The New York Museum of Natural History is one of the most visited museums in the United States and since its founding in 1869 has topped every list of the best science museums in the world.
Many will know it from the movie "Night at the Museum" by Ben Stiller, and although in real life its collection doesn't come alive at nightfall, it's still worth a visit - here are the best ways to do it!
Access the Natural History Museum by skipping the lines at the ticket office
With this early bird ticket you can visit the Natural History Museum without waiting at the ticket office. Once inside, take your time and explore the gallery at your leisureFrom $ 23 at Hellotickets
With a ticket to the New York Museum of Natural History, you will be able to skip the ticket office lines and enjoy the permanent exhibits. Of course, security checks are unavoidable and may delay your access to the collection, which I describe below.
Once you have purchased your ticket, in order to take sanitary measures against COVID-19 during your visit, the museum also asks you to make a date reservation and a scheduled entry on the museum's website to gain access to the museum. Once you receive the confirmation email you will find all the instructions to access the museum.
Why I like this option: with this early admission ticket you are assured access to the Natural History Museum without having to wait in line at the ticket office. In addition, you can stay inside for as long as you like and explore the gallery at your leisure.
Recommended if... you are thinking of visiting the Natural History Museum and want to get an early bird ticket at the best price.
Buy tickets for the Museum at the box office
The Natural History Museum is one of the essential tourist attractions. Both children and adults like it and it is, therefore, one of the most visited museums in the city where you are sure to find long queues. It is best to avoid the museum ticket offices and book in advance the entrance to the Museum of Natural History to save time and go directly to tour the rooms, as there is much to see.
Still, if you like to improvise and plan your trip on the fly, there is the possibility to buy tickets at the box office at the following prices:
- Adult $ 23
- Child (3-12) $ 13
- Senior (60+) $ 18
- Student (with ID) $ 18
Tourist cards that include the Natural History Museum
To get the most out of your trip to New York you can purchase a New York City Tourist Card that offers you a sort of flat rate to visit the city's most popular attractions. With these passes, you save time (in queues at the ticket office) and money, since the prices of each entry are more profitable.
The New York tourist cards that include access to the Museum of Natural History are:
What do the passes usually include?
- Tickets to the Museum of Natural History
- Access to the New York sightseeing bus
- A pass for the ferry or cruise on the Hudson River
- Tickets to the most popular observation decks (Top of the Rock, the Empire State Building, or the One World Observatory)
- Tickets to the 9/11 Memorial and the 9/11 Museum
- Tickets for MoMA
- Metropolitan Museum of Art tickets
Which pass to buy?
Before you jump into choosing your pass, you should know that there are two types of cards: those that you pay per day (and therefore you have unlimited access to all the attractions you can visit during those days) or those that you pay for the number of attractions you want to visit (the most efficient if you already have a set itinerary and know what you want to see on your trip). In my article about the best New York tourist cards we help you to choose the right one for you.
Organize your visit to the Museum of Natural History
Location and how to get there
- Location: 200 Central Park West. New York, NY 10024-5102
- How to get there: To get to the New York Museum of Natural History you can take the bus (M7, M10, M11, M79, M86, and M104 lines) or the subway (81st St. Museum of Natural History Station, B and C lines)
- Hours: The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 5:30 PM
- Closing days: Thanksgiving and Christmas
Isabel's Traveler tip
The Natural History Museum is huge and there is a lot to see, so plan your visit well. Set aside at least 3 hours to explore at your leisure.
What to see at the Natural History Museum
Located in a garden area facing Central Park, the Natural History Museum consists of 28 interconnected buildings that house dozens of permanent exhibition halls, research laboratories, and its popular library. Its facilities house what is considered to be the world's largest collection of more than 35 million pieces, which, due to lack of space, cannot be exhibited at the same time.
Given its size and a large number of exhibits in the Natural History Museum, a visit can be overwhelming, especially if it is the first time. The ten permanent exhibits spread over more than forty rooms are joined by temporary exhibitions and a planetarium.
The Grand Gallery is a meeting area where fossils and the Great Canoe, built by Native Americans in the late 19th century, are on display.
Biodiversity and Environmental Halls
It offers a view of life on Earth and its beauty. One hall is devoted to North American forests, another studies the relationship between living things and their environment, another focuses on biodiversity and its threats, and another on life in the oceans, where a 91-feet-long model of a blue whale is on display.
Birds and Reptiles and Amphibians Halls
On the one hand, its rooms represent the great variety of birds existing on the planet with special attention to those of North America and New York. On the other hand, this exhibition also deals with reptiles and amphibians.
Earth and Planetary Sciences Halls
This exhibit has three rooms dedicated to meteorites, minerals, and gems. On display here are the Patricia Emerald (one of the most spectacular in existence), the Midnight Star Ruby (a deep red ruby star) or the Star of India (the largest carved star sapphire on the planet), the protagonist of a robbery at the museum in the 1960s. Also of note is the Ahnighito meteorite, which crashed in Greenland.
The fossil exhibit has the largest collection of dinosaur and mammal relics. It is divided into six halls that focus on the origins of vertebrates, dinosaurs, large mammals, and primitive mammals. In this space, you can see specimens of Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus, and Brontosaurus, among others.
Human Origins and Cultural Halls
This exhibition explores the history of human evolution as well as the different cultures of peoples in Africa, Asia, North and South America, and the Pacific.
The exhibition dedicated to mammals addresses with accurate representations and careful montage the characteristics of small mammals, Asian mammals, African mammals, North American mammals, New York mammals, and the primate hall. Its dioramas are among the most famous in the world.
Rose Center for Earth and Space
The Rose Center is one of the museum's most unique exhibits. Its exhibit is dedicated to the study of the universe, galaxies, planets, and stars. In this area, you can visit the Hayden Planetarium and the spectacular Hayden Sphere.
Theodore Roosevelt Memorial
This hall at the museum's best-known entrance, Central Park West, houses the official memorial to Theodore Roosevelt, governor of New York State and president of the United States. In addition, it also displays the giant skeleton of a Barosaurus.
In this space, children ages 5 to 12 can learn about science, research, and nature in the company of adults by experimenting interactively with puzzles, artifacts, and scientific challenges.
Getting to know the New York Museum of Natural History a little better
After enlisting the support of personalities such as Theodore Roosevelt Sr. (father of the celebrated president of the United States and one of the institution's co-founders), naturalist Albert S. Bickmore succeeded in fulfilling the dream of creating the New York Museum of Natural History in 1869 for the study of the universe, the Earth, human beings and the dissemination of science.
From then on, the museum's team traveled to every continent and was involved in expeditions that discovered the North Pole, traversed Mongolia and the Gobi Desert, penetrated the thick forests of the Congo, and charted unexplored areas of Siberia. Since then the museum has not let up and sponsors some 120 expeditions annually and employs more than 225 scientists.
Other interesting museums in New York
By now you should know that New York has a tourist offer that stands out above many other capitals in the world. And in terms of museums and art galleries, it is not far behind. If you feel like visiting some of its most popular museums, don't hesitate to take a look at what the MoMa has to offer (you can read here how to organize your visit: MoMA Tickets).
You can also visit other kinds of exhibitions during your trip, such as the 9/11 Memorial/Museum, dedicated to the terrorist attacks that took place on 9/11. Here are my impressions of the visit and some tips about it: 9/11 Memorial Tickets and Tours.
And if you still have not decided (no wonder, because the list of museums is endless) I leave here a summary of the ones that, for me, are the best: 12 best museums in New York City.