Our Spring Break Trip to the American Museum of Natural History

The kids were off this week Monday – Thursday for Spring Break. Not Friday, however. One too many snow days, you know. My wife stayed home with them this week, and I elected to take a day off and organize a visit to the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Certainly one of our favorite museums — so much to see and in our favorite city.

Since it’s such a large museum, I decided to focus the trip on new exhibits and shows. I wanted us to get there at exactly the museum opening time, but we were late to leave the house. We were able to grab some breakfast from Dunkin’ Donuts to eat on the train, purchase tickets, and catch the 9:32 AM train. By the time we got to 81st St via the C train, the ticket line at the Roosevelt Hall entrance was out the door, down the stairs, and a long way down the sidewalk. Easily an hour.

I had an inspiration – did the tourists know there was an entrance at the Rose Center? Initially, we walked nonchalantly, but then I heard someone mention it also. Dammit, they were on to us! I told the kids to walk faster. After waiting on the wrong ticket line, we eventually got into the museum itself. It was now 12:05 PM, and we had 25 minutes until the first timed exhibit window, so we hit the lower level restrooms, and scarfed down an overpriced lunch at the Food Court.

We went for the SuperSaver admission this time around. General museum admission, plus two special exhibits and two shows/movies.

1. Nature’s Fury – This is a new exhibit about natural disasters like tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, and climate change. Really nice, but I wish we could have spent more time to fully delve into it.

2. Dark Science – This is a new show at the Hayden Planetarium about space, dark matter, the universe, etc. Narrated by Neil Degrasse Tyson, it was pretty okay. Lots of nice visuals, but basically only skimmed the surface of the topic, and then it was over. Lot of chatty infants and schoolchildren, so that was distracting.

3. Tiny Giants – This is either a 2D or 3D film (your choice) shown in the Lefrak IMAX theater. Produced by the BBC, the film splits its time showing what life is like for small animals in a large world, following both a northern woods chipmunk and a Sonoran Desert grasshopper mouse. We watched this in 3D, and I thought it was excellent. The 3D was well done, both main characters were furry and as cute as can be, and very entertaining. Highly recommend it.

4. Life at the Limits – A new exhibit about animals that utilize some amazing adaptations in order to survive and thrive in sometimes extreme environments. This exhibit had a lot a lot of information, but not a lot that I personally didn’t know already. This was less about activities and more videos and information displays. There were two stations featuring Xbox Kinect where kids could interact with computer animals, but I didn’t really see a connection between this and the exhibit. The kids liked to do it anyway, so I’m not complaining.

We didn’t have much time for anything else besides quick breezing through other halls. Next time, we’ll spend more time deep diving. We picked up some souvenirs, left the planetarium after 5 PM, picked up snacks at NY Penn, and caught the 6 PM train. After a quick pit stop at the library, we were home after 8:30 PM. Long day, but successful.

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