Friday, January 9, 2009

History Lesson

The American Museum of Natural History, located at Central Park West at 79th Street and founded in 1869, is a great place to teach kids about the different components of the universe. We found our experience here a bit mixed - it was so crowded that we were stuck in a painfully long line, which is really stressful when the museum closes at 5:45 pm and causes you to rush through the exhibits. We entered and exited the museum through the Rose Center, mainly because that's where our subway stop was and it was too cold to look for the Museum's main entrance. The Rose Center (120-foot-high, 333,500-square -foot facility) is a center for scientific research and houses the Hayden Planetarium.

This should have been where we purchased our tickets - the Museum's main entrance lobby - the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda (the home to the world's tallest freestanding mount of a dinosaur).

Since we went on New Year's day, we were happily able to catch the final day of the impressive Origami Holiday Tree. We would have loved this in our home.

The Museum is home to the world's largest collection of vertebrate fossils. The Dinosaur Halls are the most popular (and crowded) areas of the Museum, especially with the kids. Seeing their faces in complete awe and amazement is an experience in itself.

The Hall of Human Origins was fascinating; its the only major exhibit in the country to present a thorough investigation of the human evolution. The Hall of Minerals and Gems was also cool (and very popular with the women), yet we somehow managed to miss the Star of India. Some of the things we would have liked to see, like the butterfly conservatory, were only accessible to people who paid the extra entrance cost (we only paid the basic fee, which we felt was already pretty expensive). And some of the museums, like the animal halls with stuffed animals were just creepy and boring to us (but again, perfect for kids).

We were excited with the prospect of skating at the Museum's The Polar Rink. When we got there right after the Museum closed, we could not believe there was no line and no crowd. We were glad we decided to check it out first before paying the $10 to "ice skate." When we went outside, we noticed something strange - people weren't really ice skating, they looked like they were just walking instead of gliding. And we noticed a distinct stinky smell - a mixture of cardboard and dog poo. The reason people were having so much difficulty "skating' on this odd rink was that the rink is composed of recyclable synthetic surface. Skating on ice is hard enough but skating on cardboard material? It was one of the weirdest things we've seen in New York City. It's such a shame because it would have been a really beautiful and unique location to ice skate if only it were actually ice.