Monday, September 5, 2011

Of mice and stars at the AMNH

Bought $5 tickets for the American Museum of Natural History.  Yeah, I know admission is a dollar, the tickets included free admission to one of the specials.  We went with kids and friends.  Unfortunately, there's no B train, but there are elevators and ramps on 42nd for the transfer from Q to C.

We were supposed to go to the main entrance with our vouchers but the guard let us through and walked us halfway to the Will Call desk where we got tickets for the shows.  We bought tickets for the Journey to the Stars at the Hayden Planetarium.  Was afraid the kids would freak out at Tornado Alley at IMAX.  The staff at the planetarium were also very nice.  We came right after the show started and were let in for next show without having to go exchange tickets and the women and kids were let into the line without a ticket while I was in the bathroom.

The fun started at the planetarium.  They tell you that it doesn't matter where you sit, and yes, it doesn't.  You can't see no matter where you sit.  The sits are not reclined enough and are not reclinable more, while you have to look straight up.  Also, maybe I'm blind, but the movie seemed blurry.  Around 25 years ago, on a school trip, 3rd or 4th grade, I was in a planetarium in Moscow.  It had an old style projector, no movie, no lasers.  The show was interesting and informative.  The show was about specific stars and constellation and where they appear.  Journey to the Stars, on the other hand, is tailored towards two year olds.  A better and more informative zoom out was done at the end of MIB for years ago.  Planets inside the solar system are shown with their orbits (vectors) but are too small and shown too fast to recognize and no labels provided.  Different types of stars are mentioned but very broadly.  One constellation is mentioned and a few stars are named but not shown where they appear in the sky.  The movie was not informative or interesting and not even visually stunning.  Replacing the whole movie with pictures from the Hubble telescope would be a great improvement.  Considering the movie was narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, they could've at least started it on the Enterprise with Guinan.  Unfortunately, the whole movie, fail.

After the show, we went to eat.  Outside food is not allowed in the cafeterias, but there is a School Lunchroom where the Hebrews may eat their food.  As we walked in, a mouse ran across the lunchroom.  The kids were duly entertained, the wife was not.  While we were eating, around 45 minutes, same or several other mice ran by.  Well, at least I got to see some live exhibits.

I did not find special (pay per show) exhibits being placed in the middle of key connecting areas to be particularly amusing.  As it is, the abysmal layout of the pavilions requires too much backtracking, especially if you're unable to use the stairs.  As far as the elevators, too few and too small and you have to wait for 10 minutes because of assholes who can't be bothered to use the stairs.

The animal sections confuse me.  I understand showing extinct animals, but what's the point of dioramas of animals you can go look at at the zoo, which is 10 minutes away.  Laziness and instant gratification.  I'd rather look at live animals, even when they're not one foot away.


  1. There is a cool museum of tv and radio broadcasting - let's go there some day. Those guys know how to make good visuals.

  2. Go sit in a booth and watch old shows? Can do that at home.
    btw, was surprised soda was $1.50 and not $3 or more.

  3. Is that all the museum's got? They must have more than that.

  4. Those were the most memorable. :p
    A lot of the exhibits don't interest me much.
    And those that might, ended up being on the first floor and we were leaving.