The Upper West Side’s American Museum of Natural History, the chief cultural destination for New York City’s scientifically curious minds, also richly rewards those who love art, design, and curiosities. You won’t find paintings and sculptures here, but you will find some of nature’s most dazzling specimens of minerals and gemstones, iridescent butterfly wings, and awe-inspiring creatures like the great Blue Whale that floats just above the Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life. Of course, this Blue Whale is a fiberglass model, but her sheer size has inspired many a budding marine biologist to dive into the wonders of the deep. The AMNH is just steps from Central Park and many of the neighborhood’s luxury condos, including those at The Chatsworth. Local residents and visitors alike who are curious about the natural world will enjoy these exciting fall exhibitions at the AMNH:

Life at the Limits: Stories of Amazing Species

From the middle of the concrete jungle, the AMNH presents a stupendous collection of amazingly strange co-inhabitants of the planet Earth, particularly those that can live where we can’t imagine anything could: in high heat, extreme cold, barren deserts, and at the deepest reaches of the ocean. Since our evolution from single-celled organisms, life has diverged into an enormous family tree with some relatives that look pretty unfamiliar. Despite the dizzying array of differences, though, common goals of survival and reproduction often make these creatures surprisingly relatable. Some of them – like the iconic, rotund water bear that graces the exhibition’s posters – are even cute.

Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Secret Ocean

This mesmerizing 3D film took more than three years of underwater shooting in various exotic locations that include the Bahamas and Fiji. Jean-Michel is the son of famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau and marine biologist Holly Lohuis. Cutting-edge camera technology has allowed Jean-Michel Cousteau to capture never-before-seen species and their behaviors. The immersive experience is not only unforgettable; for most viewers, it will provide the closest look they’ll ever get into the inky deep.

Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease

Humanity has managed to eradicate only a single deadly disease in its entire history: smallpox. This was no small feat, of course, and today excited scientists and health workers believe they may be closing in on the eradication of a second deadly disease: Guinea worm. The Countdown to Zero exhibit explores and reports on efforts to address Guinea worm, which once regularly affected millions around the world. Malaria, polio, and lymphatic filariasis, which are also in the sights of contemporary disease fighters, are examined as well.

Dark Universe

An updated version of the popular Hayden Planetarium show voiced by Cosmos host and AMNH Astrophysicist and Planetarium Director Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson will reopen on November 24th. The show treats viewers to elaborate renderings of cosmic phenomena and reveals the scientific instruments and cosmic events that have helped scientists understand our place in the universe. Since new discoveries tend to uncover new mysteries, the film addresses questions such as “What is the nature of the dark matter and energy that accounts for almost 95% of the universe’s total mass and energy?” Check out Dark Universe to learn the answer, plus more!

Spiders Alive

Through the end of November, Spiders Alive offers a memorable look at a remarkable collection of arachnid specimens from around the world. Nervous? Don’t be: experts maintain that most spiders feed on the very bugs that bother us most and are not, in fact, out to get us. The AMNH actually houses a global repository of over one million spider specimens, the largest collection in the world, so if you ever need to identify an eight-legged interloper, this is the place to do so. During Spiders Alive, specially trained AMNH arachnid handlers will even make some of these creatures available to touch during hands-on, family-friendly programs.

Along with the museum’s permanent collections, special attractions such as these dazzle and delight a host of visitors each day. Visit www.amnh.org for more information about American Museum of Natural History exhibitions and programs.

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