A Journey Through the American Museum of Natural History

In the spirit of January I made resolutions for the New Year and revisited last year’s failures. The word failure is so dramatic, isn’t it? Well, I’m not here to get all Dear Abby on you, just to say that I reexamined the Bucket List from last summer and am proud to report that I have conquered the American Museum of Natural History for the the first time. Like Ben Stiller demonstrated before me, it was a well overdue New York adventure.

First, I feel I must explain why I haven’t gone to the AMNH before. One of my versions of hell involves mobs of screaming children. It has been my experience that children frequent museums involving science, space, history and sometimes art. Thus, I avoided the history museum like most people avoid Wal-Mart on Sundays—fear of total apocalypse. These preconceptions were briefly erased with the optimism of a new year, and during that fleeting window of time I made the conscious decision to venture out to the museum. And it rocked.

The monstrosity of the place is entirely overwhelming. There are exhibits on dinosaurs, planets, stars, the brain, butterflies, mammals in North America, mammals in Africa, space, etc. Some of the animal exhibits seem remarkably realistic. Among the squirrels and deers of North America was also a giant caribou… not shot by Sarah Palin!

We began our journey learning about stars and black holes. Let me tell you, black holes really do exist and there is a five minute video to tell you all about it. Also, if you’re making a weight-loss resolution there are various scales so you can see how much you weigh on other planets or stars. I recommend a red, giant star, because this is how much I weighed:

This museum adventure also led me to my new favorite word: zircon. Zircons are a mineral that is found on the crust of the Earth and used for radiometric dating. Zircons are special because they actually survive erosion and metamorphism so they reveal more about the history of whatever stuff it’s found in. Don’t you feel smarter now?

Lastly, we hit up the IMAX to see the special on the Hubble Space Station. Now, I must admit that I am an IMAX freak. I will probably see anything if you put it in an IMAX theater just because it looks cool. I will admit that the IMAX theater at AMNH is a little odd in that the seats aren’t graded as they should be (retrofit problem) and you will be craning your head upward for the entire show. Aside from that, the special on Hubble is pretty remarkable. It is narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, which only enhances the entire experience. Not only does the footage take you through a launch day, it shows unparalled images from Hubble itself. It’s basically a window into the other 100 billion galaxies (yes, that’s the number they used) of the world, and it’s really quite colorful.

In the end, the children weren’t terrible. The actually provided some pretty hilarious commentary on the dinosaurs. “Mom, when you were growing up did you have a T. Rex as a pet?” Who didn’t?

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