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American Museum of Natural History Tickets

Updated: October 20, 2023

This post covers tickets, discounts, free entry, and planning tips for the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH).

We also provide information about the exhibits, both permanent and temporary. 

As local NYC tour guides, we know a few tips and tricks for visiting AMNH

And, in the video below, Katherine, a tour guide with us, Free Tours by Foot, explains all this to you.

In addition to our local knowledge, we also incorporated the input of members of our popular NYC Travel Tips Facebook group into this post.

Is the American Museum of Natural History Worth It

Our group consists of locals, like us guides, expats, regular visitors to NYC, as well as newbies to the city.

Now, without further ado, to the post.


The American Museum of Natural History has a suggested admission price but only for residents of NY, CT, and NJ. Read more below in the discount section.

If you purchase your tickets online, these are the prices you can expect to pay whether you are a resident or not.

It’s important to note that purchasing your tickets ahead of time will allow you to skip the ticket line, which in the high season can take 1 hour or more.

Entry to the museum is a 'timed entry', which means you must choose a date and time slot when you purchase your tickets.

General Admission

  • $28 Adults
  • $22 Students (with ID)
  • $22 Seniors (60+)
  • $16 Children (3-12)
  • Children 2 and under are free

Purchase tickets or learn more.

This standard ticket includes access to all 45 halls of the museum as well as the Rose Center for Earth and Space and the Gilder Center.

You will have to pay extra for admission to special exhibits.

There are 2 ongoing exhibits. Other exhibits change and they last between several months up to 2 years.

There are three types of add-ons you can get, which are all explained in our exhibitions section.

  • Special Exhibitions (typically two of them at the same time)
  • Giant-Screen IMAX Films (topic changes every few months)
  • Hayden Planetarium Space Show

If you want to enjoy any of these activities, the following ticket options are available for all add-on options.

General Admission + 1 Add-on

  • $34 Adults
  • $27 Students & Seniors (60+)
  • $20 Children (3-12)
  • Children 2 and under are free

Purchase tickets or learn more.

General Admission + All Add-ons

  • $39 Adults
  • $31 Students & Seniors
  • $24 Children (3-12)
  • Children 2 and under are free

Purchase tickets or learn more.


One of the best ways to save money on tickets for the American Museum of Natural History is to simply purchase admission from the ticket counter at the museum.


For residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut who display ID, the museum has a suggested price for general admission, so you can actually pay as little as $1 when you visit.

Often this is referred to as free admission because, in theory, you can even just walk in without paying anything.

pay what you wish american museum of natural history

The only drawback to taking advantage of their pay-what-you-wish tickets is that this option is not available via tickets purchased online.

This means you might have to wait in an occasionally long ticket line to get it. Some visitors report waiting for 45 minutes or longer just to get into the museum this way.

We offer some tips on how to avoid this long line in our planning section below.

If you purchase tickets ahead of time, you can head straight to the will-call kiosk and save yourself the wait in line.

Be sure to read our post on other free museums in NYC.

2 - Tourist Attraction Discount Passes

You can also skip these ticket lines by using a tourist pass.

Tourist passes typically bundle several attractions and tours into one price that can save you anywhere between 15-50%, depending on the pass.

Here are just a handful of the best attractions you can visit at no extra cost with the use of a tourist pass:

  • Madame Tussauds
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  • Whitney Museum of American Art
  • New York Botanical Garden
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Guggenheim Museum
  • Empire State Building
  • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
  • And more!

The following services include tickets to the American Museum of Natural History.

While most of these tourist passes only offer general admission to AMNH, the CityPass also includes one add-on for free.

If you want to enjoy a special exhibition, a giant-screen film or a space show, consider getting this pass to save money on tickets.

3 - Discount Ticket Websites

In addition to these options, you might also want to check Groupon or LivingSocial to see if they are offering any discounts on tickets for the American Museum of Natural History.

4 - 10% Off at CitySights

Save 10% when you purchase with the coupon code SAVE10 to save 10% on General Admission from CitySightsNY.

5 - Military Discounts

Free for all active-duty members of the U.S. Military. (Be sure to confirm this with the museum as this is not a posted policy).

Additionally, the American Museum of Natural History is a Blue Star Museum, which means that all active-duty members of the military and their families can get in for free during the summer.

This program is good for the military ID holder and up to 5 family members

For more ideas on saving money in the Big Apple, be sure to read about:


This section will provide several details to help you prepare for a trip to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH).

We will include information about how to get here, the best times to visit, how much time to devote, and more.

How to Get Here

The American Museum of Natural History is located across the street from Central Park, on Central Park West between West 77th Street and West 81st Street.

There are three entrances. One is at Central Park West (upstairs) at 79th Street.

The other two, both accessible entrances, are at the Rose Center for Earth and Space (at Central Park West/W. 81st Street) and the Gilder Center (or Columbus Ave. at 79th Street).

There are several different ways to get to the museum, but we’ll cover a couple of the easier options below.

Location of American Museum of Natural History


There is a subway stop right in front of the museum at the corner of Central Park West and W 81st St. This is going to be one of the easiest ways to get here.

We have created two articles to help those unfamiliar with the NYC subway.


The M10 bus makes a stop right next to the museum.

In addition to this option, each of the hop-on-hop-off bus tours in New York City also provides a stop right next to the museum.

Best Times to Visit

The American Museum of Natural History is almost always somewhat busy, but there are some times when crowds are a bit smaller than usual.


  • 10 am - 5:45 pm
  • Open Daily
  • Closed for Thanksgiving & Christmas
Popular times on Wednesdays

As with most attractions in New York City, the American Museum of Natural History is most popular during the middle of the day from about 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm (15:00).

If you want to avoid large crowds, consider coming either early in the morning at 10 am or later in the day after 3 pm.

It’s also important to note that the museum is even busier than usual during weekends.

Make sure to visit on a weekday for the quietest experience.

Popular times on Saturdays

If you decide to purchase your tickets on-site, you could end up waiting an hour or longer just to get inside the museum.

Purchasing tickets online or through another service can get you in much faster, saving you a lot of time.

Make sure to check both our tickets and discount sections for more details.

What to Expect

At roughly 4 city blocks wide, it’s safe to say that the American Museum of Natural History is very large and there is a lot to see inside its halls.

We’ll cover some of the more significant sites in our tours and exhibits sections, but suffice it to say that it will take most people quite a bit of time to see everything they have to offer.

Most people will spend at least 3 ½ hours wandering around the museum, so you should plan on being there for a while.

If you decide to focus on a few specific exhibits or subjects, it might not take as much time.


There are a few different tour options you might want to consider. All tours are free with admission.

There are both public and self-guided tours available depending on when you arrive and how you prefer to tour the museum.

Free Public Tours

The museum offers free tours led by museum staff. Tour availability varies from day to day.

You can view the day’s schedule and sign up for a tour at the information desk in the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall on the 1st Floor.

Self-Guided Tours

If you’re not interested in joining a group for a public tour, you can always guide yourself around the museum.

The following self-guided tours are free to use at any time.

Dino Tour

This tour covers all of the major dinosaur exhibits in the American Museum of Natural History.

You’ll learn more about the following fossils:

  • Tyrannosaurus Rex
  • Stegosaurus
  • Triceratops
  • Apatosaurus
  • Titanosaur
  • And more

Read the self-guided Dino Tour or download the Explorer app to get even more out of this experience.

Earth and Space Tour

This tour features several notable exhibits focused on both geology and astronomy.

You’ll visit the following locations:

  • Scales of the Universe
  • Ecosystem Sphere
  • Monitoring Earthquakes
  • Banded Iron Information
  • Harriet and Robert Heilbrunn Cosmic Pathway

Read the self-guided Earth and Space Tour or download the Explorer app to get even more out of this experience.

Highlights Tour

This tour will take you to some of the most popular exhibits in the museum.

Rather than focusing on just one or two halls, this will take you all over AMNH to see these exhibitions:

  • Blue Whale
  • Giant Sequoia
  • Easter Island Head
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex
  • Titanosaur
  • And more

Read the self-guided Highlights Tour or download the Explorer app to get even more out of this experience.

Night at the Museum Tour

As the name implies, this tour is focused on locations featured in the film Night at the Museum.

You can expect to see these exhibits:

  • Easter Island Head
  • Capuchin Monkey
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex
  • American Bison
  • Alaskan Moose
  • African Elephants
  • And more

Read the self-guided Night at the Museum Tour or download the Explorer app to get even more out of this experience.

If this sounds like fun, you might also want to consider taking part in their Night at the Museum sleepover event.


With 45 different halls to explore on 4 separate floors, there is a lot to see and do at the American Museum of Natural History – and that doesn’t even cover all of the add-ons you can enjoy!

Each hall contains multiple exhibits to experience.

This section will cover some of the more interesting permanent exhibits you can see at AMNH.

But, keep in mind that the information included here barely scratches the surface of everything offered at this museum with General Admission.

There are also special exhibits (add-ons) available for visitors who want to learn more about specific subjects and experience more hands-on displays.

You can enjoy one of these special exhibits as a free add-on with the New York CityPass.

The Titanosaur

This is the fossil of one of the largest dinosaurs that ever lived.

At 122 feet in length, the Titanosaur towers over everything and everyone in the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Orientation Center.

This cast is so large that it barely fits in the hall and actually extends out toward the elevator banks, welcoming visitors to the 4th floor in style.

The Blue Whale

Located in the Irma and Paul Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, this 94-foot long, 21,000-point model of a blue whale hangs over the entire room and commands the attention of all visitors.

This model was based on a whale found in 1925, and it’s a pretty accurate representation of the actual animal – which is the largest mammal alive on the planet today!

Butterfly of Peace

In the Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, be dazzled by a suite of 240 diamonds displayed in the shape of a butterfly.

The gems weigh a total of 167 carats and are arranged in this symmetrical pattern organized by similar cuts and colors.

The Mammoth

If you head to the Hall of Advanced Mammals, make sure to check out their incredible Mammoth fossil.

At the base of this exhibit, you will find the mummified remains of a baby woolly mammoth that was found in an Alaskan gold mine in 1948.

Despite dying over 21,000 years ago, its remains were preserved in the frozen ground.

The Willamette Meteorite

Be sure to visit the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Hall of the Universe on the lower level of the Rose Center for Earth and Space.

Here you will see the largest meteorite that has been discovered in the United States, and it’s the sixth largest ever found in the world.

Most meteorites are very small because they break up while entering the Earth’s atmosphere, but this is a rare example of one that remained quite large even after hitting the surface of the planet.

This is also one of only 600 or so iron meteorites that have been found on Earth. Oh, and for those who might be wondering, it’s pronounced will-am-ette.

Easter Island Head

Check out the Hall of Pacific Peoples to get a look at one of the famous statues of Easter Island.

Although this isn’t one of the actual mysterious sculptures, it is a model taken from a mold that was created during a museum expedition in 1934-1935.

As if that weren’t enough of a reason to check it out, this is also the same Easter Island head featured in the movie Night at the Museum!

Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation

On May 4, 2023, the highly anticipated Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation opened.

The 230,000-square-foot, six-story center cost $465 million to build and is a stunning and expansive addition to the museum. 

It houses almost 4 million scientific specimens and artifacts, which is about 12% of the museum’s entire collection.

The center's atrium is made from concrete that seemingly flows like designs found only in nature, like coral reefs or desert canyons.

Exhibits include the Davis Family Butterfly Vivarium, where museum guests can walk among hundreds of free-flying butterflies amidst a tropical setting. 

Also, there’s an insectarium with an 8,000-pound resin model of a beehive and more.

The Invisible Worlds exhibit is an amazing immersive video experience that focuses on natural processes that are too fast, too slow, or too small for the human eye to see.


The American Museum of Natural History hosts a lot of special events throughout the year.

Most of these activities are workshops or other programs designed to give visitors an even better learning experience.

However, there are also seasonal events that only happen during certain holidays.

This section will provide a few examples of the more interesting activities you can enjoy at AMNH when you come to visit.

Museum Sleepovers

*Currently suspended until further notice*

Before we get into the seasonal events, we should mention this especially popular activity that is available throughout the year.

In response to the popularity of the film series with the same name, the American Museum of Natural History has begun to offer a sleepover program for families to come and spend the night!

Spaces are limited and the price of admission is much higher than a regular ticket, but that’s to be expected with an opportunity this incredible.

This event can sell out for months at a time, so we recommend purchasing your ticket at least 90 days before you plan to visit.

  • $150/General Admission | $140/Members
  • $130/Groups of 15+
  • Hours: 6 pm - 9 am
  • Includes evening snack and light breakfast
  • Includes fossil fact-finding mission by flashlight
  • Includes one free movie in the LeFrak Theater
  • Includes access to special exhibitions
  • Includes cots for all guests to sleep on
  • Purchase tickets or learn more

If you’re looking for even more family-friendly fun, read our post about Things to Do with Kids in NYC for dozens of different ideas.

Visitors who are looking for alternative activities after dark should read our post about Things to Do at Night in NYC.

Romance Under the Stars (February)

If you’re looking for something fun to do with your significant other on Valentine’s Day, it’s hard to beat a visit to the Hayden Planetarium.

This event includes an open bar, hors-d'oeuvres, chocolates, and music.

After you’ve had your fill, head in, and enjoy an incredible view of the stars while your host describes some of the more interesting romantic tales tied to the night sky.

For more romantic ideas, make sure to check our post about Things to Do in NYC in February.

Experience Manhattanhenge (July)

Every July, an incredible event, known colloquially as Manhattanhenge, takes place as the sun sets in perfect alignment with the east-west numbered streets.

Join an astrophysicist at the Hayden Planetarium to learn more about this phenomenon and discover why it happens. The program ends just in time for you to experience the sunset.

If you’re looking for even more summertime fun, read our post on things to do in NYC in July.

Halloween Celebration (October)

Take the kids on a special trick-or-treating adventure at AMNH!

More than 30 of the 45 halls are open for this special event, and you can expect a lot of familiar faces such as Curious George, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Franny K. Stein, Little Critters, and more to show up as well.

There will also be stilt walkers and balloon artists on hand to make things even more fun, as well as performances from local artists and magicians.

Are you looking for even more spooky fun? You’ll find plenty of ideas in our post about things to do in NYC in October.

Kwanzaa Festival (December)

This annual event celebrates African-American heritage in a variety of different ways.

Among other activities, there will be live performances by local musicians and dancers depicting Afro-Cuban traditions.

You can also visit a local artisan marketplace to get an even better sense of this fantastic culture.

Visitors who want to enjoy even more festivities during the holiday season should check our post about things to do in NYC in December.


In this section, we will provide a list of several popular activities you can enjoy with your children in New York City.

Each of these attractions is included on all three major NYC tourist passes.

  • Top of the Rock
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  • New York Botanical Garden
  • Radio City Music Hall Tour
  • Luna Park at Coney Island
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  • Madison Square Garden Tour
  • Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour
  • Circle Line Landmarks Cruise

Every pass also offers admission to several additional attractions that are great for kids. The following locations are included with specific tourist passes.

  • National Geographic Ocean Odyssey
  • Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
  • Yankee Stadium Tour
  • New York Aquarium
  • Gulliver’s Gate
  • Central Park Zoo
  • Bronx Zoo

If you want even more ideas for family-friendly activities, make sure to read our extensive post, Things to Do with Kids in New York City.

This post includes several free attractions and things you can do with your children after dark, as well as a full list of kid-friendly museums.

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About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo,, and more.
Updated: October 20th, 2023
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