The American Museum of Natural History

Founded in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan’s Upper West Side has long been a destination for locals and tourists alike.

The American Museum of Natural History is one of the largest museums in the world! It’s made up of 28 buildings, houses 45 permanent exhibition halls and is home to over 33 million specimens. It also has a planetarium and library. You could devote over a year of your life to living in AMNH and still not see everything!

What’s more, the AMNH is a living, breathing scientific institution that’s still working and doing research today. Whether it be charting expeditions to every continent on the planet or unearthing the largest dinosaur to ever walk the earth they’re still discovering new things about the world around us every day!

Instead of running up your step count trying to see every one of the 33 million items during your visit, let us do the work for you! There are certainly tons of things to see at AMNH, but, if you don’t have a year to devote to checking them out, we’d highly suggest joining us for a high-energy renegade tour.

Need more convincing? The “Night at the Museum” movie series was based on the American Museum of Natural History – Do we need to say more?

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5 Things to See at the American Museum of Natural History

Lucy

We think Lucy in the Hall of Human Origins at the American Museum of Natural History is pretty dang neat.

Lucy is one of the most complete skeletons of early hominids ever found. She’s over three million years old (we think she looks great for her age) and was discovered in 1974 in Ethiopia. The original bones are still there at the National Museum of Ethiopia. AMNH has a caste of the originals, which we still think is pretty cool. She’s a pretty big deal not just for her age and completeness, but for the fact that her knees show us that she walked upright!

The Great Blue Whale

No list of things you can’t miss at the American Museum of Natural History would be complete without the Great Blue Whale, which you literally cannot miss.

Seriously, it’s huge!

Located in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, the Great Blue Whale is 94 feet long and weighs 21,000 pounds. It’s a great reminder of the majesty and beauty of blue whales, which unfortunately have been hunted to near extinction in the wild.

Our Weird Cousin, the Dimetrodon

It seems like every family has a black sheep cousin or two that simply has to have been adopted and, in the Hall of Primitive Mammals, there’s an exhibit devoted entirely to humanity’s awkward cousin.

The Hall of Primitive Mammals traces the evolution of mammals back to their origins, over 300 million years ago. There were even tiny mammals scampering around during the age of dinosaurs, though they didn’t really get a chance to do their thing until after the dinosaurs died.

The oldest relative to mammals is Dimetrodon, who sits right at the intersection of the evolutionary tree that has dinosaurs, reptiles and birds on side and humans on the other. He may not have had your shiny hair or clear skin, but he did have three middle ear bones and a special opening behind his eyes in his skull that allowed his eye muscles to develop. And, like any scaly, benevolent great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, he passed on those features to us!

Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you have to invite him to Thanksgiving dinner.

Horny Dead Animals

“Horny dead animals?!” you exclaim, clutching your pearls, “But I thought the American Museum of Natural History was suitable for all ages!”

Rest assured, yes, the AMNH is suitable for children. The horny dead animals we’re referring to are, of course, the dinosaurs!

The dinosaur skeletons at the AMNH are pretty amazing and certainly unmissable. There are two different halls in the David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing: the Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs and the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs.

All dinosaurs fit into two different groups and yep, you guessed it, those two groups are ornithischian and saurischian. The latter, saurischians, are characterized by their grasping hands, in which the thumb is offset from the other fingers. Think of T-rex and his tiny little arms.

Ornithischian dinosaurs, on the other hand, are known for having enormous stomachs to digest the massive amounts of vegetation they ate.

Both halls are amazing and well worth a visit. Make sure to bring your camera and brush up on your selfie game before you go!

The Dzanga-Sangha Rainforest

Located in the Hall of Biodiversity, the Dzanga-Sangha Rainforest exhibit is a beautiful tribute to some of the most unique vegetation and wildlife in the world.

The real-life Dzanga-Sangha rainforest is located in Africa and houses some of the highest concentrations of forest elephants and lowland gorillas in the world.

Since getting to the real Dzanga-Sangha rainforest requires a lot more time and resources than getting to the AMNH, make sure you take the time to stop by this marvel and learn about the efforts to protect it from agriculture, timber, and mining operations.