This is one of the hottest museum tickets in town, thanks to the Rose Center for Earth and Space, whose four-story-tall planetarium sphere hosts the show, Cosmic Collisions, narrated by Robert Redford, about the violent beginnings of the universe. Prepare to be blown away by this astounding, literally earth-shaking short film.
Buy your tickets in advance for the Space Show in order to guarantee admission (they're available online); I also recommend buying tickets in advance for a specific IMAX film or special exhibition, such as the Butterfly Conservatory , especially during peak seasons (summer, autumn, holiday time) and for weekend visits; otherwise, you might miss out.
Other must-sees include the Big Bang Theater, which re-creates the theoretical birth of the universe; the Hall of the Universe, with its very own 16-ton meteorite; and the terrific Hall of Planet Earth, which focuses on the geologic processes of our home planet (great volcano display!). All in all, you'll need a minimum of 2 hours to fully explore the Rose Center. The rest of the 4-square-block museum is nothing to sneeze at, either. Founded in 1869, it houses the world's greatest natural-science collection in a group of buildings made of towers and turrets, pink granite, and red brick. The diversity of the holdings is astounding: some 36 million specimens, ranging from microscopic organisms to the world's largest cut gem, the Brazilian Princess Topaz (21,005 carats). Rose Center aside, it would take you all day to see the entire museum, and then you still wouldn't get to everything. If you don't have a lot of time, you can see the best of the best on free highlights tours offered daily every hour at 15 minutes after the hour from 10:15am to 3:15pm. Free daily spotlight tours, thematic tours that change monthly, are also offered; stop by an information desk for the day's schedule. Audio Expeditions, high-tech audio tours that allow you to access narration in the order you choose, are also available to help you make sense of it all.
If you only see one exhibit, see the dinosaurs, which take up the fourth floor.
The Hall of Biodiversity is an impressive multimedia exhibit, but its doom-and-gloom story about the future of rainforests and other natural habitats might be too much for the little ones. Kids 5 and up should head to the Discovery Room, with lots of hands-on exhibits and experiments. (Parents, be prepared: There seems to be a gift shop overflowing with stuffed animals at every turn.) The Spitzer Hall of Human Origins in the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Hall traces the evolution of man and even offers children's workshops where kids can compare skull casts of early humans.
The museum excels at special exhibitions, so check to see what will be on while you're in town in case any advance planning is required. The magical Butterfly Conservatory, a walk-in enclosure housing nearly 500 free-flying tropical butterflies, has developed into a can't-miss fixture from October through May; check to see if it's in the house while you're in town.
- © Frommer's 2013
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Ask New York City Locals about American Museum of Natural History
- Very Highly Recommended 2010
- visit website
- tel: 212/769-5100 for information
- 79 Street And Central Park West, New York, NY
- Central Park West (btwn 77th and 81st sts.)
- New York, NY 10024
- Daily 10am-5:45pm; Rose Center open 1st Fri of every month until 8:45pm
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