The New York Museum of Natural History is one of the best museums in New York and one of the most visited museums in the United States. Since its founding in 1869 it has topped all lists of the best science museums in the world.
Many will know it from the movie "Night at the Museum" by Ben Stiller, especially the younger ones. Although in real life its collection does not come alive at nightfall, it is still worth a visit. I'll tell you the best ways to do it!
Access to the Natural History Museum by skipping the ticket office queues
With this early admission ticket you can visit the Natural History Museum without having to wait at the ticket office. Once inside, take your time and explore the gallery at your leisure.
Buying tickets to the New York Museum of Natural History will allow you to skip the lines at the ticket office 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 advance 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 want 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 love it and it is, therefore, one of the most visited museums in the city where long queues can form. It is best to avoid the museum's ticket offices and book your ticket to the Natural History Museum in advance to save time and go straight to the rooms, as there is a lot to see.
Even so, if you like to improvise and plan your trip on the fly, there is the possibility of buying tickets at the box office for these 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 buy a New York City Tourist Card that offers you a kind of flat rate to visit the most popular attractions in the city. With these passes you save time (in queues at the ticket office) and money, since the prices of each ticket 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
- MoMA tickets
- Tickets for the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Which pass to buy?
Before you start choosing your pass, you should know that there are two types of cards: those that you pay per day (and therefore you have a free bar to enter all the attractions you can during those days) or those that you pay for the number of attractions you want to visit (the most efficient if you already know what you want to see on your trip). In my article about the best tourist cards in New York we help you to choose the most suitable one for you.
Plan your visit to the Museum of Natural History
Location and directions
- Location: 200 Central Park West. New York, NY 10024-5102
- Directions: The New York Museum of Natural History can be reached by bus (M7, M10, M11, M79, M86 and M104) or 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 landscaped area facing Central Park, the Museum of Natural History 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 the large number of exhibits in the Natural History Museum, the visit can be overwhelming, especially if it is the first time. Therefore, you can choose to hire a guided tour of the American Museum of Natural History so that an expert guide will tell you all the details and you will not get lost in the immensity.
The ten permanent exhibits spread over more than forty rooms join the temporary exhibitions and the planetarium.
The Great Gallery is a meeting area where fossils and the Great Canoe, built by Native Americans at the end of the 19th century, are exhibited.
Biodiversity and Environmental Halls
It offers a vision of life on Earth and its beauty. One of the rooms is dedicated to the North American forests, another studies the relationship between living beings and their environment, another focuses on biodiversity and its threats, and another on life in the oceans, where a 28-meter-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 exhibition 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. It also highlights the Ahnighito meteorite, which crashed in Greenland.
The fossil exhibit has the largest collection of dinosaur and mammal relics. It is divided into six rooms 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 the mammals deals with the characteristics of small mammals, Asian mammals, African mammals, North American mammals, New York mammals and the primate hall with precise representations and a careful montage. 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 display 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 most famous entrance of the museum, Central Park West, houses the official monument to Theodore Roosevelt, governor of the state of New York and president of the United States. In addition, it also exhibits the giant skeleton of a Barosaurus.
In this space, children from 5 to 12 years old 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 famous president of the United States and one of the co-founders of the institution), the 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, the human being and the dissemination of science.
From that moment on, the museum's team traveled to every continent and was involved in expeditions that discovered the North Pole, crossed Mongolia and the Gobi Desert, entered the thick forests of the Congo, and charted unexplored areas of Siberia. Since then, the museum has continued its efforts, sponsoring some 120 expeditions a year and employing 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 "museistically" speaking, 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 MoMA has to offer (you can read here how to organize your visit: MoMA New York Tickets: how to buy, prices and schedules).
You can also visit other types 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 in NYC.
And if you still haven't 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.