American Museum of Natural History Who Loves It (11)
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Address: Central Park W & W 79th St, New York, NY 10024
Neighborhood: Upper West Side (Lower)     Book: New York
Phone: 212-769-5100
Website: www.amnh.org
Landmarks Includes an outstanding planetarium and lots and lots of stuffed animals.
Museums Includes an outstanding planetarium and lots and lots of stuffed animals.

    
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General Information
NFT Map: 14
Address: Central Park West at 79th Street
Phone: 212-769-5100
Website: www.amnh.org or @AMNH
Hours: Daily, 10:00 am–5:45 pm; closed Thanksgiving Day & December 25.
Admission: Suggested general admission is $22 for adults, $12.50 for children (2–12), and $17 for senior citizens and students. Special exhibitions, IMAX movies, and the space show are extra; packages are available. Free to members.

Overview
Admit it. You secretly TiVo the Discovery Channel and the History Channel. You've even watched one--if not several--episodes of Star Trek. Something about African beetles, famous dead guys, and the unknown universe strokes your inner Einstein. Focus your microscope on this one, smarty-pants: the American Museum of Natural History, a paradise for geeks and aspiring geeks alike, not to mention good old nature lovers. And don't worry, your TV-watching secrets are safe with us.

Decades before anyone knew what an atom was, and when relativity was just a twinkle in Einstein's eye, Albert Smith Bickmore established the AMNH. Completed in 1869, the museum held its first exhibition in the Central Park Arsenal a few years later, garnering enough respect to acquire space along classy Central Park West. Architects Calvert Vaux and J. Wrey Mould designed the new, posh building on limited Benjamins and opened it to the public in 1877. Key additions followed: The Hayden Planetarium in 1935, the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall and Rotunda in 1936, and the Rose Center for Earth and Space in 2000.

As Saturday morning museum-going ritual dictates, it's going to be painfully crowded. On those days, you dodge out-of-towners, eyes wide, mouths gaping. It's much the same on weekdays with rowdy school kids on field trips. How to avoid the Excedrin-necessitating atmosphere? Two words: permanent collection. The amazing series of wildlife dioramas even inspired an entire Hollywood movie (albeit not a great one, by adult standards). Don't expect to see any PETA supporters in these halls though.

When you can go at off hours, or if you feel you can brave the crowds, make a point of checking out the fascinating and often provocative special exhibits.

The Greatest Hits
Five floors of star-lovin', mammal-gazin', bird-watchin', fossil-fuelin' science await. Rain forest fever? Check out the Hall of Biodiversity. Didn't understand why that movie was called The Squid and The Whale? See the giant squid get his dimly lit comeuppance in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. Celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is the voice behind the Dark Universe space show. For more instant thrills, check out the gigantic meteorites at the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites, or the five-story-tall dinosaur display in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda; it's the largest freestanding beast in the world. The AMNH also produces spectacular IMAX features, a great alternative to the museum's amazing but creepy taxidermy. The Hall of Gems houses the Star of India, the largest star sapphire in the world. Finally, for recreation of The Birds variety with less evil, visit The Butterfly Conservatory. Tropical butterflies flit all around you from, you guessed it, all over the world. It's enough to put TiVo on pause.

How to Get There--Mass Transit
Subway
Take the B or C to the 81st Street stop. Or take the 1 to 79th Street and walk two blocks east.

Bus
The M7, M10 and M11 all stop within a block of the museum. Take the M79 across Central Park if you are coming from the East Side.