The American Museum of Natural History New York

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The American Museum of Natural History in New York

The American Museum of Natural History in New York, often just called AMNH, boasts an impressive collection of dinosaur skeletons and diverse animal taxidermies. Founded in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History NYC specialises in exhibitions (dioramas) that show all kinds of animals in their natural habitat. See-through the “windows on nature” and let the AMNH New York take you into an enchanted world of natural history.

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Interesting Exhibits at the AMNH

Sometimes people confuse the museum with “American National History Museum”, but the AMNH (the short form of the museum’s name) focuses entirely on nature, not on the historical development of the United States. If you’re familiar with the museum thanks to the famous movie “Night at the Museum”, then you’ll probably know how big it is! The American Museum of Natural History is one of the largest natural history museums on earth, so it’s easy to get lost. So it’s best to decide in advance what you want to see.

There are several permanent exhibitions that are worth a visit, plus changing special exhibitions. These special exhibitions in the Natural History Museum are usually presented with the help of 3D-films and other interactive elements. You might need to purchase an individual ticket for such shows. As these tickets are usually also not included in the discount passes, consider individually if it’s worth paying extra.

Take a look at the 45 fascinating permanent exhibition halls (if you have the time) that showcase the history of nature on the American continent and earth in general. With 33 million artefacts, you will find something interesting for sure! Here are my personal favourites, which I can recommend to everyone, young and old alike.

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Dinosaurs in the Fossil Halls

Let’s start with the most famous part of the museum, which is housed on the fourth floor. In the Dinosaur Wing, you will find countless specimens of these awe-inspiring prehistoric creatures. The sheer length of some of the bones can make you feel really small! Greet the Titanosaur, a newly discovered species, that is more than 37 meters long and barely fits in one of the fossil halls. Two of my favourites are also located in the Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs: Stegosaurus, the dino with its plates on the back and Triceratops with the two large horns. There are even some dinosaur eggs in a nest on display!

The Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals

In the Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, you can admire more than 5,000 mineral species from around the world. When you enter the hall, you will see an impressive purple gemstone that formed nearly 135 million years ago, but also gemstones used in jewellery and carvings. You can find information on how the vast diversity of minerals originated and how scientists study them.

The American Museum of Natural History in New York Exhibit The American Museum of Natural History in New York Gems

Admire a giant Mammoth

In the Hall of the Advanced Mammals, you can see the impressive bone structure of a mammoth that lived thousands of years ago (11,000 years to be exact). Find this relative of the now living elephants together with other mammals in the Wing of Mammals and Their Extinct Relatives on the 4th floor. Don’t miss out on the scary Lestodon, a giant ground sloth whose skeleton looks way less friendly than the cute sloths we know nowadays.

Mammal Halls – Home of the wild

The Mammal Halls of the American Museum of Natural History is divided into 6 subcategories: North America, Africa, Asia, New York, Primates and Small Mammals. If you don’t have enough time, pick at least one or better two of these, as you really need to experience the charming dioramas of the different species. The animals here seem nearly lifelike in their special habitat.

Don’t miss the African elephants and lions, located on the second and third floor. The majesty of these animals is perfectly conveyed in the preparations. The Asian mammals’ department on the 2nd floor of the natural history museum is equally fascinating. If you are interested in the state of New York’s wildlife, head to the Hall of the New York State Mammals. And don’t forget the North American Mammals on the first floor! There are 43 dioramas awaiting you, for example, Alaska brown bears, moose and fuzzy musk oxen.

American Museum of Natural History in New York T Rex AMNH in New York Diorana Wildlife

Dive into the Ocean Life at AMNH New York

On the first floor, the Hall of Ocean Life lets you dive into the depths of the oceans. You learn how diverse the marine environment is and you can also find the largest animal in the world, a blue whale, right above your head. The blue whale is only one of 750 sea creatures on display here. In the deep blue you might also encounter a sperm whale and a giant squid fighting or a whale shark, the largest living fish.

A Space Odyssey at the Rose Center for Earth and Space

The Rose Center for Earth and Space on the first and second floor. Here, the American Museum of Natural History New York gives you a glimpse into the endless space and our universe. Take a look at the digital universe atlas in the planetarium or walk the cosmic pathway that makes you feel like you are on board of the starship Enterprise. Worth a visit is also the lower level where the largest meteorite ever found in the US is displayed. The Willamette meteorite weighs more than 15 tons and crashed with a speed of 64,000 kilometres per hour into the earth.

American Museum of Natural History in New York - Ocean Life AMNH in New York Rose Center for Earth and Space in NYC

Gilder Center

The American Museum of Natural History’s Richard Gilder Center for Science is the new extension of the museum and can be found on all four floors. You can use it as an entrance, located in Theodore Roosevelt Park. The first thing you encounter is the canyon-like Griffin Atrium, which looks like it’s carved into rock; like something out of the Flintstones. At the Gilder Center you can see more than 1,000 butterflies at the Davis Family Butterfly Vivarium, discover all kinds of insects and explore the Invisible Worlds Immersive Experience.

The American Museum of Natural History in New York - Gilder Center The American Museum of Natural History in New York - Extension

Other permanent exhibitions at the Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History also has several more permanent exhibitions, like the Biodiversity and Environmental Halls, where you can learn more about endangered and extinct species, such as the dodo. If you like birds, take a peek into the Hall of Birds of the World on the second floor. You can check out king penguins, cockatoos and Andean condors. If you are more of a reptile person, visit the third floor, where crocodiles, deadly frogs and Komodo dragons are the stars.

Another big part of the museum is the Humans Origins and Cultural Halls, on the second and third floor. Retrace the evolution of humans and their origins with the help of artefacts from the Maori, Amazon natives, Incas, Yoruba, Aztec and many more. If you are a fan of the Easter Island Head from the film “Night at the Museum”, you will find the moai cast on the third floor in the Hall of the Pacific People.

As of January 26, 2024, the Native American artefacts are under review and closed to the public.

Eric’s Visit in 90 minutes

To be completely honest: You could spend a whole day at the American Museum of Natural History NY and still not see everything. The museum is 190,000 square meters big after all! My first visit is usually to the dinosaurs. Go to the fourth floor and find the exhibit “AMNH 5027” in the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs. It has a jaw that stretches up to 1,2 meters and really tiny arms. Better known under the name Tyrannosaurus rex or “Rexy”, this predator really lived up to its name.

Afterwards, I head straight down to the third floor in order to see the African mammal dioramas. This is a two-floor space, so after having seen the upper part I head down to the second floor for the rest. From there I continue to the Asian Mammals located on the same floor. It’s easy to lose track of time so know in advance where your favourite animals are. Don’t get confused though, both departments have elephants.

The last departments are on the first floor. I make a short visit to the underwater world of Ocean Life. The spot with a view of the blue whale is popular for photos; commemorate your visit with a selfie of yourself and the marine mammal! From there I walk to the Gems and Mineral exhibition. Particularly impressive are the purple gemstone and the Fluorescent Slab, where you can watch the different minerals come alive under ultraviolet light.

How to visit the American Museum of Natural History NYC

The most important rule of visiting this natural history museum is knowing where to go. So don’t forget to take a floor map at the entrance! Otherwise, you might get lost and feel like you are wandering aimlessly around while not seeing the best exhibitions.

Due to its extensive size, topic and the many different displays, it’s a perfect activity with kids in New York. It’s also great when it’s a rainy day or when you want to warm up a bit in winter. With good weather, you can go afterwards for a stroll or picnic in Central Park, which is located on the other side of the street. The size and the location of the building are outstanding, you really can’t miss the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Even the Hop on Hop off bus stops right in front of it on the Uptown tour.

The museum has several shops where you can buy all kinds of unique and quirky things, from t-shirts to books and educational toys. If your kid is into dinosaurs be warned: it might be hard to get them out of there without buying a Triceratops plushie or a T-Rex skeleton kit.

There are two cafés, one on the first floor in the Grand Gallery, where you can drink wine and beer and another café on the fourth floor, where light meals and snacks are served. On the lower level, across the subway entrance, you’ll find the food court, where the selection is bigger and good for dining with the whole family.

Eric’s Tip: “This might be my favourite museum in New York and I am usually not really into museums but for the AMNH I gladly make an exception. It’s really something for everyone! If you want to get in quick, use the side entrance located at 81st Street. For the real experience, take the main entrance. Here you will directly stand eye to eye with a dinosaur.”

Private Tour American Museum of Natural History New York

The American Museum of Natural History is a very popular museum and ticket lines are usually long. In order to make your visit more special and to avoid wasting time in the ticket queue, you can book a private tour including a skip-the-line ticket. During the 2-hour long tour, you will experience the highlights of the museum and you can ask the guide everything you always wanted to know about dinosaurs, mammoths and more.

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Practical information

The cloakroom can be found at the main entrance on the Central Park side (79th Street). Coats and bags can be checked in for a fee of $2 per person. Big backpacks and luggage cannot be checked in. All of the museum’s exhibitions are accessible by wheelchair. There are elevators near 77th Street and Central Park entrance.

It’s prohibited to drink or eat inside the museum. Photography is permitted for personal use but selfie-sticks and tripods are not allowed. You can download the official app of the AMNH in order to have access to the digital floor map and more info.

  • Opening hours:
    • Open daily: 10:00 – 17:30
    • Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
  • Location: The American Museum of Natural History address is 200 Central Park West, between West 77th Street and West 81st Street. Take the subway C or B (only on weekdays) to the 81st Street station, this is the closest stop. Alternatively, take line 1 to West 79th Street, it’s a 7-minute walk from here.

Getting tickets for the American Museum of Natural History

Buy your tickets in advance online, so you don’t have to queue long. This is faster than buying tickets on the spot. The entrance to the American Museum of Natural History is also included in the New York Pass and New York Sightseeing Flex Pass.

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Next to The American Museum of Natural History, there are many more top New York museums to visit.

American Museum of Natural History in New York Empty Tour American Museum of Natural History in New York - Dinosaur

Is the American Museum of Natural History free?

No, but I recommend to visit the American Museum of Natural History with a discount pass, as you will save money on entrance fees. Otherwise, book your tickets here in advance.

How much does it cost to go to the American Museum of Natural History?

The price of the tickets for the American Museum of Natural History depends on what kind of ticket you want to buy. A discount pass will usually save you money.

How long does it take to visit the American Museum of Natural History?

You can spend the whole day at the museum and still not see everything - allow at least 90 minutes or better more at the museum!

What should you not miss at the American Museum of Natural History?

The AMNH displays a big variety of dinosaur fossils but there is more to see! Read what you can’t miss in this post

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