Family-Friendly Exhibits

When the weather’s disagreeable or you need to entertain out-of-town visitors of all age, explore these awesome NYC museum exhibits. 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 and museum family programming calendar). Free culture can be found on our public art & library exhibits listing. And lots of exhibit photos on our Instagram. More indoor options: weekly events | current deals | weekly storytimes | drop-in classes | indoor playspaces | museum guide

Ben Jones: Road Trip II & KATSU Memory Foam

The Hole 312 Bowery
FREE
Through Jan 28

See two striking exhibits at innovative art gallery The Hole. Experience driving through the American West as imagined by Japanese video game designers in the 80s as imagined by artist Ben Jones in immersive video piece Road Trip II. In Memory Foam new media artist KATSU looks deeper at how machine learning is outstripping emotional intelligence using drone paintings, wallpaper, AI criminal portraits and a new VR piece.


Modigliani Unmasked

The Jewish Museum 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street
Free with museum admission ($15, free/ages 18 & under)
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.


Laura Owens

Whitney Museum of American Art 99 Gansevoort Street
Free with museum admission ($22, $18/students & seniors, free/kids under 18)
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.


[Zip:Unzip the Future] Immersive Media Art Show

3LD Art & Technology Center 80 Greenwich Street
$11, $15/weekends
Through Feb 15

Nine immersive video & audio experience by nine Chinese media artists, each with a different theme, have been “zipped” together, and then “unzipped” into a richly imaginative field of collective consciousness. All of the works continuously break and rebuild the sense of time and space through synesthetic, multi-sensory provocations. Be transported through and immersed in multiple imagined universes. As trippy as it sounds.


Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection

New-York Historical Society 70 Central Park West at 77th Street
Free with museum admission ($20, $6/ages 5-13, free/ages 4 & under
50% off with this link)
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


Sonic Arcade: Shaping Space with Sound

Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) 2 Columbus Circle
FREE
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.


David Hockney

Metropolitan Museum Of Art 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
Free with museum admission (Pay-what-you-wish, suggested $25, free/ages 12 & under)
Through Feb 25

Feel the sunshine in British painter David Hockney’s colorful paintings of pools and jewel-toned landscapes. Include painting, drawing, photography, and video, early experiments with modernist abstraction and mid-career experiments with illusion and realism.


Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Terminal

New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex Grand Central Terminal
FREE
Through Feb 26

Watch models of the MTA’s vintage and current trains and subway cars travel deaprt from a miniature replica of Grand Central Terminal to Santa’s workshop at the North Pole in this small yet charming display full of delightful details. This year’s exhibition showcases Lionel Metro-North, Polar Express, and vintage subway train sets against a cityscape backdrop designed by Brooklyn-based artist Josh Cochran.


Mutations

High Line 14th Street Passage Tenth Avenue & West 14th Street
FREE
Through Mar 1

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 (and the paletas from the La Newyorkina stand at 17th street).
See-saw and play music with your feet in the interactive La Deliciosa Show by Radamés “Juni” Figueroa on 30th Street.


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.


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.


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.


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.


100 Gates Project

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


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.


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.


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.


Circle of Dance

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



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