Today we’re going to take a virtual field trip to one of the biggest, most famous museums in the world – the American Museum of Natural History. Located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, it is one of New York City’s most popular tourist attractions. It’s easy to see why. Dinosaur and mammoth skeletons, breathtaking dioramas, anthropology collections, gems and minerals, the Hall of African Animals, the Hall of Ocean Life, the Hayden planetarium and the largest meteorite on display in the world. This museum has got it all! This is an online tour that all ages will enjoy. If you have an ounce of curiosity about the world you inhabit, you’re going to be a Museum of Natural History enthusiast. We’ve all heard about it. We’ve seen it in films. Now it’s time to get to know this remarkable museum a little bit better. Gather the entire family, charge up the computer, and prepare for a real treat – you’re about to get a virtual taste of the Museum of Natural History.
In 1877 the American Museum of Natural History opened to the public. From 1880 to 1930 the museum was involved with exploration around the world, including expeditions to the North Pole. The museum’s mission statement is: “To discover, interpret, and disseminate—through scientific research and education—knowledge about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe.” Some interesting facts about the American Museum of Natural History:
- It covers an area of several city blocks.
- It houses 42 permanent exhibions.
- It receives 4 million visitors per year.
- It has over 32 million specimens (more than can ever be displayed at one time).
- It employs a scientific staff of over 200 people.
- It still sponsors over 100 expeditions a year.
Online Photo Tour
The Internet contains numerous excellent images of the Museum of Natural History. Many are from the museum’s official Facebook page. Let’s start off our field trip with some of my favorite images of the museum from around the web.
- The Museum’s Exterior
- The 94 Foot Blue Whale Model
- The Tyrannosaurus Rex
- The Aztec Calendar
- The Mineral Collection
- The Hall of the Pacific Peoples
- The Allosaurus
Online Virtual Tours
Virtual Panoramas of the Museum of Natural History is a web page with links to four impressive 360 degree scenes including the Hall of African Mammals, the Hall of Dinosaurs, and two pictures of the massive Hall of Ocean Life. Click on whatever image you like to get a panoramic view of that picture. Once it comes up, click the first button on the image to get a striking full page view of the panorama. You can then use your mouse to move in whatever direction you want to see.
The Museum of Natural History’s official website provides some more online tours. Of particular interest are the dinosaur halls which contain the most extensive collection of real dinosaur fossils in the world. Although you can’t format these images to fill your monitor screen, you can use your Shift key to get close up views of anything you want to look at in the picture. And there are quite a few things worth looking at in these pictures…
The Official Website of the American Museum of Natural History
The Museum of Natural History’s website has some task! It is expected to reflect the scope of this larger-than-life New York legend. Happily, it does a fine job in establishing the museum’s online presence. The site presents a great deal of informative content. The well planned design assures that the user does not feel overwhelmed during the virtual visit. The website’s homepage provides information about current exhibits, happenings at the museum, science bulletins, a children’s section, museum-related news, membership FAQs and even an online museum store to close out your virtual tour. If you are considering an actual visit to the Museum of Natural History, this site provides useful information about planning your trip including pages on directions, parking, museum hours, and downloadable maps of the museum.
The American Museum of Natural History’s Online Community
You’ve got to admire a 130 year old cultural institution that maintains a healthy social networking presence! Visit the Museum of Natural History’s Facebook page to see photos, discussions and videos about the museum. That’s only the beginning. There are hundreds of images on the museum’s Flickr page. There are over 10,000 subscribers to the Museum of Natural History’s YouTube channel, which features over 120 quality educational videos produced by the museum. Also, you can subscribe to feeds regarding Museum of Natural History related news and you can join the 22,000 people who follow the Museum of Natural History on twitter.
Extras for Educators
Not surprisingly, the Museum of Natural History provides an excellent web page designed specifically for educators. Visit Education at the Museum of Natural History to discover educational opportunities for learners of all ages. There are special programs for teachers including curriculum topic studies, workshops, online courses, summer programs and educator evenings. There is also a page which offers information about planning programs for school groups. Finally, the museum provides a free online learning resource in the form of a collection of over 1000 activities and articles for anyone interested in teaching (or just learning) about science.