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The world's largest natural history museum was founded by Albert Bickmore in 1869. It opened in April of that year with "a few hundred mounted birds and mammals" on exhibition in the Arsenal building in Central Park. The collection soon outgrew its home and, in June 1874, President Ulysses S Grant laid the cornerstone of the present museum, which was opened in 1877 and has continued to grow to cover three blocks of the city.
The museum now boasts a formidable collection of dinosaur tableaux, painstakingly recreated from fossils which can be dated back over 150 million years. The Fossil Halls on the 4th Floor give the clearest possible insight into the evolution of birds and mammals from prehistoric times to the present.
More recent examples of animal life can be found in the Halls of African, Asian and North American Mammals, The Hall of Reptiles and Amphibians (with three Komodo Dragons) and the Hall of Ocean Life, which features a replica of a 94ft Blue Whale suspended from the ceiling.
The Hall of Minerals and Gems houses the legendary 'Star of India', the world's largest sapphire, which was donated to the museum by JP Morgan in 1901 and was briefly stolen in 1964. Along with the other jewels in this hall, this stone brings the value of the museum's gem collection to approximately $80 million.
There truly is something for everyone in this museum and the Hall of Human Biology and Evolution and the new, interactive Hall of Biodiversity should not be missed.
In February 2000, in conjunction with the adjoining Haden Planetarium, the Museum will open the ambitious new Rose Center for Earth and Space. Billed as "the most technologically advanced Space Theater in the world", the centrepiece of this 'cutting edge' exhibit is the "Big Bang Theater", which will recreate the first moments of our universe.
Address: Central Park West at 79th Street New York, NY 10024-5192
Tel: (212) 769 5100
Ticket Reservations: Tel: (212) 769 5200
10.00am-5.45pm Sunday - Thursday
10.00am-8.45pm Friday and Saturday
The museum is closed for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Admission charges: Adults $9.50 (Children $ 6.00 and Senior Citizens and Students $7.50).
Daily tours for small groups are included in the price of Museum admission. The ticket price will also include admission to the Rose Center for Earth and Space from February 2000.