The American Museum of Natural History is located in the Upper West side of New York City. It covers 25 buildings that house over 46 permanent exhibits and the Rose Center for Earth and Science which includes the Hayden Planetarium. The exhibits cover habitat dioramas of African, Asian and North American mammals, a full-size model of a Blue Whale, a massive 31 ton piece of the Cape York meteorite, and the "Star of India", the largest star sapphire in the world. Cost is by donation, you do not have to pay the suggested rates.
Museum is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Discounts combination discounts available.
We had just a few hours at this fascinating museum, which really wasn't enough. As a homeschool family, we could have easily stretched our visit into a week's worth of learning and fun!
First, a word about admission: Do not feel obligated to pay the full "suggested donation" price. This museum, as with many others in the NYC area, receives government funding. ANY donation is acceptable, and employees at the ticket desk are used to guests paying far less than suggested. Just know that in order to avoid paying full price, you'll need to go to the ticket desk to the left as you enter--you cannot pay less than the suggested amount at the kiosks or if you purchase tickets online.
Now, on to the exhibits! There are 4 floors in this mammoth museum, so you'll want to pace yourself. If your time is limited, do a bit of research beforehand to establish which exhibits you'll want to visit. My girls especially enjoyed the life-sized animals and dinosaur fossils. (If you have a dino fan in your group, they'll have tons to enjoy!) The exhibits of various ancient peoples are highly informative and dovetailed on our history curriculum, although we took the speculation of our human origins with a grain of salt.
For fans of "A Night at the Museum," the museum offers a tour that is specific to attractions featured in the movie. We didn't take it (additional fee applies, and we were pressed for time), but I could see how this might be helpful. We weren't able to find many of these exhibits on our own, because there was simply too much ground to cover. We did, however, find "Dum-Dum," the Easter Island statue.
I highly encourage families to visit the American Museum of Natural History--go early to avoid crowds, and go often if you live in the NYC area!
The American Museum of Natural History in NYC is a great place for kids to explore and learn and great for adults too. My family loves this museum. It can get crowded on the weekends with everyone else off, so I suggest getting there early, which also gives you more time to check things out. I'd also bring some snacks so you don't have to wait in the very long cafeteria lines. On a side note, a friend of mine who used to volunteer there gave me a tip. You don't have to pay the suggested donation price. You can pay less or more because it's a donation so it's completely up to you. If you're worried about parking you can take the PATH then transfer to the train. The MTA subway stops right underneath the museum. You literally get off the subway and walk through the entrance.
You can devote an entire day to the Museum of Natural History and that's because parking is non-existent unless you pay the exorbitant prices at the lots, and navigating this maze of a museum. The layout of this place is very strange and not very intuitive when trying to cover all the displays in a consecutive manner. And don't bring the stroller as the wait for the elevators are excruciatingly long. The exhibits themselves are great though, with lots of information. I don't think it's changed much from my own school trips decades ago. Bring your own snacks as the cafe prices are outrageous. Good thing they have a free water fountain. My kids loved the film under the blue whale, and they loved al the life sized animals.
This stop is all in the planning. First, you have three choices for tickets: pay full price online (and pick up tickets there at kiosk so you skip the ticket lines), pay less than full price in person (the admission prices are suggestions based on what the museums costs are so please pay the full price if you will be there all day and can afford to; you will have to wait in lines for this option), or get a city pass (they are available on the museum's website). Second, consider each child's age and interests. Visit the website to see the exhibit choices. If one of the special exhibits would interest your group, pay extra and see it, their special exhibits are amazing. This museum can not be seen in its entirety in one day, don't even consider it. Older kids will be able to see more, little legs will need the help of a stroller (and by little I mean under the age of 7 years old) to make it across the museum. Their website is amazing (this is not a quick visit type of website, there is lots to see and do, so allow yourself some time to explore. They also have "ology" for kids which my 10 year old son loves, he has been checking it out since he was 7). You can download maps before going to figure out the best route based on interests. They also have a free app for the iphones and ipads (this is a lifesaver, so download it if you have such a product, there is a you are here feature that literally will walk you from where you are to where you want to go). Hands down my whole groups favorite was the Rose Center. I'm a huge fan of space exhibits and this one is the best I have seen in the world so far. They did a great job setting it up, the Big Bang timeline walk is amazing. I could go on and on about it. The Discovery Room was a huge hit too (and this you won't notice unless you know about it before hand). If you have kids ages 5-12 (this is per them, I would say maybe 5-10 for sure) go here first. It is free, it is a time ticket though (40 minutes, which will fly by), so you will want to pick up your tickets to make sure you get in. Our next favorite was a special exhibit that ends in Jan. 2012 so I won't go on and on about it, but I will say this, the special exhibits are extremely well done, they have interactive parts, hands-on parts, etc. They really go all out. Remember the goal here is not to see everything (unless you have older kids and several days), the goal is to explore and have fun while learning. If you live near NYC you are very lucky. The museum puts on all sorts of workshops, overnights, and camps for kids, adults, and teachers. (If you are a homeschooler or like to expand on what the kids learned go to their website and print the teacher guides, very nice). I know I always say visit the website first, but you have to visit this website first. Otherwise this great museum could overwhelm you. Also, keep a city pass in mind if you're in NYC for a couple days, its a huge money saver.
After reading all the previous reviews, I'm a little overawed to write that this museum, while huge, comprehensive and spectacular, did not engage our family. Our tickets allowed one special exhibit and since my son (5.5) was excited to see space and dinosaurs, we started at the planetarium. Thankfully, the baby behaved for the show.
The "Journey to the Stars" film taught him a lot about how stars are made. We then visited the Rose Center for space, followed by a trek to the Millstein Hall of Ocean Life and then upwards to the 4th floor to see the dinosaurs. We also stopped in on the way at the Akeley Hall of African Mammals.
There are long halls between exhibits, tired 5-year-old feet made for many complaints. To get from one exhibit to the next is confusing, with an unhelpful map (there was no key!) of little use. The gift shops on each floor at each exhibit are, in my opinion, overkill. I overheard one patron saying "this looks like a school", which, for the most part, many of the exhibits do.
There was a lack of color. I understand that fossils are not colorful, but having an entire floor in yellow and brown bones/white walls and placards/black lettering did not appeal to me. Most of the museum is poorly lit, the main exception being the (newly constructed) Rose Center which is flooded with daylight. Many of the walls and corridors are bare and I would love to see color up there, posters or murals depicting anything would be better than a bare wall in one of the largest museums in the world.
I found the dioramas and animals interesting to look at; again, they were unable to hold the interest of my son unless I was at his level explaining what each one was. He spent his time looking at the sperm whale/giant squid and the suspended blue whale in the center of the hall of ocean life.
The staff were most unenthusiastic; one directed us the wrong way when we were looking for a restroom, others lackadaisically pointed out what we were looking for, and while I looked out for staff on the 4th floor to explain aspects of the exhibit, there were none to be found.
We were with a 1-year-old in a stroller and many parts of the museum were unable to be accessed easily. There was much "bumping up and down stairs", or re-tracing our steps for the baby to get to and from exhibits, and strollers are not allowed in the planetarium (so we had to wake princess from her nap!).
Overall, it is a wonderful museum though not one I would take my own children back to until they were older. Next time I would like to begin at the Discovery center, a room made for kids to learn about science through play, though there was not enough time in our day to include it. I would go again by myself just to look through all the halls I missed this time.
If your kids have seen the movie, they will love this museum. It is huge so don't plan on seeing everything, unless you run through it. The dinosaurs skeletons are a little boy pleaser for sure! Entertaining and fun for both children and adults! ALL AGES!
I remember the special trip we took into the city when I was a kid to the Museum of Natural History. I was in love with dinosaurs, so the trip was for me, even though I think my sisters ended having fun too. There is a little bit of everything educational at this museum. My kids loved to see the huge skeletons, especially the whale suspended from the ceiling in one of the rooms. Again, we always pack a lunch or go grab a slice outside rather than buying lunch in the cafeteria.
I consider it the best museum in New York.It is full of learning around every corner. it has woderful displays of animals and different types of wildlife.I do not think that it is possible to see it all in one day ,and its not worth it to rush through.Also the cafeteria has different varieties of food,mostly healthy but can be pricey.The gift shop is also a great place to go. i recommend the hot dog stand around and a walk around central park after the trip to the museum.
Once the kids found out where we were headed, they were not too pleased! They thought it sounded like the most boring thing that we could ever take them to, but my did things change when they actually got there-they didn't even want to leave! This museum is so beautiful & if you're planning on going you should really take the time to see each & every exhibit because kids will really love learning new things if it's taught this way!
This is a really cool place to go if you are in the area. They only charge a small donation fee to get in and they have several floors of every type of animal or history you can think of. They have all different animals and different times. They have back when the cavemen were present and even dinosaurs. This was a great place for us and I would imagine that the kids would just love it.
I have nothing but great things to say about this museum. I visited with 4 boys ages 14-18 who are not easily impressed. They were speechless! We loved the exhibits and spent most of the day exploring the museum. We went to DC the day after visiting this museum. We all agreed, hands down better than the Smithsonian. Don't miss this!
This was a favorite of mine when Iw as a child, and remains so now that I have a family of my own. This museum has something for everyone, adults and children alike. The Dinosaur exhibit has been a favorite forever! You can visit this museum every year and still not discover every little hidden trasure. Once you visit, this museum will quickly become a family favorite. Plan to spend as much of your day here as possible - it;s that good and has that much to offer.
My absolute favorite museum! This museum rocks, it never gets old... fascinating to see the huge dinosaur bones and realize that they were, at once, ALIVE and real. A MUST for anyone in the area, local, tourist, anyone. This is almost considered a right of passage! Plan to go back there very soon, if the snow storms don't ruin my plans again.
We have neen to this museum a few times over the years, and we enjoy it every time. There is always something new to see. The exhibits are fantastic. There is so much to learn about; you will end up spending the whole day there. Worth the trip! Definitely a must see if you are visiting NYC.
This Museum is a great place to spend a day (or two!) with the whole family. You can really spend many hours here and the kids love looking at all of the exhibits. It is generally busy so start looking around at one of the upper levels first! Pack snacks or eat local it's a fun place to look at our nations history.
The American Museum of Natural History is one of the world's great science museums. Since it's founding in 1869, it has carried on it's mission of scientific research, education and exhibition. I was blown away by the vastness of the museum. It rivals anything in Washington, D.C. As we first exited the subway at Central Park West at 79th Street, the kids began getting excited as they spotted the dinosaur mosaics on the subway walls.
Enter the museum and you're in the Rose Center for Earth and Space, underneath the magnificent sphere of the Hayden Planetarium. The Rose Center is a superb exhibit that explores the history of the cosmos. It's stars, planets, and galaxies with in depth and detailed explanations. A favorite for the kids were the multiple scales around the floors which showed your weight on different planets. The section on our own planet Earth (Gottesman Hall) was particularly interesting, geological history including rocks, faults, earthquakes, and volcanos. The kids were particularly riveted to a video about volcanos and lava flows.
We had a few tickets to various shows, but we only managed to make it to one, the "Race to the End of the Earth", a well done somewhat interactive exhibit of the 1911 race to reach the South Pole. The kids were wrapped up with finding the specific "artifacts" throughout the exhibit specified on a worksheet. As an avid mountaineer and wannabe explorer, I enjoyed the walk through exhibit for it's historic and adventuresome spirit.
The fossil halls were also a hit with the children. Standing under a giant T-Rex dinosaur skeleton, next to an ancient sloth, or checking out the biggest darned turtle we've ever seen. It was also fascinating to read the theories on what dinosaurs ate and how they might have evolved (or not) into the present day.
The kids also enjoyed the cultural halls, seeing the anthropological studies and artifacts of traditional cultures of various indigenous peoples around the world, including Asia, Africa, North and South America, and the Pacific. It was sobering to think about the fact that the Native Americans culture has all but dissipated during the past 120 years or so (just my own observation). I found it interesting that there was no hall of traditional European cultures.
The museum also has a great website for kids at http://www.amnh.org/ology/ which is a helpful pre or post educational resource. Topics include things such as astronomy, biodiversity, the brain, climate change, expeditions, archaeology, and anthropology.
The overall breadth of the museum is astounding. There are way too many other exhibits and halls to list. One could definitely spend all day or the better part of a week wandering the various exhibit halls and watching all the various videos. It's a definite must see if you're in New York City. Be sure and check out the website for the array of current rotating exhibits.
Does your kid like dinosaurs? Check. Planetariums? Check. A huge blue whale suspended over the exhibit room? Check. Colorful gems and minerals? Check. Huge totem poles from the Pacific Northwest? Check. IMAX theater? Check. And it's pay-what-you-wish, so although I don't recommend cheaping out, if the suggested admission is too much you can always pay less.
I think my kids would have loved this museum anyway, but it didn't hurt that they had seen it in the movies first. We ventured in with our 6,7 and 9 year olds and it kept all of their attention and interest. Each floor holds a new world with much to explore and learn. Since the dinosaurs were top on everyones list we started at the top floor to see these and worked our way down. My kids LOVED seeing the idol from the Night at the Museum Movie and everyone was patient and respectful, forming a line so everyone could get their photo ops. The Blue Whale was another hit with our family. We love Native American history so spent plenty of time in this section as well.
We took in an Imax movie on the Great Lakes and we all found that interesing. We grabbed lunch in the cafeteria which offered a lot of choices but was very crowded and pricey.
My only complaint about this destination is that it can become very expensive very quickly for a family of 5. After the admission, each special attraction is an additional fee, the Imax, the planetarium and the butterfly exhibit. With admission and the IMAX we spent $90 on our tickets. Lunch was another outrageous $40 and we didn't even get a meal for each person. We opted not to get tickets for the planetarium or butterfly exhibit and steered clear of any soveneir shops.
The museum is huge so be sure to wear your comfy walking shoes.
As a child I absolutely LOVED the NHM and now my kids really enjoy it too! They have pretty much some of everything. The dinosaurs were my sons' favorite part (they are 2 and 5), but they loved all the mammals, butterflies, just everything. The food area is much better than most places, everything there is super kid friendly, even the bathrooms are very clean. Just a wonderful experience for the whole family, and one that can be repeated again and again without ever getting bored!
We made the mistake of going during the Christmas break. It was crazy. It took 40 minutes just to get into the museum. Once we were in, the crowds were not bad at all. My son's favorite part was the blue whale. He lay on the ground and stared up at the ceiling. It was great. He was amazed at all the animals. We brought snacks and water with no problems. Taking the train in was no problem. The subway goes directly into the museum so in the cold winter months you don't have to walk through the city.
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