CityPASS® Blog

Articles by City & Category

Your Guide to Visiting the American Museum of Natural History

May 25, 2023 By CityPASS

With more than 40 exhibition halls, the American Museum of Natural History in New York is the mother of all museums. There is so much to see, from the colossal cast of the recently discovered dinosaur Titanosaurus (Patagotitan mayorum) to the astounding timeline of human origins - you’ll always have a reason to come back for more. The new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, which includes an insectarium, butterfly vivarium, and an immersive experience is now open!

American Museum of Natural History Permanent Exhibits

The American Museum of Natural History has an impressive number of permanent exhibition galleries. The 21,000-pound blue whale suspended from the ceiling of the Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life is always a favorite, as are the dinosaur fossils on the fourth floor, which displays specimens from the largest dinosaur fossil collection in the world. Two remarkable large-scale amethyst geodes in the newly renovated Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals have become visitor favorites as well.

Below are just a few of the exhibits that promise to leave a lasting impression.

Biodiversity and Environmental Halls

Explore ecological biodiversity by walking through a 2500-square-foot diorama that recreates a portion of the Dzanga-Sangha Rain Forest, one of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth. The Spectrum of Life exhibit explores how 3.5 billion years of evolution has affected biodiversity in over 1,500 specimens and models ranging from the microscopic to the large and mysterious creatures of the deep.

Here you’ll also learn about history’s mass extinctions and the factors that threaten biodiversity today. Dive deeper into ocean life in the extraordinary Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life, home to one of the museum’s most beloved displays, the 21,000-pound, 94-foot-long blue whale model.

Earth and Planetary Sciences Halls

The Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites seeks to answer questions about the origins of the solar system by analyzing meteorites that have travelled through space and hit planet Earth.

The three sections of the hall focus on exploring the processes involved in planet formation and the creation of the solar system, as well as meteorite impacts and the details from those impact sites from around the world (Kansas, South Africa, Arizona, etc.).

There are more than 130 meteorites on display in the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites, along with Moon rocks and Mars specimens collecting during the 1970s Apollo missions. Learn about the significance of a meteor impact with the scaled model of the Barringer Crater of Arizona, considered to be the world’s best-preserved crater and one that forced scientists to think of the solar system in an entirely different way.

The gallery is next to the magnificently renovated Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Minerals and Gems. Telling the fascinating story of the vast diversity of Earth's mineral species, the galleries feature more than 5,000 specimens from 98 countries. The Melissa and Keith Meister Gallery in this hall features dazzling rotating exhibitions.

Fossil Halls

Perhaps the American Museum of Natural History’s most well-known halls are on the fourth floor.

Make sure you check out the Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs, showcasing Stegosaurus, the familiar three-horned face of Triceratops, a rare glimpse of the texture of dinosaur skin in the famous duck-billed dinosaur mummy, and the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs with its towering mounts of T. rex and Apatosaurus. Ornithischian dinosaurs are characterized by a backward-pointing extension of the pubis bone, which is thought to have helped to support the enormous stomachs that these dinosaurs needed to digest the masses of tough vegetation they ate. Saurischians are characterized by grasping hands, in which the thumb is offset from the other fingers.

You’ll also find the Milstein Hall of Advanced Mammals, which features casts and fossils of the legendary mammals that roamed the Earth after dinosaurs went extinct. Mammoths, mastodons, giant ground sloths, and saber-toothed cats trekked across North American land over 10,000 years ago during the last ice age. Here you’ll learn about their unique features and what lead to their ultimate demise.

Human Origins and Cultural Halls

The Hall of Human Origins and cultural halls put the vibrant diversity of humankind on display.

The Hall of Mexico and Central America features the spectacular art, architecture and artifacts of the Mesoamerican cultures dating back from 1200 BC to the early 1500s. For example, the Aztec Stone of the Sun, also known as Calendar Stone, is a cast of an ornate 20-ton stone calendar that illustrates the importance of the Sun in Aztec beliefs.

The Hall of African Peoples depicts aspects of the ceremonial, domestic, and governmental life across the African continent, its more than 50 nations, and people that speak over 1,000 languages. The hall gives you a look at how lifestyles and customs varied across different environments: grasslands, deserts, forests and the river regions.

The Anne and Bernard Spitzer Hall of Human Origins is also a must-see for all American Museum of Natural History visitors. Here you’ll cover millions of years’ worth of human history, from early hominids, who roamed the Earth over from 4 to 2 million years ago, to modern Homo sapiens, who is “only” about 200,000 years old! Fossils and DNA research provide remarkable knowledge into human ancestry and evolution.

Rose Center for Earth and Space

The Rose Center for Earth and Space includes the popular Hayden Planetarium. Explore Earth on a cosmic scale and see a phenomenal visual display of the 13-billion-year history of the universe and all it contains.

The 87-foot-diameter Hayden Sphere houses the Hayden Planetarium (upper half) and the Big Bang Theater (lower half). Here, visitors can look down into a concave screen to witness a spectacular and accurate display of the Big Bang, created by an amalgamation of millions of astronomical observations. See the universe in darkness and watch it expand, cool, and form gases, which then form galaxies, stars, and planets.

The Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Hall of the Universe expands upon the visuals displayed in the Hayden Planetarium and delves even further into the discoveries made with modern astrophysics. This hall is divided into four zones: the Universe Zone, the Galaxies Zone, the Stars Zone, and the Planet Zone. Each offers fascinating insights about space from a unique perspective!

The Discovery Squad for Kids With Autism

The Discovery Squad is a unique tour program designed for families looking for activities to do that are friendly and welcoming for those with autism spectrum disorders. The program was developed in collaboration with the Seaver Autism Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Find out about upcoming tours.

If you would like more information on the Discovery Squad or the full list of accessibility offerings that the Museum provides, please visit the official website.

Planning Your Visit

American Museum of Natural History Hours

For current hours of operation and more about what’s on, please refer to the attraction's website.

Museum of Natural History Tickets & Discounts

Tickets can be reserved online. The Museum does offer a pay-what-you-wish ticket for NY/NJ/CT residents only.

If you’re visiting New York and want to see some of the city’s best attractions, including the American Museum of Natural History, consider purchasing New York CityPASS® tickets to save up to on New York’s top attractions and skip the ticket lines altogether. CityPASS® tickets include general admission to AMNH, including the Rose Center for Earth and Space, plus a choice of one ticketed exhibition, the Davis Family Butterfly Vivarium, giant-screen film, or the Hayden Planetarium Space Show.

Museum Parking and Transportation

You can find parking at the Museum at 81st Street between Central Park West and Columbus Ave. Parking hours are 8am - 11pm.

For the subway, take the B (weekdays only), C to 81st Street, or 1 to 79th Street and walk east to the Museum. The M79 bus travels east/west on West 79th Street across Central Park, with a stop next to the Museum on West 81st Street. The M7, M10, M11, M86, and M104 also stop at or near the Museum. For more detailed information, including travel by train, please visit the American Museum of Natural History website.

Nearby Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in New York City, we recommend finding lodging near New York City's top attractions like the American Museum of Natural History. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

Tips and Tricks for a Better Visit

You can easily lose track of time in the massive American Museum of Natural History. It’s possible to spend an entire day here and still not see everything there is to see! Give yourself as much time as you can and check out exhibits online beforehand to plan out an itinerary. Visit the Museum’s website to plan your visit, or download the free Explorer app for turn-by-turn directions to exhibits and amenities, available on iOS and Android in multiple languages.

Or, check out some of the self-guided tours to streamline your visit! The Night at the Museum tour is a great option for families and takes you to all the exhibits theses popular films are based on.

Whatever itinerary you choose, don’t forget to bring good walking shoes, water and maybe snacks, because you’re in a for a full day’s adventure.

If you have questions or get turned around during your visit, the Museum guides are very well-informed and happy to help. You can learn something new or find your way around a lot easier with a little help from the Museum staff.

Finally, don’t forget to check out New York CityPASS® tickets to save money and time with your visit!

Related Articles

Get inspired. #citypass