From the moment we spotted the building, I knew that The American Museum of Natural History was a win.
Alright, if I’m being honest ‘we’ didn’t spot the building. Amy did. In comparison to the outside of most museums I have been in contact with, it seemed far too historical and architecturally intriguing to be home to historical wonders.
That might just be an ‘I told you so’ face Amy is giving me. It’s either that or her ‘I’m so glad we’re here’ face. I’m going to say it’s the latter.
We arrived shortly after they opened and though there was a slight line, we didn’t wait for long. I was pleasantly surprised to see that though they have a recommended entrance fee, the museum is ‘pay as you wish’ and has been for several years. We learned later from our friend, JP, that this is definitely a nice incentive for poor college kids (as he once was) who want to spend their downtime at the museum.
Amy was excited for the dioramas, which we were first met with in the Hall of African Mammals.
These big guys made me think of the marching elephants in Disney’s original Jungle Book.
Once we were finished there, it was off to the dinosaurs. Lance made us go through the exhibit in what he called “the correct order”, but what felt to Amy and me to be a completely backwards, twisty way of going through the exhibit. We began with the Hall of Vertebrate Origins which showed the evolution of vertebrates and made me yawn.
Alright, there were a few cool things like this python skeleton in the ‘alive today’ section yet when all was said and done, I could have passed over that section. Oddly enough, I found out later that this was Lance’s favorite section.
How could that be better than dinosaur fossils mounted in such ways that display their massive and dominating presence?
I love this globe that showed where certain fossils have been found.
I also loved the information behind it, but for reasons I’m certain you’d never imagine.
The longer I stared at this wall, the more the layers of volcanic rubble* looked to me like chocolate cake.
*I’m totally assuming that this is what that is. I was confused by hunger, I snapped the picture merely to remember this as the most beautiful layered chocolate cake I have ever seen in my life.
These guys were incredible. They are Stenomylus hitchcocki, or “narrow tooth” camels, discovered in 1908 buried in dune sand in western Nebraska. What I found particularly interesting about them was their size. They were no higher than my knee.
I know this diorama shows a normal and quite natural thing among this group of birds, but as I looked at it I could only think of how not so normal and completely unnatural it looked.
Once we finished with the birds, it was time to start searching for an exit in order to get to lunch.*
*Which obviously I needed because I was turning layers of volcanic rock into baked goods.
We were quite twisted up, because the museum is ridiculously huge, to say the least, and ended up running into a familiar face:
The Easter Island Head, as seen in Night at the Museum.
I know I’m a grown adult and all, but a small part of me wanted him to ask Dum Dum for gum gum.
It took a while to gather our bearings and figure out how to exit the museum.
Then it took another moment for us to gather our bearings outside to figure out how to get to The Meatball Shop.
Here’s one of many reasons I love New York…
While we were heading back to the museum, our buddy JP told us about the first floor of the museum which we had not yet visited (we entered on the second floor). The 94-foot long, 21,000 pound blue whale model he described was something we knew we did not want to miss.
We also learned that this room is used for wedding receptions.
And I suddenly wished that I was getting married now and also rich enough to afford a wedding in NYC.
The Hall of Biodiversity which led to the Hall of Ocean Life was breathtaking. It was an array of beauty as only our world and its Creator can possess.
Though the previous seen dioramas were well done, my favorite were the sea mammals.
With only a few short hours left*, we ended our trip with the Halls of Minerals, Gems, and Meteorites.
*The museum closes at 5:45 everyday. Even without our lunch break, I think to be able to have a true visit with each exhibit you would need two days. And that isn’t including the special exhibits.
I tried desperately to get a picture of this meteorite alone…
But this guy kept on standing there.
I wouldn’t have minded so much, but he refused to stand still and pose as an interested observer.
This meteor is called “Ahnighito” and was discovered in 1894 in Greenland. It is so heavy that the support beams go down to the bedrock beneath the museum.
The Halls of Gems and Minerals had an oddly seventies feel about them. The above block of azurite-malachite ore from Bisbee, Arizona was particularly eye catching. I think I would like it for my living room.*
*That is, the living room in the mansion I can afford in my NYC living fantasy.
Of everything we saw, and there was quite a lot to take in, my favorite room in the museum was The Hall of Northwest Coast Indians. This also happens to be the oldest hall of the museum.
Though the totem poles are what first caught my eye, the beauty and intricacies found in each item of this area are what really drew me in.
The American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024