Friday, October 24, 2008

City Guide Part 9

The American Museum of Natural History stands out among the
apartment buildings along Central Park West. The bold stone facade of
the building would look more in place at the National Mall in
Washington D.C. than here in a residential area of New York City.
Nevertheless, this museum is, in my opinion, one of the most worth
while places to visit in New York City.
From New York City

The main museum entrance, also
known as The Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda features a large skeleton of a
barosaurus. This prominent display is the tallest freestanding
dinosaur mount in the world.
From New York City

There are many other fossil displays
throughout the museum. Massive rooms are dedicated to the display of
fossils. In one of the rooms, I ran in to a group of high school
students who were all wearing t-shirts similar to the one I was
wearing. Scott took a photo, but the picture didn't turn out very

From New York City

A staple exhibit of Natural History Museums around the world is the
diorama. This museum is no exception. Dioramas are similar to zoo
exhibits, but unlike a zoo, nothing in the diorama needs to be fed or
watered - only dusted. They display pinnacle examples of the taxidermist
profession. Looking into these small dioramas is just like looking
onto a Congolese Jungle or a Mongolian desert. There are rooms with
dioramas featuring the environments of New York, of North American
forests, African mammals, birds of the world, mammals of North America
and many more.

The anthropological exhibits alone would have taken days to thoroughly
appreciate. Each display features the native peoples of each continent,
excluding Antarctica. Dad, Mom, Scott and I found certain exhibits
more interesting than others. Because of this, we decided to part ways
and take in this part of the museum at our own pace. Personally, I
found the exhibit hall of the South American Peoples and the Hall of
the Oceanic Peoples to be the most interesting exhibits. I had no idea
how bizarre these cultures were. I was blown away. Some of the weapons
that these cultures produced looked very painful. A 62 foot long
painted war canoe is on display in the Hall of Pacific Northwest
Peoples. It must have been a challenge to even get the canoe to
Manhattan; let alone find a way to place it inside the museum in one

Nestled in a small corner in the lower floor of the museum lies the
Halls of Gems, Meteorites and Minerals. The variety of natural objects
that come from the earth is astounding. The display holds tens of
thousands of unique
specimens from the earth and beyond. At the center of the Meteorite
room sits the ominous Cape York meteorite. This piece of iron is so
dense and heavy that it required its own foundation to be built into
the Manhattan schist below the museum. Again, I was amazed at how this
item came all the way from Greenland to the basement of this building.
The designs brought forth after meteorites are cut and polished are
stunning. One specimen that caught my interest was a stone that continually
deteriorates when exposed to light. The "photo-decay" is evidenced by
powdery yellow debris on the floor of the case, beneath the mount. A
large display of California gold
took up one corner of the Hall of Minerals. Most of the specimens,
including whole veins of gold, up to a foot in length, were mined in
the decades of 1850,60 and

I met up with Scott and then with Mom, and I found out that Dad was
waiting for us in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda. As we walked out of the
museum, Dad asked what we thought of the life-sized blue whale. I had
spent 4 hours in the museum and hadn't noticed one of its largest
display rooms - The Hall of Ocean Life. Scott, Mom and I walked back
into the museum in search of the hall. On the way, I found other parts
of the museum I hadn't yet seen. We finally arrived at the Ocean Life
Hall and I was glad we came back. The blue whale was suspended from
the ceiling, while two stories of dioramas featuring ocean life from
every part of the ocean lay below. One impressive diorama depicted a
battle between a giant squid and a sperm whale in the darkness of the
deep ocean floor. After quickly taking in all the displays, we
traveled back to Dad at the museum entrance. Back outside, we crossed
Central Park West, and entered the green forest of Central Park.


Continued in Part 10