FA Visits The American Museum Of Natural History [AMNH]

While the Founder of Free Admission, Pat Nicholson, has gone through the court system – see “The FA Story” on this website – in order to change the admissions policy at the Metropolitan Museum of Art so that it is 100% in compliance with Ch. 476 of the Laws of 1893 which extended the days and times of free admission for New Yorkers. FA has not engaged in any such action regarding free admission access by New Yorkers to the other 12 institutions on park land, each of which exists with its own “history”. To learn more, visit “Expanded Efforts” on this website.

This begins a series of blogs where we visit other institutions on park land.

Our visits to the AMNH were pleasant indeed!

On the first of three visits, we arrived after 4:45 pm and were pleasantly surprised to be told by a guard that admission was free (waived) from 4:45 until closing at 5:45 – every day. The kiosks that line the main hall all had signs that clearly stated this policy.  

Another AMNH plus for this FA visitor: this museum has a lot of ticket counter space and enough clerks on duty so that lines move quickly. In addition to these ample counters, there are separate areas for members, patrons, etc. and those kiosks.

We visited two more times after our “free admission” visit and here’s what happened:

  • On the first of these, when we reached the ticket counter itself, we were told that the admissions policy is “the amount you pay is up to you.” There are plenty of signs detailing the admission policy including in plastic sheets right by the clerk on duty. This was very helpful. Suggested for adults is $23; for seniors 60 plus with ID and students $18 and for children 2 to 12, $13. There are also admissions available for plus one and that are all inclusive of exhibitions, giant screen film and the Space Show. To take advantage of the “amount you pay is up to you” general admission policy, you need to go to the ticket counters (versus paying online or at the kiosks).
  • On our second visit, we asked the clerk if she knew that the museum is free for new Yorkers per laws in place [again, see Expanded Efforts and the end of this blog]. The clerk very politely said that I could pay a penny, which I did. When I repeated that the museum is free for New Yorkers, I was told that the museum is indeed free if I have a New York ID card. The AMNH website clearly states that “IDNYC cardholders ages 18 and older are eligible for a free one-year membership at the AMNH. Some restrictions apply.”
  • On our third and final visit, which was intentionally scheduled on a weekend, the place was packed with adults and children. The much longer lines moved quickly and the polite ticket counter clerk immediately told me I could wait ten minutes and get in free as it was around 4:30 pm or so. I again put out that the museum is indeed free for New Yorkers, this time bringing a phone bill as an ID; the clerk restated the “the amount you pay is up to you” policy. I again paid a penny, which was fine by her. All encountered here including the many guards were polite with a good, helpful attitude. Indeed, one volunteer told me that she intentionally volunteers at this museum because it is like family.

Another key point here is this: their admissions policy of “the amount you pay is up to you” applies across the board including to out-of-towners (the Met Museum has mandatory fees for non-New Yorkers).

Yet another is that the AMNH receives generous admissions support from the Richard and Karen LeFrak Exhibition and Education Fund as stated on their site.  This includes supporting free admission for New York City school and camp groups. We laud this.

Finally, while we encourage you to visit our Expanded Efforts page, we know how busy you are so here is something to see now:

Ch. 31 of the Laws of 1893, states the following in Section 1 regarding AMNH:

American museum of natural history shall be kept open and accessible to the public hereafter free of charge throughout the year for five days in each week, one of which shall be Sunday afternoon, and also two evenings of each week …

This legislation should be reviewed to understand its meaning and whether it has been amended or repealed.