the american museum of natural history: also known as I can't hear you over the fact that DINOSAURS.
so the museum opens at 10, but we didn't get into the city until 10:30 because of taking off-peak trains (go on the weekend and avoid this problem) and then it's about a forty minute walk from penn station up to/beside central park. the walk is lovely - you go through times square and you can also detour through the park itself. the buildings in the area are beautiful, but then again, we're from the midwest, where tornadoes seem to knock down most of the old stuff eventually, I suppose. or maybe it's that thing where you always seem to ignore wherever you grew up. I know more about nyc than I've ever known about kansas city, which is probably disgraceful. oh well.
anyways, yes, you stand in an admissions line for maybe almost an hour and try not to give away the fact that you can understand most of what the family from spain is saying behind you. (you fail by laughing when the dad tells the kids that when they get to security they'll have to sacar toda la ropa.) general admission is, in fact, a suggested price, which means you can choose what you'll actually pay but guys don't be a toolbag, give something! they have some dinosaurs in the lobby so you can be entertained while you stand around.
my favorite room by far was the gallery of african mammal dioramas. they. were. stunning. so well done, so detailed, fantastic little plaques of information. very dark in there, which means pictures were difficult to take, but the ambiance is superb. there's a middle bit with a herd of elephants and they are so huge and majestic and we actually went back and sat by them for a bit later on.
if you like old dead stuff (which I do, a lot) then the whole fourth floor is the place for you. there's an amazing huge sequential layout of...well, natural history. some wild stuff in there! dinosaurs, synapsids, huge ancient rhinos? as always, stand real close by and look up and just fill it out with your imagination. you'll get a little freaked out, just thinking about that much animal.
they have a new titanosaur, which is kept in a very long, very dark room, and his head still pokes out the doorway because did I mention this thing is huge? it is of course named the titanosaur because the species finally went extinct when the last family of -saurs went down with the titanic - wait no. that's not it.
as far as the other rooms go, the north american mammals were also quite good, though the asian mammal dioramas left something to be desired? maybe it was just that the african mammals were so darn great. one of my favorite things was actually how much detail they gave on the environments and native plants that appeared in the dioramas. I feel like I never got that aspect emphasized in a zoo.
there's also a hall of ocean life, which was full of children, but very enjoyable. cute underwaterish dioramas, a giant blue whale hanging over everything, glowy simulations of phosphorescence... we walked through for about 2.5 or 3 hours, which doesn't sound that long, but it definitely felt longer (especially to our feet, hmm). there are lots of other rooms with creepy models of humans making crafts, and interesting factoids about neanderthal graves and whatnot, and old baskets and knives which are also nice to swing by.
if you like this sort of thing, I'll just leave you with one of my favorite youtube channels, the brain scoop, which I've watched since its nascence with much enjoyment. emily is now located at the fields museum, but I cling to the day when I tweeted her a picture of a bone I found and she replied(!) that it was a deer's thoracic vertebra. I know...name-dropping hipster, that's me. oh, and full disclosure, lots of blood and guts in some of those videos!
ha. on that note, I'll wrap up this post. I recommend the museum, dinosaurs, and old dead stuff in general. what do you like to do in nyc on a budget? tell me your favorite haunts in the comments below...