult, pay-what-you-wish admission is available only at ticket counters, where the amount you pay is up to you.
How to reach: subway 81st St – Museum of Natural History (B, C); buses M7, M10, M11, M86, M79, M104.