Located in New York City’s Upper West Side, the American Museum of Natural History is a huge draw for individuals, couples, and families alike. Spread across 26 different buildings, visitors can spend a day or more exploring exhibits and features related to natural history and human culture.

The museum’s mission is “to discover, interpret, and disseminate – through scientific research and education – knowledge about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe”. That mission is carried out in over 2 million sq ft of space that includes not just static exhibits, but dynamic ones designed to engage all the senses.

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Highlights and features of the American Museum of Natural History

Housed in 26 buildings and covering 46 different exhibit halls, the American Museum of Natural History is the largest in the United States and one of the largest in the world. Construction on the museum began in 1874. It was expanded in 1930, and then again in 2017. 

The American Museum of Natural History is located in Theodore Roosevelt Park across the street from Central Park and contains not only a museum but a large library and a planetarium, too. Visitors can explore the environment, the impact of humanity on the planet, the need for conservation, the history of America’s Indigenous Peoples, and even the origin of humanity itself here.

A closer look at the American Museum of Natural History

You’ll find an incredible array of exhibits dedicated to everything from studying human history and culture to space science and everything in between. The museum offers several theaters, including the always-popular Hayden Planetarium Space Theater.

Adults and children will both enjoy the selection of touchable exhibits, as well as the touchscreen-enabled exhibits that offer additional interactivity. The Ross Hall of Meteorites is one of the most unique options here, but visitors also love the Discovery Room and the Scales of the Universe, as well as the Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth. If you have time, make sure to use one of the public educational laboratories to get more hands-on with science.

What's good to know about the American Museum of Natural History?

If you're a resident of New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, the museum offers a “pay-what-you-wish” admission policy that allows you to pay whatever amount you like for entry. For everyone else, there’s a separate admission price for general admission plus one special exhibit or general admission plus access to all exhibits.

The museum offers a coat check service for your convenience and also provides drinking fountains throughout the facility. You’ll find a food court and standalone cafés here, and there are multiple shops on offer, including the Planetarium Shop, the Cosmic Shop, the Dino Store, the Main Museum Shop, and exhibition shops as well.

Note that parking is available but at an additional fee. The parking garage is open from 6 am to 11 pm on weekdays and from 8 am to 11 pm on weekends. The museum’s members-only entrance is located on the first floor at Central Park West and 79th Street. General admission visitors can use the upstairs entrance at the same location, and there’s an accessible entrance located at 81st Street in the Rose Center for Earth and Space Hall.

The American Museum of Natural History in New York

Location: 200 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024, USA

Open: Wednesday–Sunday from 10 am to 5.30 pm (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

Phone: +1 212-769-5100

Valerie Mellema | Contributing Writer