Thursday, March 19, 2009

NYC09: A Day at the Museum

The American Museum of Natural History was made even more famous by the movie Night at the Museum. Sure, none of the movie was actually filmed there (except for the exterior shots.) And sure the movie featured a South American monkey which came out of the African exhibits – but the movie did reinvigorate interest. And after all, a lot of this museum's fame comes from its blunders.

You might be familiar with the Brontosaurs? You may also remember that such a dinosaur never actually existed, and that it was actually an Apotosaurus with the wrong skull on it? Well this mix-matched mix-up happened right here, at the American Museum of Natural History.

There are all sorts of ways to actually enter the museum. Perhaps entering from the street, through the main doors is your style? Perhaps you visited on a beautiful and sunny day, where you enjoyed a stroll through Central Park beforehand. Well doesn't that sound lovely for you? I entered during a downpour, and had no desire to go outside. For people such as myself, the museum has an entrance directly from the 81st street station.

When you approach the ticket booth you will notice some important phrasing regarding the ticket prices. Suggested Admission $15.00. Suggested. If your pocket are full, and you're in a giving mood, you can drop one hundred dollars. If you're running on empty, you don't need to pay a single cent. And much like the Bronx Zoo, they don't make you feel bad for this.

When you enter, you're best to find an information booth and grab a map. It's not too hard to get turned around in the dozens of buildings you'll pass through. You might also want to ask about the free guided tours. Tours run every hour, at fifteen past. They vary in length between one and two hours, and try to highlight the most important displays, offering a number of interesting facts that you might not otherwise discover.

Museum Highlights
The various animal exhibits in the museum were mostly collected decades ago. This was all done when people had to go out to the field, trap the animals, and bring the back. I was told that the displays in this museum were quite different than others at the time of construction. While most museums had all their cats together, and all their other similar animals together, this museum attempted to recreate the natural habitat of the creatures.

The gorillas were surrounded by foliage, with a painting of their mountainous homeland behind. One of the gorillas was two feet, beating its chest. These gorillas are not found in zoos either, I was assured,

I was then told how the specimens were collected. The posed gorilla beating its chest was like that became the person in the field actually saw it like that, when he approached it. The animals were then caught, shipped back to America, skinned, posed, and put on display. Reconcile that!

From that moment on, all the animal halls were a tab bit more macabre than they needed to be.

Dinosaurs are the main draw for most museums of this sort. Certainly pump museums, or canoe museums wouldn't be expected to have dinosaurs, though I imagine they wouldn't hurt admissions.

The main entrance opens up directly to the recreation of three skeletons set out on display. A sauropod is defending itself from a carnivorous beast.

The forth floor hosts the actual bones on which these are based. There you will also find a stegosaurus, triceratops, and tyrannosaurs rex, just to name a few. The highlight there for me was the pachycephalosaurus skull that visitors could touch. Being a head butting dinosaur, I got down on bended knee, and engaged the skull in what some assume is its primary usage.

The Hall of Human Origin
Here you will find information about DNA, old tools, and dioramas of privative man in all sorts of precarious situations where things do not seem as if they will turn out well for our ancestors. Tiny man walks hand in hand with tiny woman. Hairy man screams with hair woman as a vulture approaches. Ancient man is on the verge of death as he fails to notice a bear behind him.

Though less hands on, as this exhibit helps explain our origins, there's definitely something worthwhile about seeing it.

And to be sure, this is only a fraction of the the four floors, and multiple buildings have to offer.

Make sure you give yourself plenty of time for your visit. There's so much to see and do.


  1. I've been to this museum, but never saw it the way you've just illuminated for me. Thank you for the great information, your twist on basic information and so very appealing turn of a word! -- Tammie

  2. Yet another place I have to go to when I go back to NY. Thanks!


All original text and photographs Copyright © 2009 one.year.trip / previously.bitten | Theme Design by previously.bitten | Entries and Comments.Powered by Blogger