NYC Explorer: Day at The American Museum of Natural History

An icon of New York City, The American Museum of National History allows visitors to travel through time and across the world without leaving New York.

Celebrating 150 years (founded in April 1869), the museum is one of the largest in the world. Located on the corner of 81st Street and across from Central Park West – the museum spans 28 interconnected buildings, housing 45 permanent exhibition halls, as well as a library and planetarium.

The AMNH is a museum and a research institution.

My visit:

I first toured the museum in high school and fell in love with the fossils and dioramas of African animals and ancient species. I felt a bit like Indiana Jones on an expedition.

I finally returned in 2023 and my second visit did not disappoint.

The museum is expansive but designed with the tourist in mind. It is easy to break up your visit in different wings and cover a lot of territory in one day.

Of course the science lover in me could stay weeks in the museum and not see everything….that being said no matter what you do at the museum you’ll leave excited about natural science and history.

Pro tip: With museums, I always recommend researching their exhibits and permanent collections in advance beforehand. Download a map and make a list of your ‘Top Ten’ items of interest. This will help you make the most of your day and not ‘must see’ sites on your tour. As always be open to exploring ‘off the grid’ exhibits to expand your horizons.

  • Don’t forget to be flexible. If the one artifact happens to be on loan and not on view – it’s okay – enjoy the moment and discover what you can. The museum has 33 million artifacts – you’ll be amazed at what you may discover
  • I enjoyed the dioramas…even though I’ve been blessed to have seen many of the species featured in zoos or in the animals natural habitat – I learned so much about the species and geology.

Planning your day:

Everyone has slightly different interests, but I recommend starting your day early and breaking for lunch at the onsite cafe.

Refueled you can continue to explore the other galleries, check out The Hayden Planetarium and even an IMAX

  • Schedule your day based on any films, Curator Talks, timed entry…

fun Facts about the american Museum of Natural History

  • Founded in 1869 as the brainchild of Naturalist Albert Smith Bickmore, and a group of New York City’s proactive philanthropists, public officials and city planners to provide a place to teach others about natural history. The Roosevelts were actively involved in the museum’s founding along with other important New Yorkers.
  • The original museum was fairly small and located inside of Central Park before it moved to its current location
  • The museum has always seen itself as a research center…Since 1881 it has been sending research expeditions around the world…Currently the museum organizes more than 100 research expeditions each year to study a variety of important scientific areas and locations
  • Only 3% of the museums 33 million specimens and cultural artifacts are on display at a given time
  • The museum collection grows by 90% specimens each year
  • The original T-Rex lives here.
    • Fossil hunter Barnum Brown, who discovered the T-Rex, worked at the museum. He unovered the first T-Rex skelton in Hell Creek Montana in 1902…followed by a near complete skeleton in Big Dry Creek Montana in 1908. The skeleton can now be seen in the Hall of Surischian Dinosaurs
  • The Titansaur is so big it grazes the gallery’s 19-foot-high ceilings and at 122 feet is too long for it’s exhibit hall it has to ‘peek’ it’s head into the hall. It feels a bit like Jurassic Park.

  • The Titanosaur cast grazes the gallery’s approximately 19-foot-high ceilings, and, at 122 feet, is just a bit too long for its home. Instead, its neck and head extend out towards the elevator banks, welcoming visitors to the “dinosaur” floor. 
  • The museum has over 100,000 minerals and 3,700 gems
  • The museum has inspired several books and movies, most notably ‘Night at the Museum’ with Ben Stiller, which was playing in the museum gift shop.

If you are interested in visiting the museum in person or virtually check out their amazing website, where you can get online tour resources and discover the world of science and natural history in an interactive way.

Click here for their website

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