NYC: Space – The Final Frontier

Yesterday I went to the American Museum of Natural History which is also home to the Rose Center. This is another huge building in a classical style and one of those lobbies where the ceiling is so high it has its own weather systems.

The Rose Center looked appealing from the website because it’s the big space exhibit. That’s space as in the solar system and the universe as opposed to the wide open spaces of America. The Center looks really impressive from the pictures consisting of the giant Hayden Sphere and it’s all shiny and new.

New. Hmmm. Yes. Guess what? Just like anywhere else in the world, most of the stuff didn’t work and was broken, it was full of schoolkids on trips from the time the doors opened and the main Big Bang exhibit is closed for renovation. It’s ALL designed for kids though — nothing tilts up to adult eye level and the descriptions are pretty simplistic. I liked the walk around the edge which gives you the scale of the universe and our place in it and goes right down to atoms. That was ‘neat’.

There’s a planetarium type space show in the top half of the sphere but I was feeling in a pikey mood so I didn’t want to pay the admission and therefore didn’t go in.

The rest of the natural history museum reminded me of the one in London, some bits better and some not as good. The evolution timeline is very well done and I spent ages looking at the pretty shiny things in the crystal display, mainly because there were places to sit. Everything is sponsored or donated and I did get a sense of various politically messages being pushed especially in the environmental exhibits. They were messages I’d agree with so I didn’t have a problem except the sheer blatantness of it.

Eventually my legs got tired from all the walking and I tried to find my way out. Haha. I was lost. By accident I saw the Native American displays and the giant whale exhibit. And lots of dead ends. Ironic really when there are so many dead things in there to look at. Was I going to become another exhibit? The Missing Link perhaps? Fortunately not and somehow or other I did get back to the main lobby.

After I went to see the latest Robert DeNiro movie 15 Minutes which is all about the American obsession with getting fame through television. Supposedly. Actually it’s just a solid cop buddy movie with a few interesting ideas, carried by the direction and the editing trying to make up for a totally average script.

They also showed the trailer for the new Tim Burton Planet of the Apes remake which is due out here in July and looks awesome. Plus lots of other stuff which will reach the UK sometime around Christmas in all probability or maybe not at all.

Talking of movies I noticed a crew had taken over a street yesterday and were filming. I guess this is pretty commonplace around here. And watching a New York based film like 15 Minutes when you’re actually here is odd in a sense because all those shots of big big skylines they use to establish how impressive and important it all is lose a lot of their impact when you see them every day. My first impression here was that NY dwarfs everyone but actually that soon gets accepted and then ignored to be replaced by your normal human awareness of people-sized things.

Also on the subject of filming, I noticed the light here when I first arrived. Because of its latitude, the NY sunlight hits at a really steep angle which is why the huge towers don’t actually put the roads into the shade (the roads are pretty wide too which helps). On a clear day, it’s a very hard harsh light with shadows filled by bounce from the surrounding buildings. Filming here in the daytime must take a lot of grip trucks with big daylight balanced halogen lamps just to balance that out.

The sharp downward sunlight also explains the popularity of wide brimmed baseball caps and dark glasses. So now you know!