Life at the Limits and Nature’s Fury, Special Exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History #AMNH
My kids’ favorite museum in Manhattan is the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Beyond the permanent exhibits of fossils, nature dioramas, rocks and minerals, the Planetarium and Space Shows, and the Butterfly Conservatory, there are always a few well-designed, interactive, engaging special exhibits.
Life at the Limits just launched at the beginning of April and will continue through the rest of the year until January 3, 2016. The astounding and inspiring thesis of the exhibit is the tenacity of life on this planet. My kids were most fascinated by the tardigrade, which is sort of the exhibit mascot and is featured in Cosmos.
These super-tiny survivors can be boiled, frozen to near absolute zero, dessicated, and even be sent into the vacuum of space, and still keep on living.
The exhibit is organized around the themes of courtship and reproduction, breathing in low-oxygen environments, locomotion, highly-attuned and extra senses, eating, defense systems, and endurance. As part of the exhibit, visitors enter a cave to learn about creatures and other organisms that live without light. Other interactive elements include a giant Hercules beetle on which the kids can climb and a motion-capture “game” that allows visitors to “test the ‘super powers’ of several species that they encountered in the exhibition.”
Nature’s Fury, which opened in November and continues through August 9, 2015, focuses on Earth’s natural disasters. The exhibit examines these phenomena from a scientific, historical and cultural, and current events perspective. So, visitors learn about natural disasters in mythology, some of the worst recorded earthquakes in history, and Hurricane Sandy (which hit the New York metro-area in 2012).
Some of the hands-on elements of this exhibit include creating a volcano, playing with models of different types of fault-lines, jumping to create and measure seismic activity, and using a pinball like plunger to observe waves.
We always enjoy the AMNH exhibits and I thought the interactive elements of this exhibit were particular outstanding. They were both attractive and engaging to the kids, as well as essential to understanding some of the more challenging concepts. At their best, museum exhibits allow visitors to grasp ideas that would normally be too abstract or advanced for a layperson. AMNH consistently makes ideas like these accessible to even children.
Of course, while you are at the AMNH, you cannot miss the dinosaurs or the meteors!
Disclosure: The American Museum of Natural History provided me with media passes to facilitate my review. All words, opinions, and images are my own.