The American Museum of Natural History
is a great place to take children. But, make no mistake, it is not a museum primarily for them. It is a complex scientific and educational institution and one of the largest and most important museums in the world. Founded in 1869 , this classic museum for kids of all ages contains halls of fascinating wonderlands holding more than 30 millions artifacts;its interactive exhibits both in the original museum and its newest section, the Rose Center for Earth & Space are also out of this world. The most famous attaractions are its three large dinosaur halls, with various skeletons for ogling and the enormous (fake) blue whale that hangs from the ceiling of the Hall of Ocean Life. Kids of all ages will find something to be intrigued by, whether it’s the stuffed Alaskan brown bear the Star of India sapphire in the Hall of Minerals & Gems , the Imax film on jungle life, on the skullcap of a pachyephelasaurus a plant eating dinosaur that roamed the earth 65 million years ago. No matter what section of the museum you’re in , you’ll find enthusiastic volunteer guides who are exicted to answer questions.
The first floor of the museum includes halls and exhibit spaces devoted to birds, invertebrates, North American mammals, fish, forests, and the environment of New York State. The Hall of the Northwest Coast Indians has two imposing lines of totem poles running down the center of the room. The Hall of Mollusks and Our World includes items form a collection of 50,000 shells that the museum acquired in 1874, when shell collecting and decorating was a popular pastime. A 34-ton piece of a meteorite discovered in 1897 in Greenland and excavated by explorer Robert Peary is a highlight of the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites.
It’s the Rose Center For the Earth & Space, though, that has really been the star attraction ago. Just gazing at its facade – a massive glass box that contains a silver globe, home to space – show theaters and the planetarium – is mermerizing, especially at night when all of its otherworldly features are aglow. Step inside to trace the origins of the planets (especially Earth), ant to grab a cushy seat in the high – tech planetarium, where you can watch either the Search For Life : Are We Alone? , narrated by Harrison Ford, of Passport to the Universe, with soothing voiceover by Tom Hanks. Another, smaller theater explores the Big Bang Theory with Maya Angelou’s voice as your guide.
In its beginning, the museum consisted mostly of mounted birds and fishes; in the modern era, the museum has strived to exhibit its specimens in the most educational and compelling manner. Thus, the Hall of Human Biology and Evolution contains dioramas of our homind ancestors in action that capture the drama inherent in the story of man.
Visiting exhibitions at the museum are also popular, especially the recurring Butterfly Conservancy which lets you stroll through a house of glass with more than 600 butterflies from all over the worls. It provides an amazing opportunity to truly hang out with – and sometimes serve as a perch for – the creatures. Other special exhibits have recently included ‘Dinosaurs Alive!’, ‘Cosmic Collisions’ and ‘Water: H2O=Life’, all of which packed the museum, more so than usual, for months. You’ll also find a great, multilevel gift shop here, which is packed to the brim with unique kids’ gifts, books from current exhibits and speacilty items from jewelry to chocolates.
A nice evening treat for adults is the Starry Nights Live Jazz program, which takes place in the Rose Center on the first Friday of every month, with sets at 6 pm and 7.30 pm. Tapas,drinks and top jazz acts as all included with museum admission at these monthly gigs.
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