In the northwestern part of Manhattan, in the neighborhood of Central Park, there are 25 interconnected buildings that together form the American Museum of Natural History. It can without a doubt be included among the most interesting and most visited attractions of New York.
According to Liuxers, The museum was founded in 1869 thanks to the efforts and support of many important personalities, including Theodore Roosevelt Sr. Before the current museum complex was built, the exhibits had to be housed in the old Arsenal building in Central Park. In 1974, the foundation stone of the new building was laid by then US President Ulysses S. Grant. It was a tall building in the Victorian-Gothic style, which was built according to the design of architects Calvert Vaux and J. Wrey Mould, who at that time were already associated with the architecture of the nearby Central Park. Gradually, more and more extensions were added to it, and so today this first historic building of the museum is hidden among many other buildings of the complex, which cover most of Manhattan Square on the Upper West Side.
Currently, the museum’s 25 halls house permanent exhibits containing more than 40 million specimens – it is one of the largest collections of artefacts in the world. In addition, the museum also includes research laboratories and a newly renovated library. The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) is an integrated complex of scientific and educational institutions, therefore it belongs to the most important museums in the world. It is sponsored by more than two hundred entities and organizes about a hundred different scientific expeditions around the world.
Over 3 million visitors visit this New York museum annually. However, if you want to go sightseeing, make sure you allow enough time for it. It’s best to decide what you want to see early on and go after it, otherwise you’ll get lost in this labyrinth of buildings. On average, a visitor spends about 5 hours here, and that cannot be said to have seen most of what is offered – rather, only a fraction.
The biggest attractions of the museum are the dinosaur skeletons, one of which you will see immediately upon entering the first floor. It is the skeleton of a 17-meter-tall Barosaurus. More dinosaurs then await on the fourth floor in the Fossil Hall. There you will also find the largest collection of mammal bones in the world and complete skeletons of prehistoric mammoths, tyrannosaurs, brontosaurs and other prehistoric creatures.
You can head to the Hall of Ocean Life, where there are displays of North American Indians and there is also a huge life-size blue whale immersed in an apparent ocean. In the Hall of Biodiversity, you will feel like you are in an African rainforest. The oldest exhibit in the museum is the Hall of the Northwest Coast Indians, i.e. exhibits of Indian tribes living on the northwest coast of the United States of America. In addition to everyday items and clothing, you can also see a number of Native American totem poles.
No less interesting is the Hall of Mollusks and Our World, whose collections include around 50,000 shells. These were acquired by the museum in 1874, i.e. in the days when collecting shells was a popular pastime. The Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites houses a 34-ton meteorite that was discovered in Greenland in 1897. This important museum exhibit was excavated by researcher Robert Peary. The Hall of Gems houses a unique 563-carat sapphire called the Star of India, which is the largest in the world. This jewel was donated to the museum in 1901 by the American financier and banker John Pierpont Morgan.
Once you reach the second floor, you will find yourself in the Whitney Hall of Oceanic Birds, that is, among the seabird exhibits. This collection was donated to the museum by Vanderbilt Whitney, wife of Harry Payne Whitney, who was an avid ornithologist and supporter of ornithological research. During the 1920s and 1930s, he took part in many expeditions.
The third floor is dedicated to Pacific people in the Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific People. Margaret Mead was a film documentary filmmaker and a leading figure in American cultural anthropology, which was concerned with the research of individual cultures in Polynesia. Until her death in 1978, she worked right here, in the anthropology department of the museum. The third floor also includes exhibition halls dedicated to reptiles and amphibians, Indians from the eastern forests and prairies, primates and birds of North America.
The fourth floor offers six exhibition halls in which 500 million years of vertebrate evolution are clearly documented. You can find many of them in the halls of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallare Orientation Center or the Hall of Vertebrates Origins. Many visitors, however, head straight to the Hall of Saurishian Dinosaurs, where you can see the skeletons of erect dinosaurs, such as Tyrannosaurus rex or Apatosaurus, which was proud of its long tail. The Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaus exhibits a herbivorous Stegosaurus that was found in Wyoming, or a horned Styracosaurus. Mammals and their extinct relatives are exhibited in the other two exhibition halls. In addition to mastodons, saber-toothed tigers and giant sloths, you can also see a small mammoth and a 12-million-year-old horse. A total of 250 fossils are exhibited here.
One of the great attractions of this museum are also the dioramas – i.e. faithful depictions of the nature of that time, but also of today. This is how monumental works covering an area of up to 30 square meters were created – for example, a scene with American bison, a battle between a sperm whale and a huge cephalopod, or a faithful copy of a coral reef from the Bahamas. In the Hall of Human Biology and Evolution, there is a diorama with the ancient ancestors of man. These creatures are captured here in various activities that describe the dramatic development of humanity. Also surprising are the dioramas located in the Akeley Memorial Hall of African Mammals, where you can see African mammals in their natural habitat.
In addition to exhibits, the American Museum of Natural History also offers interactive entertainment. Here you will find shops, dining options and entertainment, such as the Imax cinema, Naturemax Theater, laser show and much more. The museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. The $15 entry fee for adults and $8.50 for children is well worth the experience. You will have a good time and at the same time get acquainted with the history of the development of life on earth. Therefore, do not miss a visit to the museum when visiting New York.