I was on a very strict (some would say downright frugal budget) when I was in New York City for medical care earlier this month. However, I found myself in a peculiar situation. My surgery had been postponed by three days because I needed to be on blood thinners prior to surgery. That gave me three days to obsess and worry in my hotel room. However, the lovely Nurse Practitioner in the office I was visiting and even the Doctor suggested I get out a little. Well, I took their advice to the extreme. I packed 3 3/4 days full of activities that I never thought I would do because I thought the cost would be unreasonable and I would be forever lost in New York City. Neither of those fears proved true (well, at least beyond manageable).
Had I had more time to plan I probably would have had more of an organized tour of the island or a better sense of what was important for me to see, but prior to the delay I had no plan other than the directions to my train station, hotel, and hospital.
That afternoon with bellman approved leaflets in hand I began to form a loose itinerary and I had no idea this museum was in New York City. What a fool I am. This is actually one of the world’s largest and most celebrated museums, which is located on the Upper West Side of the City across from Central Park.
American Museum of Natural History
It contains quite the diverse collection of Natural History pieces, which we today would call natural science, in over 25 buildings and 1.6 million square feet. I was there for four hours and was only able to see some of two floors, which meant I left two floors completely unexplored and I didn’t even entertain the planetarium or special exhibits. This is definitely an all day activity if you are a museum / history buff like myself.
Milstein Hall of Ocean Life
The highlight of this exhibit being the 94 foot long blue whale suspended from the ceiling.
Spitzer Hall of Human Origins
This was an excellent exhibit containing many facets of the development of human origins. It progressively displays a human fossil record right up through DNA. Also, displayed is a cast of the full size fossil of the 3 million year old Lucy skeleton. There are interactive exhibits in this hall and I noticed that this hall is mainly geared to much older (high school aged) children and up.
Hall of Biodiversity
Includes exhibits on animals that are currently endangered, ie the Siberian Tiger. It was excellent at showcasing the beauty and differences amongst animals that inhabit the earth. It is also a walk through diorama in which it depicts one of the earths most diverse ecosystems. That system being the Dzanga-Sangha rain forest.
Northwest Coast Indians
This particular exhibit is currently the oldest exhibit at the museum. I believe that it originally opened in 1900. It features artifacts to those of Native Tribes belonging to the area of present day Southern Alaska, Northern Washington, and parts of British Columbia.
The Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals
While this hall might have originally opened in the 1940’s it is fresh and vibrant as it recently went under a selective restoration in 2012. Each of the dynamic dioramas have text nearby explaining each individual exhibit. This was a jewel to explore.
Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall
Yes, at this point it was closing time and announcements were being made to have people begin to leave the buildings. I took a moment to rest on a bench next to Teddy (there was an actual life size sculpture of Teddy Roosevelt) and get a selfie ! My very first selfie – yay or nay me – I can not quite figure it out. I than took the above shots of the ceiling which were much more stunning in person than my mini iPad could ever capture. I wish I would have captured the marble rotunda entrance on the second floor, which is actually the main entrance. It was absolutely exquisite.
Now for some basic details: It is located at Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, New York 10024, Phone Number 212-769-5100, and its website address is www.amnh.org .
It has quite the detailed website that lists almost everything that you could possibly want to know – the downside being that it can be quite overwhelming trying to locate exactly what you are looking for. My advice keep digging it is most likely there.
Suggested admission price is $22.00. If you wish to pay less you can ( I am embarrassed to admit that I paid less, but not insultingly less). If you do wish to pay less keep in mind that you must purchase your tickets in person. Also, this is just a run of the mill General Admission ticket, so it will not entitle you to an IMAX or Hayden Planetarium Space Show. I would not worry about that as there is plenty to discover.
A plus is that they offer free public tours led by knowledgeable volunteers about six times a day that cover a wide swath of the museum depending on your guide and groups interests. The negative of that, well, I waited patiently for a tour to begin to get a lay of the land so to speak. I was joined by the native New Yorker tour guide who seemed nice enough and enthusiastic. His enthusiasm was the lost amongst the the group of Kiwi’s who joined us. When he asked if everyone was okay to take stairs they all shouted YES ! No body saw me shaking my head no. I couldn’t manage stairs (still not that great at them). Off they went and off my feebly and short legs went after the Kiwi’s and Native New Yorker whom were never to be found again.
I definitely had a bit of a meltdown because I gave up precious time waiting for that tour and that was the last tour that afternoon. The staff was pretty indifferent to my concern and questions, so I would suggest plan well in advance.
A plus is that they are offering programs for children with autism separately and then offer regular integration with the patrons. A negative no programs for adults. Baby steps because at least they are doing more than most institutions.
While their cafe’s are expensive don’t overlook the fact that you are literally at the doorstep of Central Park. You can pack your own little picnic (which you can check you bag in at coat check at the museum) and have a nice, inexpensive picnic in one of the most talked about parks in the world. That is what I did. I had a couple items in my hotel fridge and I bought a pastry along the way, so that I could have a picnic after my museum visit. I think the grand total of that was under nine dollars. (I bought two pastries, okay.) You also have the options of the food carts lining the park and I did notice a couple of chain restaurants surrounding the museum area.