IWalked New York City’s American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History is situated within an eighteen-acre park known as Theodore Roosevelt Park. Inside the park are numerous gardens and benches. The museum itself is quite expansive in that it covers four city blocks. Outside the front entrance is a large memorial to Theodore Roosevelt that was sculpted by John Russell Pope in 1936. Pope is most noted for his architectural designs of the National Archives and Records Administration Building constructed in 1936 and the Jefferson Memorial constructed in 1943, both of both reside in Washington D.C.
The American Museum of Natural History was founded on April 6, 1869 when a man by the name of Albert Smith Bickmore obtained permission to build the museum. His audience consisted of the likes of J. Pierpont Morgan and Theodore Roosevelt himself. The initial museum opened in April 1871 at the site of the Central Park Arsenal. Just three years later, U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant laid the cornerstone for the museum’s new home located along Central Park West. The original Victorian-style structure, which was completed in 1877, was designed by Central Park architects Calvin Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould. Through the course of numerous additions, that original building is now virtually obscured from site or recognition.
The current rusticated brownstone and granite structure consists of twenty-five interconnected buildings and contains forty-six permanent exhibition halls. The building also houses a significant research facility and library. Due the museum’s collection of 32 million plus specimens, they constantly strive to rotate out new pieces.
Now, if you wish to visit the American Museum of Natural History it is typically open all year round from 10am-5:45 pm, less Christmas and Thanksgiving. Admission prices may vary but currently go for $16 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, and $9 for children aged 2-12.
Your three must see spaces within the museum include Milstein Hall of Ocean Life (conveniently located on the 1st floor), the fossil hall (on the 4th floor) and the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites (also on the 1st floor). So briefly, beginning with the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, here you will find a 94-foot-long blue whale suspended from the ceiling. An amazing site to take in. The fossil hall is of course most noted for its two dinosaur halls. One thing that supposedly makes the American History Museum unique is that almost all of its fossils are real. In fact up to 85% of the fossils you see are real as opposed to being cast (something which I naively never considered when viewing). And lastly, within the Hall of Meteorites is just a small section of the 200-ton Cape York meteorite found n Greenland. A small section, mind you, weighing in at some thirty-one tons.
Now if you’re looking for some help in guiding your way through, the Museum has actually developed a fantastic iPhone application called “Explorer: The American Museum of Natural History.” It is available on iTunes and provides facts on many of the exhibits and also includes GPS capability to help you navigate through the museum. And the best part? It’s free.
Of course there are probably many of you who know the museum through its starring role in the 2006 film, Night at the Museum. In actuality, only the exterior shots of the film were real and the remainder of the film was actuality shot on a sound stage in Vancouver, British Columbia. Museum officials, however, reported that due to the film’s release that attendance rose almost 20% during the period the film was out.
Lastly, for those of you who may be in the area say around Thanksgiving, it is right in this area that they actually inflate all of the giant hot air balloons that you see floating around during the annual Macy’s day parade. So if you are able to take advantage of that, it’s a great time for the kids.
Address: Intersection of Central Park West / East 79th Street, New York City, NY
Hours: 10am-5:45 pm, less Christmas and Thanksgiving
Cost: $16 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, and $9 for children aged 2-12
IWalked Audio Tours To See This Site: New York City’s Upper West Side. (Purchase the MP3 tour here. iPhone application tour is available here. Please note, all NYC tours are now available as in-app purchases upon download of our FREE NYC Lite application, which includes a free 1.5 hour tour of a portion of the Upper West Side.)