Now that the city is being rattled by autumnal winds, a wander around its museums seems the perfect way to spend a chilly Sunday afternoon. So today Ryan and I visited one of its best: the American Museum of Natural History.
The seemingly endless rooms of dinosaur bones, animal models, human artifacts, special exhibitions and insights into the universe are housed in the huge museum near 81st Street. Of course, this was Sunday so the queues were a little pesky, but thankfully the museum is so massive that when we finally made it to the exhibits, nothing felt too crowded.
As we bought our tickets, we were told to choose four special exhibits – and we opted to see the planetarium (for a 30-minute movie about space), a butterfly house, a whale exhibition and another about frogs. While they were all so fascinating, the frog exhibit was by far the best.
There were cases upon cases of different types of frogs – all happily snoozing in makeshift pondscapes. There was such a variety – from neon-colored poisonous frogs and wobbly gelatinous ones, to others that were near impossible to spot among the leaves. In fact, this was the part I liked best – heading to a case and seeing how long it took to spot the little guys smiling among the branches.
The other special exhibits were also pretty cool – the butterflies, the whales and the planetarium.
This place is huge and yet it’s not overwhelming because it’s just so well curated. There isn’t too much to read – which makes it kid-friendly – and instead the exhibitions rely on being very visual. For example, there are rooms upon rooms of animals from all over the world with succinct descriptions of their lives. The presentation is simple yet really effective.
And of course there were the dinosaurs – although many of the skeletons were actually casts, we learned. As well as checking these out, we also visited an amazing section on gems and minerals, and others on human history.
When we had arrived earlier in the day, we were given entry times to the exhibits, and I’d been really annoyed because the final entry time was hours from when we arrived. I was raging because there was no way I expected still to be there three hours later… and yet that actually flew past. It was so easy to pass an afternoon there. And I didn’t even feel like we saw the half of it.
While it’s ideal for kids (I honestly would be there every weekend if I had kids), it’s so interesting for adults too. I’ll definitely be telling friends who are playing tourists to come here in the future.
The American Museum of Natural History is open from 10am until 5.45pm every day.