Wednesday, 30 September 2009

New York day 5: Museum of Natural History

After visiting the Dakota and the John Lennon memorial at Strawberry Fields, I walked north on Central Park West towards the American Museum of Natural History.


Astor Turret at the Museum of Natural History

It was an absolutely stunning day in New York and a welcome change from the rain that had drenched me the day before.


The Fourth Universalist Society and the New York Historical Society // The Astor Turret again

The American Natural History Museum


The lobby of the Natural History Museum

I think I might be spoiled by now!  I walked around the skeleton of a gigantic dinosaur and took a perfunctory photograph without really taking in the significance of it all.  This is a creature that roamed the Earth millions of years ago!!!  Next time I visit a Natural History Museum, I shan’t take it for granted!

In my defence, I was rushing off to see the exhibition on the North West Coast Indians.

North West Coast Indians

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I found this to be a fascinating exhibition.  Coming from South Africa and England, I had never had first hand experience of Native American culture before and it was wonderful to see such a wide variety of differences between the different groups.  I apologise for the shaky photography as the lighting was dim (for preservation purposes) in the hall and I was trying to take shots without a flash.

This is the museum’s oldest hall and contains material from the museum’s first major field exhibition, the Jesup North Pacific Exhibition between 1897 and 1902.  This is considered to be one of the most important anthropological field studies ever made, according to the website.

 

Unfortunately, the exhibition left me with more questions than answers! How did they obtain the goods?  Were they finds or where they taken from people?  How do Native American people feel about ceremonial or spiritual items being on display at the museum?  Are they happy to have a permanent record of their culture or do they want the items back?

Fearing reprisal from ancient Native American ancestral spirits, I made haste to the next exhibit!

The Warburg Hall of New York State Environment

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Section of giant sequoia tree

I loved this section! It was really interesting.  This is a section from a giant sequoia tree that began growing in 550AD and was felled in 1891.  Thank goodness it is illegal to cut them down these days!

North American Forests

I really, really love forests and was quite chuffed that half of the last Harry Potter book took place in them!  Couple that with my dream of driving across America on a road trip and it’s easy to see why I liked this exhibition.  I won’t bore you with hundreds of photos of the various exhibits but it was great in that it showed that every part of the country has different forests and terrain.


Giant Cactus Forest, Saguaro, Tucson, AZ // Piñon-Juniper Forest, Colorado

Hall of Biodiversity

I was late for a very important date and ran past the Hall of Bioversity.  I just had to take this photo though!  Look at that thing!

Hayden Planetarium

Wow.  How long is it since you’ve been to a planetarium?  It must be at least fifteen years since I’ve been to one before this and the whole universe has changed!  From worm holes to a new theory on how the moon was formed, the show at the Hayden Planetarium blew me away!

I love planetariums and I love space, stars, the universe – all of it!  I certainly won’t wait another fifteen years before I go to another one!!  After the show, I took a walk down the Heilbrunn Cosmic Pathway which shows you photographs dating back to the dawn of time.  You read right! Because of the distances involved and the time light takes to travel, telescopes have managed to capture images dating back billions of years!  Wow.  I may have looked a bit silly as I walked along the pathway with my mouth hanging open in amazement. (Yes, yes.  It has already been established that I’m a geek!)

That was it for the American Natural History Museum.  I went in using my CityPass and that gave me free entry into the Hayden Planetarium too which was a saving.  I would absolutely recommend visiting and would certainly go back again.  As it is, I saw maybe 25% of the whole place!!

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16 comments

  1. It looks like a fascinating place to visit. Is it much bigger than the Natural History Museum in London? I could easily spend an entire day exploring there!

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  2. Hi John! I am going to the London NHM on Monday so I will able to tell you then. Thanks for visiting!

    @ SA Expats: I agree - then again, I'd recommend the whole city of New York.

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  3. emm,
    ya did good.

    the AMNH is our first museum encounter, partly because of their suggested donation policy which allowed a poor kid from the lower east side entrance for a mere 25cents ("you must donate something");

    and partly because of its proximity to central park, which was prime destination on hookey days.

    given the sixe and huge collection of the place, you DID manage to cover a lot of territory (great shots!) and to give a swell overview of the museum.

    kudos to you!

    glad that you've enjoyed your visit,
    our town still has some flair
    despite the Disneyfication, ya think?

    thank you very much for
    a very enjoyable post.

    :-)

    ..
    .ero

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  4. we went there a number of years ago - we ended up having to rush through things a bit too - there is just so much to see! I love your pics - I forgot all about the sequoia.

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  5. I looove the Museum of Natural History! It's my second favorite, after the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Don't you love those dinosaurs? :)

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  6. I love museums! They were probably my favorite thing about London. Especially that they were free, so you didn't feel like you had to wear yourself out--just come back again later.

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  7. that's the one thing i forgot to do in the Big Apple...visit the musuem! I'm so jealous! :)

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  8. Hi Emm!
    I'm so jealous! Not of the Museum specifically, though I like it very much, but of being in NYC... ;))

    Blogtrotter is visiting Old Town Antalya in Turkey. Enjoy and have a glorious weekend!

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  9. Wow, great pictures. Sounds like you had a great time! I am looking forward to hearing more.
    Rhett Out

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  10. Wonderful photos! I feel like taking a visit to a museum now!

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  11. Aww, I am so jealous. I haven't been there in years. Where's my souvenir? lol

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  12. Oh boy, that's a fascinating dinosaurs. What's it's name? In Chicago we have Sue, and she is the largest tyrannosaurs ever unearthed.

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  13. @ John: Well, I went to the Natural History Museum in London but I still couldn't tell you which one is bigger. They are both massive!!! I think New York might be bigger but London is shinier and has greatly improved since I was there in 2005.

    @ Bare Eyed Sun: I LOVED your city and I didn't think it Disneyfied at all!! My visit didi make me appreciate the free museums and galleries in London though.

    @ Julia: I think rushing might be the best way to do it otherwise you get brain freeze!!!

    @ Lilian: I'm not sure which was my favourite actually! I'll make a decision if I ever finish posting about them all!! :)

    @ Furniture: Never mind making you skate, what made your parents name you Furniture??? I want to go back to New York in December 2010 to see the ice rink at the Rockerfeller Center. I did see St Patrick's Cathedral and I posted only one of my pics here.

    @ Kathy: Ha ha ha! I spent a couple of days with a South African friend this week going to various museums and sites. Unfortunately, your message did not sink in and we totally wore ourselves out!!!

    @ Mama Mia: You'll have to go back and see it next time!!!

    @ GMG: Heh. I totally understand that as I really wish I was back in New York now!

    @ Rhett: Hiya! Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Indeed, I had a fabulous time.

    @ Meg: I think you should and then I can read all about it in your blog!

    @ Lauren: ha ha! I'm not as sentimental as I used to be so I don't buy souvenirs at all! Except for a FDNY shirt for Ste - I have a thing for firemen or men in uniform!

    @ Nabeel: Oh dear... I was quite remiss when I visited the museum and totally under-appreciated the dinosaurs. I don't know what type it is but I promise I made it up when I went to the Natural History Museum in London!!

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  14. That section of the sequoia tree is really big, what a tree it must have been. Looks like a great museum!

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  15. @ Juka: It really was a good experience - I would certainly recommend it.

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