Family-Friendly Exhibits

Rainy spring breaks are the perfect time to explore NYC museum exhibits that appeal to all ages. All are climate controlled with room to roam. See our guides to kid-friendly museums for more exhibits and detailed info on kid-friendly cultural palaces. (plus tips for taking kids to museums for the wary).

More indoor options:

weekly events | current deals | weekly storytimes | drop-in playspaces & classes | museum guide

100 Gates Project

Lower East Side, East Harlem & Staten Island
See map for locations

Through Dec 31

The 100 Gates Project connects artists and merchants to create original murals on roll-down security gates on the Lower East Side, East Harlem & Staten Island, creating an open-air galleries that are open when your kids wake up too early and everything else is closed.

Bridge Project: Ian Berry | The Secret Garden

Children’s Museum of the Arts (CMA)
102 Charlton Street

Free with museum admission ($5.50 at this link, free/ages under 1 & 65+)
Through Apr 29

British artist Ian Berry uses denim, his trademark material to create a site-specific installation: an indigo covered garden. Walk up a stoned pathway through the trellis among gorgeous layer of flowers, plants, stepping stones, and toys all made out of denim.

Circle of Dance

National Museum of the American Indian – New York
One Bowling Green

Through Apr 30

This awesome five-year exhibit featuring videos and gorgeous costumes of ten Native American social and ceremonial dances from throughout the Americas with plenty of floor space to dance along.

Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
4 West 53rd Street

Free with museum admission ($25, $18/seniors, $14/students, free/ages 16 & under)
Through Apr 1

Examine the scene-changing, interdisciplinary life of this seminal downtown New York alternative space Club 57. We recommend guiding kids past images and videos that may raise questions you aren’t ready to answer to the very col neon Cosmic Cavern for the ultimate glow-in-the-dark I Spy.

Connected Worlds

New York Hall of Science
Flushing Meadow-Corona Park

Free with museum admission ($15, $12/ages 2 – 17, students & seniors)
Through Dec 31

Explore a fantastical animated world where your actions – gestures, movements, and decisions – impact how well the world is kept in balance. Six magical, computer generated habitats: jungle, desert, wetlands, river valley, reservoir, and grasslands -have their own trees, plants, and animals, but they share a common supply of water. The habitats are fed by a central waterfall that is projected 38-ft high in the exhibitions and flows out across an interactive floor that spans 2,300 square feet. As visitors explore and play, their actions – gestures, movements, decisions – have both short and long-term effects on the digital habitats.

Hear, See, Play: Designing With Sound

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
2 East 91st Street

Free with museum admission ($16, $14 online, $10/seniors, free/ages 17 & under
Free admission for 1 grown-up after storytimes)
Through Jul 29

In this hands-on exhibition, become a sound designer for Trash Bot, a street-cleaning machine. Also see cool record covers and concert posters and play with different sounds.

Hello from Japan!

Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM)
212 West 83rd Street between Broadway & Amsterdam

Free with museum admission ($11, $7/seniors, free/ages 11 months old & younger)
Through Jun 30

Experience Tokyo’s vibrant culture in a playful, highly immersive environment. In Kawaii Central, a streetscape inspired by Tokyo’s bustling Harajuku district, sing karaoke, smile for a photo booth camera, serve up a seasonal Japanese meal, and design adorable family mascots. In the beautiful, natural Shinto shrine park build a bridge, crawl through a forest, encounter kami spirits, and make a wish at a wishing tree.

Jim Henson's World

Museum of the Moving Image
36-01 35 Avenue (at 37 Street)

Free with museum admission ($15/adults, $9/students & seniors, $7/ages 3-12, free/2 and under)
Through Dec 31

Explore Jim Henson’s groundbreaking work for film and television and his transformative impact on popular culture and learn how Henson and his team of builders, performers, and writers brought to life the enduringly popular worlds of The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth. Among the nearly 300 objects on view are 47 puppets—including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Rowlf, The Swedish Chef, Statler, Big Bird, Elmo, Cantus Fraggle, and other popular favorites—character sketches, storyboards, scripts, photographs, and iconic costumes. See film and television clips and behind-the-scenes footage and try interactive experiences puppeteering on screen and designing a puppet character.

Let's Dance!

Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM)
212 West 83rd Street between Broadway & Amsterdam

Free with museum admission ($11, $7/seniors, free/ages 11 months old & younger)
Through Dec 31

Bounce, glide or leap in an exciting exhibition/dance space designed to introduce children and families to the delights of dance. Celebrate the beauty, spirit, and diversity of the form while learning about the important role dance can play in a child’s world. Discover dance from a variety of entry points: as an art form, as an expression of diverse cultures and traditions, and as a healthy physical activity. Interact with the immersive video projection dome dance portal to watch, learn and dance along with professional, community, and student dance companies from New York and abroad. Create multi-color shadow dances on the “stage” while exploring lighting design with a child-friendly lighting box. Choreograph a series of dance patterns while learning the language of dance and using movable signs, engaging props and fun costumes. Experiment with authentic percussion instruments, drumming unique beats and rhythms. Lots of related workshops and performances, including daily dance and movement programs at 10:30 am, 11:30 am & 2 pm.


Garment District Plazas
Broadway between West 37th & 38th Streets

Through Mar 31

Get inside and activate large, retro-futuristic cylinders by pumping a lever that makes the cylinder spin, light up and play musical movies inspired by 13 fairytales.

MoMA Art Lab: Nature

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
4 West 53rd Street

Free with museum admission ($25, $18/seniors, $14/students, free/ages 16 & under)
$85/year ($38 tax deductible)
Through Dec 31

Visitors of all ages can discover how artists and designers are inspired by the natural world in a new multisensory installation. Beautiful discovery boxes contain creative activities related to seashells, grass, butterflies, etc. inspired by works in the galleries. Also lots of gorgeous books, building toys and multimedia projects that appeal to all ages (including this mom – I made a cool flower-inspired chair prototype). Great play spot for bad weather days (or good weather – it’s right next to the sculpture garden). All ages welcome.


High Line 14th Street Passage
Tenth Avenue & West 14th Street

Through Mar 30

This open-air group exhibition on the scenic High Line explores the relationship between man and nature, looking at how the boundaries between the natural world and culture are defined, crossed, and obliterated. We liked the circle of colorful creatures swallowing each other, the giant griffin sculpture, and he mysterious silver witch shoes. See-saw and play music with your feet in the interactive La Deliciosa Show by Radamés “Juni” Figueroa on 30th Street.

Our Senses: An Immersive Experience

American Museum of Natural History
West 81st Street & Central Park West

Free with museum admission (suggested $22/ages 12-65, $12.50/ages 2-12, $17/students & seniors free/ages 2 & under)
Through Jan 6

In a highly experiential exhibition, explore 11 funhouse-like spaces that dare you to trust your senses, then show you how what we perceive is not simply a window into the world around us but a product of our brains. Plus, discover why we have senses and what’s unique about human perception during an interactive session hosted by a live presenter.

The Orchid Show: Daniel Ost

New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Boulevard

$20, $18/students & seniors, $8/ages 2-12, free/ages 1 & under
Through Apr 22

Wander through a series of gorgeous orchid installations crafted by Daniel Ost—each a living sculpture that celebrates the complex beauty of these stunning flowers. Pretty flowers in a pretty setting. Don’t forget to visit the ‘treehouse’ in the ‘jungle.’

Unseen Oceans

American Museum of Natural History
West 81st Street & Central Park West

Free with museum admission (suggested $22/ages 12-65, $12.50/ages 2-12, $17/students & seniors free/ages 2 & under)
Through Jan 6

Explore the alien world lies hidden beneath the sunlit surface of the ocean in a fascinating, interactive exhibition. Encounter giant sea creatures on a life-size screen, go on on a vertical journey through marine environments at different depths, sit inside a scale model Triton submersible, and learn about new technologies and research.

Have you been to any of these? What are your family’s latest discoveries around town?

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