The American Museum of Natural History is one of the best museums in the area for children. However, their extensive collection ensures that there is plenty for adults to enjoy as well. This museum is located on the Upper West Side on Central Park West between 77th and 81st Streets. The museum has a suggested admission of $22 per adult, $12.50 per child (ages 2-12), and seniors and students with ID $17, but visitors can pay any amount that they wish for general admission. Special attractions are an additional charge and do not have discounted prices. The museum is open every day 10am - 5:45pm except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
New visitors to the museum should make it a point to see the Hayden Planetarium, which is located in the Rose Center for Earth and Space. The planetarium hosts shows that detail cosmic events, such as the formation of stars and planets, as well as shows that describe the celestial bodies viewable from Earth. Some evenings the planetarium also hosts a laser light show, setting stunning visual images to popular music.
The museum also shows IMAX films throughout the day in the LeFrack Theater. These films encompass an array of scientific subjects, including the natural world and zoology. Films are shown on a 40-foot-wide, 66-foot-high screen that makes audience members feel that they are part of the movie.
The Butterfly Conservancy is open every winter, presenting a unique opportunity to see exotic butterflies up close. In this permanent exhibit, the museum has recreated a tropical rainforest complete with warm, humid air. Visitors can walk through this rainforest and interact with many types of butterflies. Children can feed fresh fruit to the butterflies while examining them with the museum's large magnifying glasses.
Those who are interested in animals can visit one of the only preserved dodo bird skeletons on display anywhere in the world. Though most of the museum's animal specimens can be seen in the habitat dioramas in the main halls, the dodo is located next to the museum's rainforest exhibit.