American Museum of Natural History
By Anna Lynn Sibal
Most people who visit the City of New York, especially those with a passion for going to museums, would not consider their holiday to the city without stopping by the American Museum of Natural History. Located on Manhattan Square just across Central Park on the Upper West Side, the American Museum of Natural History is one of the most popular cultural centers of New York City, entertaining millions of visitors every year. It is also one of the leading institutions dedicated towards the advancement of human knowledge in the study of the natural sciences.
The American Museum of Natural History, or AMNH, was created in 1869 through a charter granted by the government of the State of New York. This charter makes it part of the University of the State of New York; not only is it involved in museum exhibition and education, the AMNH is also deep into research in anthropology and the natural sciences. It sponsors around 100 special field expeditions annually and has supported the studies of numerous anthropologists, naturalists and scientists since its beginnings more than a hundred years ago.
The AMNH houses 45 permanent exhibition halls and numerous seasonal exhibitions in its complex of 25 interconnected buildings, with a total area of 1.6 million square feet of floor space. Among the notable permanent exhibits of the AMNH are:
The Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. In the Milstein Hall of Ocean is where a visitor will find the famous 84-foot model of the blue whale that is one of the most recognizable icons of the museum. Also featured here are various dioramas depicting the ocean ecosystems in many different parts of the world.
The Hall of Biodiversity. The Hall of Biodiversity is the first and only exhibit of its kind, created to put emphasis on the pressing need to preserve the biodiversity of the planet. Its main features are the 90-feet-long diorama of the Dzanga-Sangha rainforest, thought to be the most biodiversity-rich ecosystem in the planet, as well as the 100-foot-long Spectrum of Life.
The Rose Center for Earth and Space. Considered as one of the most exciting and ambitious of all the projects undertaken by the AMNH, the Rose Center for Earth and Space leads its visitors into a comprehensive look at the history of the universe and the composition of the cosmos through state-of-the-art technological displays.
The Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems and the Guggenheim Hall of Minerals. The Hall of Gems and the Hall of Minerals are showcases of minerals and stones that are grouped according to their characteristics and similarities. Here the visitor can find the Star of India, a 563-carat star sapphire that is the largest and most unusual of its kind ever found, as well as the Patricia Emerald, a rare, 632-carat gem that has been preserved uncut.
The Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs. The Hall of the Saurischian Dinosaurs is where a visitor can find its display of the enormous and terrifying Tyrannosaurus rex and Apatosaurus. The collection of dinosaur fossils housed in the AMNH total more than 100 specimens, the single largest ever in the entire world.
The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall. This hall is a dedication to the former president of the United States who was among the first of the leading figures to promote the conservation movement. Theodore Rooseveltís involvement with the AMNH began in his childhood, as his father was among the museumís founders and the original charter was signed at his home.
The AMNH is a vast complex; the visitor who will try to explore all its halls in one visit will end up overwhelmed. The best way to appreciate the features of the AMNH is to join its hourly highlights tour, then devote another visit or two to leisurely see the museumís features.
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