American Museum of Natural History Tickets and Discounts

This post covers tickets, discounts, and planning tips for the American Museum of Natural History, as well as information about the exhibits. The museum is 1 of the top 10 things to do with kids in NYC.

 

 


TICKETS

The American Museum of Natural History has a suggested admission price. This pay-what-you-wish option is only available on-site at the ticket counters. Make sure to read our discount section for more details on how to take advantage of this opportunity.

If you purchase your tickets online, these are the prices you can expect to pay. 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.

General Admission

  • $23/Adults | $18/Students & Seniors
  • $13/Children (2-12)

This standard ticket includes access to all 45 halls of the museum as well as the Rose Center for Earth and Space, but you will have to pay extra for add-ons.

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

  • Special Exhibitions
  • Giant-Screen IMAX Film
  • Space Shows at the Hayden Planetarium

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

  • $28/Adults | $22.50/Students & Seniors
  • $16.50/Children (2-12)

General Admission + All Add-ons

  • $33/Adults | $27/Students & Seniors
  • $20/Children (2-12)

Purchase tickets or learn more.

 


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DISCOUNTS

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.


1 – FREE OR PAY WHAT YOU WISH

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, which means you might have to wait in a 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.


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.

 

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, 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:

 


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PLAN YOUR VISIT

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, 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 and West 81st streets. There are several different ways to get there, but we’ll cover a couple of the easier options below.

 

Location of American Museum of Natural History

 

Subway

There is a subway stop right in front of the museum at the corner of Central Park West and W 81st Street. This is going to be one of the easiest ways to get here. We have created to articles to help those unfamiliar with the NYC subway.

Bus

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. If you’re planning to use one of these services anyways, consider using them to reach this attraction.


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. 

Hours

  • 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 pm – 3 pm. 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 during 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.

 


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TOURS

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. 


Public Tours

The following tours are fully guided by professionals who work for the museum. The main tour is only available at specific times of the day.

Spotlight tours focus on specific halls and themes, and their availability varies from day-to-day.

All tours begin at the entrance of the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals.

Museum Highlight Tour

This is their general tour and it is available multiple times per day. Learn more about the museum’s collections without paying a dime.

  • Timetable: 10:15 am | 11:15 am | 12:15 pm
  • More Times: 1:15 pm | 2:15 pm | 3:15 pm

Spotlight Tours

These tours highlight particular halls or themes, focusing either on a type of animal or a subject. Spotlight tours are typically offered during special events at the museum.

  • Times vary depending on availability
  • Ask any information desk for the schedule

Foreign Language Tours

The American Museum of Natural History also offers tours for visitors who speak foreign languages. These opportunities aren’t as frequent, but they are usually available at least a few days per month.

  • Dates vary depending on availability
    • Spanish Tours
      • Tour begins at 2:30 pm
    • Chinese Tours
      • Tour begins at 1:30 pm
    • French Tours
      • Tour begins at 1:30 pm
    • Hebrew Tours
      • Tour begins at 2:30 pm
  • There may be other languages available depending on when you choose to visit. Ask the information desk for more information.

All tours, dates and times are subject to change. 


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.

 


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EXHIBITS

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.  


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. Believe it or not, 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 Family 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!

 

 


The Mammoth

If you head to the 4th floor, 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

This is 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 third floor 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 which 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! 


The Great Canoe

Head to the Grand Gallery on the first floor to see this incredibly detailed canoe. This 63-foot long vessel was carved out of the trunk of a single cedar tree at some point in the 1870s. 

 

 

The designs featured on the canoe includes elements from more than one tribe in the Northwest. One of the more prominent images you will notice is that of an Orca on either side of the boat.


Special Exhibitions

In addition to their permanent exhibits, the American Museum of Natural History also frequently hosts several special exhibitions that you might want to see. These displays are only available for a limited time, and the museum will change them out every 1-2 years on average. You can enjoy one of these attractions as a free add-on with the New York CityPass.

Unseen Oceans

(through August 18th, 2019)

This exhibit focuses on previously unseen and undiscovered areas of the ocean. In addition to maps of the ocean floor, you’ll also have the opportunity to see some of the aquatic life that was found thanks to groundbreaking technology in satellite monitoring, robotics and more.

 

 

The Butterfly Conservatory

(through May 27th, 2019)

Every winter, this annual exhibit welcomes more than 500 free-flying butterflies to roam around an area full of tropical plants. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn all about the various different species and how they survive.

 

 

Dark Universe

(November 2nd, 2013 – December 31st, 2019)

At this exhibit, you’ll learn more about some of the pivotal discoveries that have given mankind greater insight into the universe. There are several notable scientific instruments on display as well as many beautiful scenes from deep space. This show takes place at the Hayden Planetarium.

 

Inside You

(through June 16, 2019)

Have you ever wondered exactly how your body works? Well, this exhibit will take you on a journey through the human body to learn about all of the bacteria, viruses, fungi and other organisms that make us what we are.

 

 

Backyard Wilderness

(through June 30th, 2019)

Did you know that there’s an incredible world to explore just in your backyard? This exhibit follows a young girl who goes on an adventure and discovers the natural wilderness that lies just beyond her back door.

 

 

T. rex: The Ultimate Predator

(March 11, 2019 through August 9, 2020)

You’ve heard of a Tyrannosaurus rex and seen what they look like. This 3rd-floor exhibit follows the evolution of the most well-known predator in the time of dinosaurs. You’ll learn about the T. rex family through models, fossils, and virtual reality.

 


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EVENTS

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 which 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.

Night at the Museum

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 on 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 for 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.

 


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THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS

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
  • LEGOLAND

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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