I am obsessed with my two and half year old nephew. I think he is the most gorgeous and genius person I know. Some days more than others depending on what adults cross my path. On a recent trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City even though he was not with me, I found myself anticipating what he would think. He loves the story of the “Three Little Pigs” and keeps asking his mother for a “big wolf”. After I left the museum the only words that came to my mind were “big dinosaurs”. That seemed appropriate enough.
My last visit to this museum if my memory serves, was probably sometime in high school. If it was that recent we are still talking about at least fifteen years ago. Some parts were vaguely familiar but on class trips there are limits to what you can see and do. I definitely did not see as much as I did now and I was especially excited to get to go to the Hayden Planetarium for the first time.
On the rainy Saturday I ventured out on this excursion I had no real idea what I was in for. No matter how many times I looked at the website I still only had that one mental picture of those two enormous dinosaurs in the main lobby. That was it. I also underestimated how big this museum is.
While there are plenty of “stuffed” animals to see they weren’t really what peaked my interest. I mean they are cool but after you have seen one dead, stuffed, cheetah or rhino you have seen them all. I did like the gigantic herd of elephants in the great hall though. You can look up at them on the first floor and then down at them from the second. It is quite impressive.
I was really there to see those dinosaurs. I never knew how excited I could be to see dinosaur skeletons strung together or just how many this museum had. There were floors of them and all new to me. I was just like a kid. I was there with my cousin and as we casually browsed and separated we would yell out to the other anxiously when we found something so absurd we had to share with the one another. Of course I was equally thrilled because I was in a place where flash photography was allowed. Ah, a perfect setting indeed!
It is amazing how long you can look at bones for and still not grasp that they are real. We even took a break at the café for a cup of joe. After about forty-five minutes or so we were revitalized to start up again. It was like a maze and very crowded but there was enough to see that you were not on top of anyone. That is very important. I love being able to walk through exhibits at my own pace too. No audio guides, not too much reading, just a simple explanation of what you are looking at, and then just staring up in awe. Sometimes that’s all you need.
No matter how long I looked or how many photos I snapped (and believe me I snapped a lot) I couldn’t capture the enormity of what I was seeing. It is such an amazing thing. Evolution and science are at their best when you can see it firsthand.
After admiring these wings the only thing I wanted to do was to see the big scale model of one Theodore Roosevelt, our former President. There is one of him on the outside of the museum and many of his quotes in the main lobby. Teddy, as I like to call him, was a great lover of nature and the animal kingdom. In face the first thing he did after leaving office was to go on an African safari. But I did not get to see his statue in his hall or rotunda as it was being remodeled. That figures.
My next move was to go to the Hayden Planetarium since I had now walked through almost every other floor and exhibit in the museum and was slowly loosing energy. The Planetarium is connected and adjoined to the museum so you never have to go outside until you are ready to leave. It had been my original plan to watch a film there but I was beat and it was getting too crowded. So instead we just walked around and checked out what was on display. After about thirty minutes there I was done and ready to go. It was a long afternoon and I was beat. There is just too much too tackle all at once but I think I did a very good job. There are constantly new displays sprouting up all the time so there is always incentive for a return trip.
Now I guess I will have to go back with my nephew to show him the big dinosaurs to see if he will be as impressed as I was.
For more information on the museum:
For more information on Teddy Roosevelt: