The Force is Strong at Nature’s Fury, the Museum of Natural History’s Latest Exhibit
First, let me just say that any visit to the American Museum of Natural History is bound to educate, entertain, and satisfy. You can't go too often (unless you're six years old), but if you grew up around these parts, there are few things that can evoke the feeling of childhood more readily and deeply than a stroll through the dimly lit corridors of the museum's permanent collection. The mammals, the ocean life, the birds, the "peoples", the reptiles… these iconic dioramas, though cleaned up a few years ago, remain unchanged in their content and composition, down to the smallest details, from when I started going here in the late 1960s. The whole fossil and dinosaur wing was (very successfully) redesigned in 2003, so even though these great creatures are still as cool as you can imagine, they don't pack the nostalgic punch of, say, the pair of moose locked in combat, or the massive tree trunk.
Welcome to The American Museum of Natural History
So even though the AMNH's main draw, for locals and tourists alike, will always be the permanent exhibitions–some of more recent additions, by the way, such as Hall of Biodiversity, and the Hall of Planet Earth, are excellent, and likely to become as iconic for new generations as the stuff I remember most–in order to generate excitement the Museum of Natural History now also puts up a few special shows every year. Another motive for the special exhibitions, which usually include an IMAX movie, and the annual, ever-popular Butterfly Conservatory: you have to pay the full general admission price ($25 for adults), plus a $2 supplement, to get into the special show of your choice. Which is a lot more than, say, the $5 I usually pay as my "suggested" entry fee to roam around the permanent collection.
Nature's Fury: The Science of Natural Disasters
The question then becomes, is it worth it? For Nature's Fury, which opened in November and explores the causes and effects (on humans) of all sorts of natural disasters–volcanoes, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis–is, unfortunately, no. Maybe I was spoiled by how well the Cooper Hewitt has integrated tough-screen and other interactive features into their new design, and unfortunaltey all of the hands-on aspects of the exhibition here are not as cool. The "Build Your Own Volcano" display, for example, really just involves hitting one of four buttons and watching a CGI video; at the "Manipulate an Earthquake Fault" table you push a lever back and forth and see one piece of a drab model rub against another. And the non-interactive parts of exhibition are no more engaging or informative than an average picture book on the subject. Bottom line: by all means go to American Museum of Natural History, with kids or without, now and forever. Just think twice before paying all that extra money for special shows like Nature's Fury.
For More Information on Nature's Fury at The American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History is located on Central Park West and 79th Street and is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Tons more information about everything is available here.