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Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, New York
Phone: 212 769 5100 --
copyright D. Finnin, AMNH
For over 130 years, the American Museum of Natural History has been one of the world. s preeminent institutions for scientific research and education. The Museum is renowned for its collections and exhibitions, which serve as a field guide for the entire planet and present a panorama of the world. s cultures.
The Museum was founded in 1869 . for the purpose of& encouraging and developing the study of Natural Science, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and to that end of furnishing popular instruction.. It had modest beginnings, occupying a portion of the Arsenal Building in Central Park. Included among its early collections were the bones of a Dodo, a mastodon. s tooth, and 4,000 American beetles.
In 1874 President Ulysses S. Grant laid the cornerstone for a new building to occupy Manhattan Square, eighteen acres of undeveloped land at the western edge of Central Park. The Museum has since grown to become one of the largest natural history museums in the world, housing more than 32 million cultural artifacts and scientific specimens, numerous research laboratories and teaching facilities, the Western Hemisphere. s largest natural history library, and the Hayden Planetarium.
Natural history museum exhibiting cultures of the world.
The American Museum of Natural History was founded in 1869 and given its present site on Central Park west at 79th Street one year later. The Museum's first building towered over what was still an isolated rural area.
As New York City grew, so did the Museum, and today its more than 1.2 million square feet, in 23 interconnected buildings, are an integral part of Manhattan's bustling Upper West Side.
The Museum is one of the world's preeminent scientific and educational institutions. A scientifie staff of more than 200 carries out ongoing research in anthropology, biology, mineralogy, molecular systematics, and paleontology.
Museum scientists also conduct some 100 field expeditions each year, such these two particularly outstanding projects:
Building on the unique resources of the Museum its scientists, its exhibitions, and its collections the Department of Education develops programs and materials to encourage audiences of all ages and interests to explore the wonders and complexities of human culture and the natural world.
Efforts focus on maximizing the engagement and learning of on-site visitors, serving as a resource for New York City schools and communities, and, increasingly, actively contributing to national efforts to promote public understanding of science.
copyright D. Finnin, AMNH
Science at the Museum
Since its founding, Museum scientists have sought to identify and describe the earth and its life forms and to explore human culture. Today, the American Museum of Natural History is the research center for more than 200 of the country. s most innovative scientists. The Museum. s numerous scientific departments include Anthropology, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Entomology, Herpetology and Ichthyology, Invertebrates, Mammalogy, Ornithology, and Vertebrate Paleontology. In the Museum. s two state-of-the-art Molecular Biology Laboratories, scientists analyze the DNA sequences of living and extinct creatures to gain new insights into the development and relationships of species. The newly established Center for Biodiversity and Conservation was created in 1993 to further international efforts to study, protect, and sustain the biological resources of the planet.
Since 1887 the Museum has sponsored thousands of expeditions, sending scientists and explorers to every continent. Currently, more than 100 field projects are conducted each year, including ongoing research in Chile, China, Cuba, French Guiana, Madagascar, Mongolia, and New Guinea.
The Museum is at the forefront of efforts to discover the myriad species that inhabit this planet and to understand the history of life, an initiative of profound importance today in light of major worldwide losses of plant and animal species. Through their work, Museum scientists are retracing the evolutionary tree, documenting changes in the environment, and describing the achievements of human culture -- affecting the public. s understanding of where we come from and where we may be headed.
copyright D. Finnin, AMNH
World-renowned and loved by children and adults alike, the Museum is home to more dinosaurs, birds, spiders, fossil mammals, and whale skeletons than any other museurn in the world.
Our most popular exhibits include:
Other permanent halls include
copyright D. Finnin, AMNH
Cultural history is explored through artifacts and artworks in the Hall of African Peoples, the Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples, the Gardner D. Stout Hall of Asian Peoples, the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians, and the Hall of South American Peoples, among others.
Larger-than-life IMAX films exploring phenomena of the natural world are shown daily on the four-story-high and 66 feet wide movie screen of the IMAX Theater.
Collections & Exhibitions
The natural history of our planet and its species is revealed in more than forty exhibition halls. Subjects explored range from dinosaurs, to gems and minerals, to life in the sea, to the cultures of the seven continents and into space.
The Frederick Phineas & Sandra Priest Rose Center for Earth and Space, a 333,500 square-foot, seven-floor, 120-foot-high exhibition and research facility opening to the public on Saturday, February 19, 2000, is the most ambitious endeavor undertaken in the 130-year history of the American Museum of Natural History. This $210 million project that explores the themes of time, distance, size, and the origins of the universe, includes a spectacular new Hayden Planetarium, the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Hall of the Universe, and the above mentioned David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth, as well as additional exhibition, research, and education space.
The dazzling centerpiece of the Rose Center for Earth and Space, which is transforming the entire north side of the Museum on West 81st Street, is an 87-foot sphere that appears, from the outside, to float within a 95-foot-high glass-walled cube. This magnificent structure is certain to become a celebrated architectural icon of the New York skyline.
The Great Sphere houses the new Hayden Planetarium. The top half contains a Space Theater, where cutting-edge visualization tools bring audiences spectacular, three-dimensional astronomical imagery that is both breathtaking and scientifically accurate. The level of technology and scientific content used to present the virtual universe has never been available to the public before. With its high-definition system, the totally rebuilt and rejuvenated Hayden Planetarium is the largest and most powerful virtual reality simulator in the world.
The first show in the Space Theater is Passport to the Universe, an exhilarating, continuously accelerating flight through a virtual re-creation of our universe with two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks as narrator. Visitors will marvel at hyperrealistic views of planets and star fields; they will fly by Jupiter and its moons, directly beneath Saturn and its enormous rings, through our neighborhood of stars in our Milky Way, into the Orion Nebula, out of our Galaxy and into deep intergalactic space, and back to Earth through a black hole. Along the way, Tom Hanks poses provocative questions about our place in the universe, explains cosmic wonders, such as how new solar systems are born in the Orion Nebula, and guides us through the three-dimensional structure of the universe.
The Space Show is based on actual astronomical observations and computer models of our galaxy from NASA, including the Hubble Space Telescope; the European Space Agency; and a statistical database of more than two billion stars developed by the Museum, among other collaborators. The National Center for Supercomputing Applications and the San Diego Supercomputing Center contributed significant computing and visualization support.
Space Theater technologies include a customized one-of-a-kind Zeiss Star Projector (Mark IX), the most advanced in the world, and a Digital Dome System, capable of flying audiences through a scientifically accurate re-creation of our Milky Way Galaxy and beyond, that utilizes a powerful Silicon Graphics Onyx2"! InfiniteReality2"! supercomputer and Trimension. s display and integration technology. The unique system also has the ability to combine real-time visual simulations with pre-rendered graphics, high-resolution video, and on-line news of current science events, making it a state-of-the-art educational tool.
The bottom half of the Great Sphere houses the Big Bang Theater, where dramatically narrated visual and audio effects simulate how the universe began, drawing visitors back in time toward the first moments of the cosmos. The Theater, a 46-foot in diameter space, contains a central 36-foot in diameter screen over an 8-foot deep bowl that visitors gather around, standing atop plexiglass flooring that crops out over the bowl. The show utilizes a laser, dozens of lighting effects, a LED display, narration, and surround sound to immerse visitors in the imagery and energy of the early universe.
Exiting the Great Sphere, visitors walk along the Harriet and Robert Heilbrunn Cosmic Pathway, a dramatic, spiraling walkway the length of a football field that ushers them through 13 billion years of cosmic evolution. To illustrate the development of the universe, 220 astronomical images are on view with the cosmic . redshift. formula, a measurement which shows the distance and age of the objects shown. Approximately 75 million years pass with each step, and at each landing on the pathway, computer interactives help visitors visualize how large the universe was at that point in time. Artifacts are also on display, including pre-solar grains extracted from a meteorite and dated to before the formation of the solar system. At the end of the pathway, which circles the Great Sphere one and one half times, the thickness of a human hair illustrates the relative length of time humans have been a part of cosmic history.
The 8,830-square-foot Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth (HoPE), which opened on June 12, 1999, focuses on how the Earth works and its geologic history. Built around rock samples and models gathered from around the world, together with state-of-the-art computer and video displays, HoPE investigates major questions about Earth. s existence and its dynamic processes. The Hall features a stunning collection of 168 samples and 11 full-scale models from such locales as Mt. Vesuvius, the Grand Canyon, and the Swiss Alps. Towering sulfide chimneys from the Pacific Ocean floor and a replica of a 115,000-year-old ice-core sample from Greenland are some of the rare specimens found in the Hall. Satellite images projected from within a suspended eight-foot-in-diameter Dynamic Earth Globe create an entrancing view of the planet as seen from outer space. The electronic Earth Event Wall broadcasts in-depth reports of global events such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and atmospheric conditions, as they occur. Touch-screen computer kiosks, located at the base of the Wall, supply further information.
The Museum, widely acknowledged to have the most comprehensive and scientifically important collection of dinosaurs and fossil vertebrates in the world, created six new halls to trace the history of vertebrate life. The first two, the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing of Mammals and Their Extinct Relatives, which opened to the public in 1994, display the most important array of fossil mammals ever assembled. The new dinosaur halls, unveiled in June 1995, represent the second phase in this project. These halls feature nearly 100 specimens, including the Museum. s most famous dinosaurs fossils, Tyrannosaurus rex and Apatosaurus, remounted to reflect current scientific thinking. The project was completed in 1996 with the opening of the Hall of Vertebrate Origins and the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Orientation Center.
The Hall of Biodiversity, which opened on May 30, 1998, is devoted to the most pressing environmental issue of our time preserving the variety and interdependence of Earth's living things, and its critical importance to human survival.
Exhibits in the Hall reflect the two faces of biodiversity: ecological and evolutionary biodiversity. Ecological biodiversity is illustrated by a new form of diorama and by a dramatic global tour of nine distinct biomes. The diorama one of the largest museum dioramas in the world re-creates in meticulous detail a portion of the rainforest of the Central African Republic. Expanding on the Museum. s magnificent legacy of re-creations of place, the diorama employs high-resolution imagery, video, and sound to create a life-like environment in which animals appear to move through the forest and lighting effects simulate the forest ambiance at different times of day.
The American Museum of Natural History has a web site, as part of its ongoing effort to expand its educational reach and bring its vast resources to the widest possible public. The Museum's Web site contains a wide range of material, from general information on the Museum and its programs to detailed information on exhibitions, scientific research, and educational programming.
The Museum's home page includes a brief introduction to its eight scientific departments. From here, visitors can move in any direction, according to their individual interests.
Visitors who choose to go to "Exhibitions" will find themselves at the core of the site. At launch, this area includes interactive tours of the Museum's new fossil halls and of two current exhibitions, Amber: Window to the Past, and Expedition: Treasures, a self-guided tour through fifty of the greatest treasures in the Museum's vast permanent collections.
The "Education" section provides an overview of educational offerings at the Museum. This section will soon include a science "I.Q." quiz ("Sci-Q"), a teachers' guide to Expedition: Treasures, and a range of other resources and activities for teachers, other adults, and children.
"Research" includes an overview of the Museum's Scanning Electron Microscope facility -- including a simulation of the increasing magnification of a butterfly wing; its Center for Biodiversity and Conservation; and its Library, including telnet access to the NIMIDI On-Line Public Access Catalog.
The section titled "About the Museum" includes information about hours, admissions, permanent-exhibition halls, and membership, among other items of general interest. The Museum Shops are featured with a range of gifts and educational products, which users can purchase via fax-order.
You can become a member of this prestigious organization and help support an American institution that has been educating the public for more than 125 years.
SundayThursday, 10:00 a.m.5:45 p.m.; Friday and Saturday to 8:45 p.m.
The Museum is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas days.
Space Show Hours
Space Shows will run throughout the day Sunday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Beginning on opening day of the Rose Center for Earth and Space on Saturday, February 19, suggested admission to the American Museum of Natural History, including the Rose Center for Earth and Space, is $10 for adults, $7.50 for students and seniors, and $6 for children.
Admission to the Museum, the Rose Center for Earth and Space, and the new Hayden Planetarium Space Show, is $19 for adults, $14 for seniors and students, and $11.50 for children.
Advance Tickets for the Hayden Planetarium Space Show are available by phone at 212-769-5200, Monday Friday, 8 a.m. 6 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. 6 p.m., or over the Internet by visiting www.amnh.org.
For additional information, the public may call 212-769-5100. For ticket reservations, the public may call 212-769-5200. On the Internet: www.amnh.org.
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