Museum Guide

Many of NYC’s extraordinary museums are exceptionally kid-friendly with engaging exhibits, friendly staff and amazing kids programs and spaces. Click on a museum’s name for details on storytimes, stroller entrances and more helpful tips. Take advantage of pay-what-you-wish hours and free admission to family programs. Or become members – the tax-deductible annual fee, much less than a semester of music or gym classes, is usually recouped in a few visits and includes perks like museum-store discounts, members-only viewing hours, skipping lines, and making short frequent visits. Not sure where to start? See our favorite current family friendly exhibits and kids programs calendar. Or warm-up with free public art & library exhibits. And see our instagram for photos.


American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History

West 81st Street & Central Park West Upper West Side Daily 10 am - 5:45 pm

NYC kids are the envy of world-wide lovers of dinosaurs, sea creatures, outer space and Ben Stiller for their access to the giant (45 fascinating halls) American Museum of Natural History. The museum’s extensive collection is matched by an array of programs for budding explorers.

Admission: suggested $22/ages 12-65, $12.50/ages 2-12, $17/students & seniors free/ages 2 & under Membership: $125+ Free hours: Admission always pay-what-you-wish, no tickets needed after 5pm. Favorite Spots: On the first floor, a 94-foot-long blue whale hangs over an assortment of sea creatures in the Hall of Ocean Life. Learn about moon rocks and meteorites in the stunning Rose Center for Earth and Space. Zebras, giraffes and other jungle animals surround a family of elephants in the Hall of African Mammals on the second floor. The beloved dinosaur bones fill most of the fourth floor. Family Programs: Explore artifacts and specimens, hang-out inside a giant tree, put together puzzles and conduct scientific experiments in The Discovery Room (open Monday though Thursday 1:30 - 5:10 pm and Saturday, Sunday and holidays 10:30 am - 1:30 pm & 2:15 - 5:10 pm). Free timed tickets are available at the Discovery Room entrance. 6 - 13 year-olds can participate in the popular Night At the Museum sleepovers ($129, talking Teddy Roosevelt not included). Treat Alert: Go casual at Shake Shack (Columbus @ 77th Street), home of delicious cheeseburgers and decadent frozen concretes (including a 'Natural History Crunch-stellation'), or avoid the crowds and cross 77th Street for antipasti, artisanal pastas and paninis at classy Caffe Storico in the New-York Historical Society. The new larger Levain Bakery (home of the famous giant chocolate chip cookies) is a few blocks west at Amsterdam & 77th Street.

Current Kid-Friendly Exhibits:


Our Senses: An Immersive Experience (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.


Children's Museum of Manhattan (CMOM)

Children's Museum of Manhattan (CMOM)

212 West 83rd Street between Broadway & Amsterdam Upper West Side Sunday–Friday 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday 10 am – 7 pm

The enchanting Children’s Museum of Manhattan has interactive, educational exhibits and lots of kids programming and performances.

Admission: $11, $7/seniors, free/ages 11 months old & younger Membership: $210 ($125 is tax deductible) for two adults, all children in their household, and up to two additional adult caregivers. Free hours: First Friday of each month 5-8pm. Family Programs: Check out the packed calendar of daily workshops in design, math, science and more. Workshops are divided into ages 4 & under and 5 & over; the latter require same-day registration one hour before at the yellow Visitor Information Desk in the first floor lobby, where you can also pick up tickets to weekend performances by Broadway artists, professional dance troupes and recording artists one hour before each show. Treat Alert: Choose from salads, sandwiches, amazing healthy artisanal bread and not-so-healthy pastries at the new UWS outpost of the 100-year-old Orwasher's Bakery at Amsterdam & 81st Street. The extensive cheesecake-heavy dessert menu and charming decor lure locals to cash-only tourist trap Cafe Lalo across the street.

Current Kid-Friendly Exhibits:


Let’s Dance! (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.


Children's Museum of the Arts (CMA)

Children's Museum of the Arts (CMA)

102 Charlton Street West & East Village Monday & Wednesday 12-5 pm
Thursday & Friday 12-6 pm
Saturday & Sunday 10 am-5 pm
Closed Tuesday

This delightful, inviting space features self guided art exploration for ages 10 months-15 years. Experiment with sculpture, paints, textiles, sound design, animation, and clay in daily open workshops led by teaching artists and explore rotating exhibitions by established and emerging contemporary artist.

Admission: $5.50 at this link, free/ages under 1 & 65+ Membership: $175+ Free hours: Thursdays 4-6pm Family Programs: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 10:45 am-12 pm, kids up to 5 years old can join WEE Arts Drop-in Session for art making at different stations and music time. $25/family Treat Alert: Get energy for creativity with seasonal, farm-to-table food at Dig Inn (350 Hudson Street between King & Charlton) or sit-down Westville (210 W 10th St). Also visit Jacques Torre's nearby chocolate museum.

Current Kid-Friendly Exhibits:


Ellen Harvey: Ornaments and Other Refrigerator Magnets (through Apr 28)

See a selection of British Brooklynite Ellen Harvey’s new and recent works. Ornamentation, the action of decorating, acts as a starting point for a wide-ranging exploration of the uses, abuses and relevance of the human desire to ornament. Through her exploration of the human inclination to decorate, embellish, and adorn our surroundings, Harvey has created an immersive installation featuring large-scale works that apply ornamentation to scenes from both city life and nature.


Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

2 East 91st Street Upper East Side Daily 10 am - 6 pm
Open Saturday until 9 pm

This newly renovated collection of historic and contemporary design is a high-tech, interactive dream for all ages. Explore innovative design – including blocks, cars and other kid favorites – through the centuries, play designer on high resolution touchscreen tables, pretend to talk on old-fashioned princess phones, and “collect” favorite objects that can be accessed online later with very cool electronic ‘Pens.’

Admission: $16, $14 online, $10/seniors, free/ages 17 & under
Free admission for 1 grown-up after storytimes Membership: $75+ Free hours: Saturdays 6 - 9 pm Favorite Spots: Draw your own wallpaper designs then see them projected lifesize in the Immersion Room Family Programs: Create under the guidance of art and design professionals in weekend Design Kids workshops for ages 5-12. Treat Alert: The excellent cupcakes and other sweet treats are the main lure at Yura on Madison (between 91st & 92nd Street) but delicious healthier entrees, sides & sandwiches are also available.

Current Kid-Friendly Exhibits:


Hear, See, Play: Designing With Sound (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.


Guggenheim

Guggenheim

1071 5th Avenue at 89th Street Upper East Side Daily 10 am – 5:45 pm
Closed Thursday
Open until 7:45 pm Saturday

The striking Frank Lloyd Wright–designed rotunda is reason enough to visit this landmark museum, and exciting, well-designed exhibits and kids’ programs make this a family-friendly setting for contemporary and modern art.

Admission: $22, $18/students & seniors, free/kids under 12 Membership: $75+ Free hours: Saturday 5:45 - 7:45 pm Family Programs: Sundays 1-4 pm, explore exhibition highlights through creative interactive projects in the galleries and head to the Studio Art Lab in the basement to make art inspired by themes and materials seen in the museum. Treat Alert: Cafe 3 on the third floor serves sandwiches, pastries, chocolates, coffee, tea, wine, and beer with a spectacular view across Fifth Avenue to Central Park. Or visit Dean & Deluca a few blocks south on E 86th Street for an array of gourmet goodies.

Current Kid-Friendly Exhibits:


Josef Albers in Mexico (through Mar 28)

See colorful series of geometric paintings inspired by pre-Columbian structures encountered by Josef and Anni Albers during trips to Mexico. Have fun figuring out the differences and similarities between the paintings which remind some kids of Minecraft.


Museum of Arts and Design (MAD)

Museum of Arts and Design (MAD)

2 Columbus Circle Midtown West Tuesday-Sunday 10 am - 6 pm
Open Thursday & Friday until 9 pm

Explore contemporary and historic innovation in craft, art, and design in a lovely setting overlooking Central Park.

Admission: $15, Free/18 and under Membership: $75+ Free hours: Thursdays & Fridays 6 - 9 pm Family Programs: The first Sunday afternoon of each month drop into Studio Sunday to create art inspired by current exhibits (and a stunning Central Park/Columbus Circle view). Projects that can be adapted to any age are led by patient educators. Treat Alert: Stroll across Broadway for delicious French pastries and bread from Maison Kayser and Italian gelato from Grom.

Current Kid-Friendly Exhibits:


Sonic Arcade: Shaping Space with Sound (through Feb 25)

This multi-component exhibition features interactive installations, immersive environments, and performing objects that explore how the ephemeral and abstract nature of sound is made material. Comprised of linked solo and curated projects, the exhibition features contemporary artists, designers, and performers who respond to sound’s potential as a material that influences how people experience space, their environment, and time, drawing out the ability of the auditory to provide a fresh perspective on how surroundings, and the body, are perceived and engaged.


Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

4 West 53rd Street Midtown West Saturday-Wednesday 10:30 am – 5:30 pm
Thursday & Friday 10:30 am – 8 pm

Always exciting and decidedly kid-friendly, MoMA has spacious galleries and elevators, engaging interactive exhibits, occasional performance art and awesome kids programs and hands-on creative spaces.

Admission: $25, $18/seniors, $14/students, free/ages 16 & under Membership: $85+ Free hours: Friday from 4 - 8 pm, line is often around the block. Up to two adults get in free with kids participating in the weekend Family Gallery Talks. Family Programs: Engaging, free Family Gallery Talks are held on most Saturday and Sunday mornings for ages 4 to 16. On the first Saturday of the month, enjoy new and classic live-action and animated films. Admission is free for family programs and includes access to the museum for up to two adults. Treat Alert: Casual Cafe 2 on the second floor has yummy Italian food and high chairs. In the summer snack on small plates and gelato in the peaceful Sculpture Garden. Stop by the midtown outpost of the inventive bakery Momofuku Milk Bar two blocks north (15 West 56th Street) for aptly-named crack pie and soft serve cereal milk ice cream.

Current Kid-Friendly Exhibits:


Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait (through Jan 28)

Arachnophobes beware the giant spider sculptures in this strangely beautiful exhibit exploring the prints, books, and creative process of celebrated sculptor Louise Bourgeois.


Items: Is Fashion Modern? (through Jan 28)

Explore the present, past—and sometimes the future—of 111 items of clothing and accessories that have had a strong impact on the world in the 20th and 21st centuries including the Levi’s 501s, the Breton shirt, and the Little Black Dress, the sari, the pearl necklace, the kippah, and the keffiyeh.


The People’s Studio: Fashion (through Jan 28)

Organized in conjunction with the exhibition Items: Is Fashion Modern?, the People’s Studio is a space to reflect on the intersections of design and daily life. Visitors can deconstruct how garments are made, reimagine their function and style, and share observations on how clothing and accessories express who we are. Scheduled workshops and conversations, led by designers and experts in the field, explore fashion through themes of sustainability, identity, and culture.


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


Museum of the City of New York

Museum of the City of New York

1220 Fifth Avenue at 105th Street Upper East Side Daily 10 am - 6 pm

Become an informed New Yorker at this small museum with a big collection of theater artifacts, furniture, toys, paintings, sculpture and photos arranged into exhibits that entertain and educate all ages.

Admission: Get 2 tickets for $15 Membership: $75+ Family Programs: Ages 6-12 can participate in free history and art activities on weekends and school vacation days. Drop in anytime between 11 am and 2 pm. Free snacks included. All ages can go on family-friendly scavenger hunts with free themed guides designed to help families to look closely at the building and exhibitions. Treat Alert: Choose from different size and type of patties and an array of homemade sauces to make your own burger at Joy Burger Bar with a side of excellent sweet potato or zucchini fries.

Current Kid-Friendly Exhibits:


Mod New York: Fashion Takes a Trip (through Apr 1)

Explores the full arc of fashion of the 1960s, a period marked by tremendous and daring stylistic diversity. Through more than 70 garments, trace the dramatic transformation in clothing between 1960 and 1973, not only in length and silhouette, but also in materials and methods of textile manufacture. Works by designers as diverse as Mary Quant, Geoffrey Beene, and Pauline Trigère illuminate the communicative powers of fashion in the ’60s—reflecting cultural trends from Beatlemania to Pop and Op Art to infatuation with the “space race,” and social changes like the women’s liberation movement and the radicalism of the counterculture and antiwar movements. Also on display are fine and costume jewelry, shoes, handbags, design renderings, and photographs that capture the spirit of a creative and confrontational era.


New York on Ice Skating in the City (through Apr 18)

From frozen ponds to Madison Square Garden, ice-skating has become a quintessentially New York pastime, woven into the city’s urban fabric in ways large and small. Explore how ice-skating evolved in the city from its colonial Dutch and British origins to become a 19th-century craze, and later an opportunity for elaborate spectacle, commercialized leisure, and competitive sport in the 20th century and beyond. See vintage photographs, posters, lithographs, paintings, and costumes that reveal the evolution of the sport and art of ice-skating in the city both as a window into a passion and pastime of generations of New Yorkers, and as an unexpected ingredient of urban place-making.


Museum of the Moving Image

36-01 35 Avenue (at 37 Street) Queens Admission: $15/adults, $9/students & seniors, $7/ages 3-12, free/2 and under Treat Alert:

Current Kid-Friendly Exhibits:


Jim Henson’s World (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.


New Museum

New Museum

235 Bowery West Village/East Village Wednesday - Sunday 11 am - 6pm, open until 9 pm on Fridays

Always something interesting to see – or interact with – in the rotating exhibits at Manhattan’s only dedicated contemporary art museum.

Admission: $16, $14/seniors, free/ages 17 & under Membership: $60+ Favorite Spots: Check out a great view from the top floor Sky Room (open Saturdays & Sundays) Family Programs: Join museum educators for creative free family programs the first Saturday of every month. Treat Alert: So many yummy treats in this happening neighborhood. Try healthy French and Moroccan casual fare (and a famous avocado toast) at Café Gitane (242 Mott St) or innovative ice cream flavors at Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream (2 Rivington).

Current Kid-Friendly Exhibits:


Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon (through Jan 21)

An intergenerational group of artists explore gender beyond the binary to usher in more fluid and inclusive expressions of identity through a variety of mediums and genres, including film, video, performance, painting, sculpture, photography, and craft.


New York Hall of Science

New York Hall of Science

Flushing Meadow-Corona Park Queens

The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) was founded at the 1964–65 World’s Fair and evolved into a center for interactive science. Sometimes it’s age shows, but fun hands-on learning opportunities, intriguing new exhibits, awesome 4D films, an engineering-themed outdoor playground and interesting family programs make it worth the trip to Queens.

Admission: $15, $12/ages 2 – 17, students & seniors Membership: $85+ Free hours: Friday 2 – 5 pm & Sundays10 – 11 am. Treat Alert:

Current Kid-Friendly Exhibits:


Connected Worlds (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.


New-York Historical Society

New-York Historical Society

70 Central Park West at 77th Street Upper West Side Tuesday-Thursday, Saturday 10am-6pm
Friday 10am-8pm
Sunday 11am-5pm

This fascinating museum features an entire floor to interactive exhibits especially for kids (though accompanying grown-ups will probably learn something too). Weekly and special occasion family learning programs range from weekly storytimes to historical chocolate tastings, with frequent visits from living historians portraying Americans of the past.

Admission: $20, $6/ages 5-13, free/ages 4 & under
50% off with this link Membership: $75+ Free hours: Fridays 6-8 pm Favorite Spots: Ride an orphan train or play a newsies video game in the awesome DiMenna Children's History Museum. Hands-on exhibits tell the life stories of diverse youngsters who lived in New York City from the late seventeenth through the twentieth centuries. Immersive video projection, moving scenic elements, theatrical lighting and surround sound explore the history of New York during the eighteen-minute New York Story shown throughout the day. Family Programs: Tuesdays & Thursdays at 3:30pm, 3 - 5 year olds can hear NY-themed stories, do related craft projects and play with historic toys in Little New-Yorkers. There are always different interesting events related to holidays and current exhibits; check the family programs calendar to see what's coming up. Treat Alert: Feast on antipasti, artisanal pastas and paninis ar Caffe Storico, the museum's classy but kid-friendly eatery. Get burgers and shakes at Shake Shack down the block (Columbus @ 77th Street).

Current Kid-Friendly Exhibits:


Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection (through Feb 25)

Train enthusiasts of all ages can explore an immersive multimedia winter wonderland featuring theatrical lighting, an ambient audio “soundscape” and lots of historical model trains, scenic elements and toys. Pick up an “I Spy” Holiday Express trains and toys hunt to match pictures and rhyming facts with whimsical and intricate objects. See if for free and enjoy train0related actovities every Friday morning during Rise and Ride the Holiday Express


Hotbed (through Mar 25)

Immersive installations and more than 100 artifacts and images explore the vibrant political and artistic scene of Greenwich Village in the early 20th century, where men and women joined forces across the boundaries of class and race to fight for a better world and women’s rights to control their own bodies, to do meaningful work, and above all, to vote. —drawn from New-York Historical’s archives and several private collections—bring to life the bohemian scene and its energetic activist spirit.


The Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum

1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street Upper East Side 11 am - 5:45 pm, closed Wednesdays

Explore the global Jewish experience through works of fine art, Judaica, antiquities, folk art, ceremonial objects, and broadcast media intelligently organized in gorgeous galleries and play in the small but engaging Archaeology Zone.

Admission: $15, free/ages 18 & under Membership: $75+ Free hours: Thursdays 5-8 pm Favorite Spots: In the fascinating and friendly Archaeology Zone, children learn what happens after archaeologists unearth artifacts. Search for clues about objects dating from ancient times to the present day, dress up and play in a Moroccan home, create works of art inspired by unique objects in the Museum’s collection and more. Family Programs: Sunday family programs include drop-in art workshops, storytimes and occasional family concerts. Treat Alert: Nosh on smoked fish platters, bagels and bialys, knishes, egg creams, babka and more Jewish-Amreican classic foods and the new in-museum outpost of iconic Lower East Side appetizing shop Russ & Daughters.

Current Kid-Friendly Exhibits:


Modigliani Unmasked (through Feb 4)

See early drawings by acclaimed sculptor Amedeo Modigliani as well as a selection of his paintings and sculptures alongside work representative of the various multicultural influences—African, Greek, Egyptian, and Khmer—that inspired the Italian-Sephardic artist during his youth in turn-of-the-century Paris. Heads composed of bold lines are accessible to all ages, and an accompanying kids’ guide encourages all ages to notice the connections between Modigliani’s drawings and his sculptures and to create line drawings of their own.


Veiled Meanings: Fashioning Jewish Dress (through Mar 18)

Tthe first comprehensive U.S. exhibition drawn from The Israel Museum’s world-renowned collection of Jewish costumes showcases over 100 articles of clothing from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, arranged as complete ensembles or shown as stand-alone items. A sumptuous array of apparel from over 20 countries on four continents offers an exceptional opportunity to view many facets of Jewish identity and culture through rarely seen garments.


Whitney Museum of American Art

Whitney Museum of American Art

99 Gansevoort Street Chelsea Sunday, Monday & Wednesday 10:30 am - 6 pm
Thursday - Saturday 10:30 am - 10 pm
Closed Tuesday

Bold modern contemporary art that engages all ages, now in a gorgeous new building with a stunning view of the Hudson River.

Admission: $22, $18/students & seniors, free/kids under 18 Membership: $85+ Free hours: Friday 7-10 pm Favorite Spots: Ramble up and down the outdoor stairs on the terrace with a view. Treat Alert: The lobby restaurant Untitled is delicious, surprisingly kid-friendly and has one of the best chocolate chip cookies in the city.

Current Kid-Friendly Exhibits:


Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World (through Jan 28)

American Indian artist and activist Jimmie Durhamombines found objects and natural materials and incorporates text to expose Western-centric views and prejudices hidden in language, objects, and institutions. Calling himself an “interventionist,” Durham is oftentimes critical in his analysis of society but with a distinctive wit that is simultaneously generous and humorous. See through-provoking sculpture, drawing, collage, photography, video, and performance created from 1970 to the present.


Laura Owens (through Feb 4)

See Los Angeles–based artist Laura Owens bold and experimental work that challenges traditional assumptions about figuration and abstraction, as well as the relationships among avant-garde art, craft, pop culture, and technology.


Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined (through Feb 25)

Toyin Ojih Odutola presents an interconnected series of fictional portraits, chronicling the lives of two aristocratic Nigerian families. These life-size, intimate drawings of enigmatic and mysterious figures explore the complexity and malleability of identity.


Note: Don’t visit The Frick or Neue Galerie with kids, they’re not allowed inside.

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