American Museum of Natural History Highlights

American Museum of Natural History Highlights

The American Museum of Natural History (abbreviated as AMNH) is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City, and is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. It was across Central Park from us when we stayed in New York so we decided to walk the 30 minutes across the park to be at AMNH when it opened at 10am.

Arriving early and with pre-booked tickets in hand meant we didn’t need to queue.

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It’s unfair to call this a review of the American Museum of Natural History as we only spent 3 hours there and so for a museum that now comprises a staggering 25 interconnected buildings and more than 1.2 million square feet of exhibits, research facilities and libraries we certainly didn’t see enough of it to tell you all about it for you to decide whether to visit or not.

What I can say about the American Museum of Natural History is that I have mixed feelings about our trip to AMNH. The two shows that we watched whist we were there were amazing and so brilliantly done, and we however a lot of the halls we spent time in whilst at the AMNH were quite dated and didn’t feel like they had been changed in a very long time.  Some of them need some serious updating with comment on how and why and where the exhibit was found.

I do like that they have started to do this though as you can see from this exhibit where they have super imposed on the piece what they perhaps didn’t know when it was first put together.

American Museum of Natural History Highlights 

What you should definitely see at AMNH

The mission statement of the American Museum of Natural History is: “To discover, interpret, and disseminate—through scientific research and education—knowledge about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe.” It’s new attractions and special exhibitions certainly further that aim.

The Big Bang Space Show

We absolutely loved the Big Bang Space Show at AMNH. It was possibly one of the best shows I’ve ever seen about the Dark Universe and that’s not a subject that’s easy to explain to 7 and 8 year olds.  It was beautiful, engaging, fabulously narrated and kept everyone fascinated for the full 35 minutes.

The Big Bang Space Show takes place in The Rose Center for Earth and Space which is a large glass cube on the side of the AMNH which homes the incredible Big Bang Theatre and the Hayden Planetarium in a huge sphere. The building itself is worthy of a look.

Imax Theatre

Whilst we were a the AMNH there was a large screen film being shown called The Backyard Wilderness. In Backyard Wilderness, you follow a young girl who discovers the intricate secrets that nature has hidden close to her front door. It’s a captivating film and was a wonderful way to enjoy 23 minutes of peace, tranquility and whilst encouraging the kids to put down their phones and take a closer look at the ecosystem just beyond their bedroom windows.

A coyote encounters a butterfly in the IMAX documentary "Backyard Wilderness." Courtesy of Amber Hawtin
A coyote encounters a butterfly in the IMAX documentary “Backyard Wilderness.” Courtesy of Amber Hawtin

T-Rex Special Exhibition

“T. rex: The Ultimate Predator” opened in the American Museum of Natural History on 8th March 2019 and will be around until the Summer of 2020 giving you plenty of time to see this special exhibition. You get a view of life-sized models, fossils and casts, all of which are based on the most up-to-date information about the beloved (yet feared) creatures, and some of the things you learn are a little surprising too.

Sadly we couldn’t do the the Museum’s first multiplayer VR experience as the kids weren’t old enough they need to be 12 but I’ve heard rave reviews of this. Be prepared for long queues though or head there as soon as it opens.

American Museum of Natural History Highlights

Unseen Oceans 

American Museum of Natural History have created a brand new exhibition called Unseen Oceans.

Unseen Oceans is full of interactive displays. Kinetic sand tables, and video games and the like. It’s the kind of exhibit that  the museum is moving more towards and what we’d hoped to see more of, albeit I do appreciate there is a huge cost involved in exhibits of this type.  I didn’t get a good photo but Globalmouse has a lovely one on her instagram.


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#ad Our second full day in New York has been absolutely jam packed and full of fun. We started off here at the brilliant American Museum of Natural History @amnh which was stacked to the rafters with everything from dinosaurs to the solar system. We loved the extra activities on offer including a VR experience with a T-Rex and a fabulous under the sea world in OCEANS where this photo was taken. Then we walked through beautiful, sunny Central Park, stopping for a picnic. I just love this park so much, we always seem to see a different side to it each time we visit. Then we headed in to the Metropolitan Museum of Art @metmuseum which was incredible. You wander through to find yourself suddenly in a Venetian bedroom from the 17th century or an Egyptian Temple, for example. The absolute best bit though was the special exhibition, Play It Loud where you can see memorabilia from the best of rock through the ages including the Beatles drum set from 1963, Elvis’s guitar and Lady Gaga’s piano amongst many many others. This is currently members only but opening to the public soon and if you’re in New York when it’s on definitely don’t miss it. Even the children were spellbound by all the different instruments linked to famous people. Finally we headed to one of my favourite places in New York @thetenementmuseum which is a building left as it was when the residents were evicted in the 1930s. It is so evocative and packed full of history which I just love. You pick a tour, we went to the Hard Times one, and learn about two families who lived in the building through difficult times and what became of them. It’s a way to really understand the history of New York and the struggles of its immigrant families. I want to do all the tours now, they are such a fascinating insight. It was a busy but wonderful day in New York 🍎

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Replica of a large blue whale

You kind of have to go and see this, like you have to see the one in the Museum of Natural History in London too. The size of them is just jaw dropping and a stark reminder of the size of our oceans. If I’m honest I prefer the way the London whale is displayed. It’s lighter and brighter and whilst this room was large it felt oppressive somehow. 

Still worth a look though!

©American Museum of Natural History / Chesek
©American Museum of Natural History / Chesek

Night at the Museum Tour

We watched the film before we flew out to New York so some of the exhibits from the film were definitely on our list. None more than Dum Dum, who thankfully we found!  You can download a tour of the film exhibits on your phone or pick one up from reception.

American Museum of Natural History Highlights

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

The regular admission fee to enter the American Museum of Natural History is $22 for adults, $12.50 for children (2-12), and $17 for students and seniors. It’s more if you want to visit special exhibits or the IMAX theatre and we suggest that you do.

The price increases to $33 for adults, $20 for children (2-12), and $27 for students and seniors if you want to see if all as this includes General Admission plus all special exhibitions, giant-screen film, and Space Show.

How long do you need at the American Museum of Natural History?

I think the answer to this question is how long is a piece of string. Even in a full day you’re not going to see it all. If you have kids the same age as mine though or younger they probably won’t manage a full day. So I’d do some research, choose your highlights and hit as much of it as you can.


You can see more of our New York posts here!

Again our experience was enhanced by the fact that it was by this time still only 11am and we were ahead of the crowds. I’d read reviews of full ferries and fraught lines into the hall but we experienced none of that as you can see from the photos.Things to do with Jet Lag in New York10 ways to make a trip to New York easier with KidsNEW YORK CITYPASS Will It Save You Money?Is it worth taking kids to Guggenheim Museum in New York?

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American Museum of Natural History Highlights




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Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!

Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.

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