How Long Does It Take to Tour the National Museum of Natural History?

If you’re planning a visit to the National Museum of Natural History, one of the most common questions you might have is how long it takes to tour the museum. The answer, of course, depends on a variety of factors. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect.

Factors to Consider

There are a few things to consider when it comes to estimating your visit time at the National Museum of Natural History.

The Size of the Museum

Firstly, the museum is quite large. It spans over 1.5 million square feet and has 325,000 square feet of exhibition space. This means there’s a lot to see and explore.

Your Interests

Secondly, your interests will play a role in how long you spend at the museum. If you’re someone who loves dinosaurs and fossils, for example, you might spend more time in those exhibits than someone who is more interested in human evolution or ocean life.

The Time of Year

Lastly, the time of year will also impact how long it takes to tour the museum. During peak tourist season (usually summer), there may be longer lines and more crowds which can slow down your visit.

Touring Options

The National Museum of Natural History offers several different touring options that can impact how long it takes to see everything.

Self-Guided Tour

If you decide to take a self-guided tour, you’ll be able to explore at your own pace and spend as much or as little time as you want in each exhibit. This option could take anywhere from two hours for a quick walk-through to an entire day if you want to see everything in detail.

Museum Highlights Tour

If you’re short on time or just want an overview of some of the most popular exhibits, you might opt for a museum highlights tour. These tours typically last 60-90 minutes and cover the most well-known exhibits.

Specialty Tours

There are also specialty tours that focus on specific topics like dinosaurs, gems and minerals, or the ocean. These tours can range from 45 minutes to two hours depending on the topic.

Tips for Planning Your Visit

If you’re trying to plan your visit to the National Museum of Natural History, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Consider your interests and plan accordingly.
  • If you’re short on time, consider a museum highlights tour.
  • Check the museum’s website for any special exhibitions or events that might impact your visit.
  • Try to avoid peak tourist season if possible.
  • Wear comfortable shoes as there’s a lot of walking involved.


In summary, how long it takes to tour the National Museum of Natural History really depends on several factors including the size of the museum, your interests, and the time of year. With so much to see and explore, it’s best to plan ahead and decide what touring option works best for you. Regardless of how long it takes you to tour the museum, one thing is for sure – there will always be something new and exciting to discover!