* Take advantage of pay-what-you-wish hours and free admission to many 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.
* If your wee one has trouble not touching the art (looking at you toddlers), the American Museum of Natural History, Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM), Children’s Museum of the Arts (CMA), Jewish Museum, MoMA, MoMath and National Museum of the American Indian all have awesome hands-on opportunities.
*See our instagram for photographic inspiration.
The cozy, always free American Folk Art Museum features rotating family-friendly exhibits featuring Americana art that often includes engaging colors, patterns and animals.
Family Programs: The first Saturday of every month, Families and Folk Art introduces children ages 4 to 12 to folk art through interactive and discussion-based tours in the galleries followed by hands-on artmaking activities inspired by objects in the museum. Polite listeners of all ages can enjoy free jazz guitar on Wednesdays 2 - 3 pm and diverse folk musicians Fridays 5:30 - 7:30.
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.
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).
•Unseen Oceans (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.
•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.
Founded in 1899 as the world’s first children’s museum, this family-focused institution provides cultural experiences for children and families in visual arts, music and performance, natural science, and world cultures.
•TapeScape (through Jan 31)
Explore an interactive art installation made from unexpected everyday materials. Built in collaboration with artist Eric Lennartson, this tape universe sparks the imagination and encourages curiosity, creativity, and gross motor play.
•World Brooklyn (through Dec 31)
Play in kid-sized shops based on the real ones you find in neighborhoods across Brooklyn. Be a shopkeeper, baker, grocer, shopper, designer, performer, and builder in diverse communities. We really liked serving Italian pizza and assembling African style chairs.
A slightly hipper version of the Met features a huge, diverse permanent collection categorized by culture, as well as thoughtful visiting exhibitions from all over the world. On the edge of Prospect Park and next to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden ($25 combo passes available).
212 West 83rd Street between Broadway & Amsterdam (Upper West Side)
Sunday–Friday 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday 10 am – 7 pm
$11, $7/seniors, free/ages 11 months old & younger
The enchanting Children’s Museum of Manhattan has interactive, educational exhibits and lots of kids programming and performances.
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.
•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 as an art form, as an expression of diverse cultures and traditions, and as a healthy physical activity. Interact with an immersive video projection dome dance portal to learn 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, props and costumes. Experiment with authentic percussion...
•Art, Artists & You (through Dec 31)
In a dynamic, hands-on environment, watch, follow, collaborate with, and take inspiration from working contemporary artists in studio workspaces. Explore the work of a diverse set of artists who work with materials and techniques such as assemblage/collage, fiber arts, technology/new media and paper.
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.
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
•Art & Activism: Drawing the Line (through Oct 28)
Explore art as a form of activism and consider different aesthetic strategies that artists have used to address the politically urgent questions of their time. See works about protest and rethink conventions of gender, sexuality, immigration and race in a completely kid-friendly environment.
This collection of historic and contemporary design is a high-tech, interactive dream for all ages. Explore innovative design through the centuries, play designer on high resolution touchscreen tables with very cool electronic ‘pens,’ and rock around in the Spun chairs in the basement.
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.
•The Senses: Design Beyond Vision (through Oct 28)
Explore experimental works and practical solutions designed to inspire wonder and new ways of accessing our world. Wander through a scented snowstorm, play a furry instrument in a Tactile Orchestra, investigate the sonic properties of glass, and experience many more multisensory experiences from some of the world’s most creative thinker. Designed to be an accessible experience welcoming to visitors of all abilities.
•Scholten & Baijings: Lessons from the Studio (through Nov 28)
An interactive installation in the museum’s Process Lab, Scholten & Baijings: Lessons from the Studio invites visitors to Explore the experimental design process of the award-winning contemporary industrial design studio Scholten & Baijings. See and touch their create tableware, furniture, and textiles and perform experiments with color at two interactive stations.
•Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color (through Jan 13)
Rainbow lovers can explore the elusive, complex phenomenon of color perception and how it has captivated artists, designers, scientists, and sages. Featuring over 190 objects spanning antiquity to the present from, the exhibition reveals how designers apply the theories of the world’s greatest color thinkers to bring order and excitement to the visual world.
This lively museum focuses on the art and culture of Puerto Ricans and all Latin Americans in the United States.
Family Programs: Super Sabados on the third Saturday of every month feature free art-making workshops, storytelling, concerts, and more. The first Wednesday of every month, 1-4 year olds can participate in Coqui Club storytime and art-making.
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.
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.
•Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future (through Apr 23)
This survey of Hilma af Klint’s colorful work will be the first major solo exhibition in the United States of af Klint’s long-underrecognized artistic achievements. In the artist’s breakthrough years, 1906–20, when she first began to produce nonobjective and stunningly imaginative paintings generated in part through af Klint’s spiritualist practice as a medium, she created strikingly diverse works, incorporating both biomorphic and geometric forms, expansive and intimate scales, and maximalist and reductivist approaches to composition and color. She imagined installing these works in a spiral temple, though this plan never came to fruition (until now?).
This multi-disciplinary cultural complex draws its identity from its gorgeous site on the banks of the Hudson River. See diverse art, tour a historic mansion, learn about the environment in a hands-on gallery and watch a space show in the Planetarium.
•Maya Lin: A River Is a Drawing (through Jan 20)
Walk through more than 200 bamboo reeds in the form of a 3D drawing of the Hudson River basin in an exhibition developed in close collaboration between Presidential Medal of Freedom reciptient Maya Lin and the Hudson River Museum focuses on the theme of the Hudson River. New works and ambitious site-specific installations referencing the Museum’s architectural features and location along the banks of the river invite visitors to interact.
NYC’s largest museum is also one of the most welcoming to young visitors. Explore a vast collection that spans millennia and continents. You might get lost searching for iconic favorites in the grand halls and you’ll definitely discover fascinating art that appeals all ages. Check out the awesome family guides & maps.
Favorite Spots: Where do we start? Walk like an Egyptian inside the Temple of Dendur and say hello to nearby crocodile and feline statues. Admire enchanting sculptures, fountains and Central Park in the American Wing Courtyard. Compare the chain mail of European knights on horseback with elaborate Japanese samurai gear in Arms and Armor. Be amused and frightened by the oversized carvings of realistic and fantastical creatures in Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. The Van Goghs, Monets and Degas in 19th- And Early 20th-Century European Paintings And Sculptures are a must for all ages. Wander around and be surprised and delighted as your kid finds his or her own favorites.
Family Programs: We are huge fans of the free Start with Art at the Met & Art Trek programs for ages 3 to 11, hour-long guided walks and art activities.
•The Met Roof Garden: Huma Bhabha’s We Come In Peace (through Oct 28)
Two haunting monumental sculptures of intriguing figures by Pakistani-born artist Huma Bhabha are now on the roof of the Met. The commentary on colonialism, war and displacement is thought-provoking and the view of Central Park stunning. Snacks allowed (and available for purchase - we like the popcorn).
MoMA PS1, one oldest and largest nonprofit contemporary art institutions in the United States, is an exhibition space rather than a collecting institution. MoMA PS1 devotes its energy and resources to displaying the most experimental art in the world.
•James Turrell: Meeting (through Dec 31)
One of artist James Turrell’s celebrated Skyspaces, thsa site-specific installation that invites viewers to gaze upwards toward an unobstructed view of the sky with a multi-colored lighting program synchronized with the sunrise and sunset.
Explore contemporary and historic innovation in craft, art, and design in a lovely setting overlooking Central Park.
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.
•Lexy Ho-Tai: Kookerville (through Nov 5)
Play in 'Kookerville,' an imagined world featuring Lexy Ho-Tai's mixed-media artworks and soft sculptures crafted from found and recycled materials, exploring the intersection between craft and play. Meet brightly colored creatures called Kookers, constructed with detachable parts such as instruments and masks to encourage public participation. The creatures’ large scale, bright colors, and whimsical demeanor spark spontaneous moments of human connection and social disruption through play and absurdity.
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.
Favorite Spots: * Van Gogh's Starry Night, Henri Rousseau's The Dream and Matisse's Dance are just a few of the blockbuster masterpieces on the must-see fifth floor.
* Look out for an actual helicopter in the stairwell.
* The free-admission lobby facing West 53rd Street is a great place to chill by a giant Sol LeWitt rainbow mural.
Family Programs: Engaging, free Family Gallery Talks for ages 4 to 16 are held on most Saturday and Sunday mornings during the school year. 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.
•The Long Run (through Nov 4)
This diverse collection of the continued experimentation of artists long after their breakthrough moments includes blokbuster painting, sculptures, video art and more by Louise Bourgeois, Gego, Joan Jonas, Ellsworth Kelly, Georgia O’Keeffe, Frank Stella, and many others. Check out the kids audio guide, which we got to be part of making - listen for some familiar voices.
•MoMA Art Lab: Nature (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.
•Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980 (through Jan 1)
Explore the exceptional work of socialist Yugoslavia’s leading architects featuring modernist architecture and forward-thinking contributions still resonate today. Includes more than 400 drawings, models, photographs, and film reels and the sculptural interior of the White Mosque in rural Bosnia, the post-earthquake reconstruction of the city of Skopje based on Kenzo Tange’s Metabolist design, the new town of New Belgrade, with its expressive large-scale housing blocks and civic buildings, and other exciting designs.
•Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams (through Jan 1)
Explore visionary artist Bodys Isek Kingelez's vibrant, ambitious sculptures created from an incredible range of everyday materials and found objects—colored paper, commercial packaging, plastic, soda cans, and bottle caps—all meticulously repurposed and arranged into imagined buildings and cities that reflected dreams for his country (then-Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo), his continent, and the world.
•Constantin Brancusi Sculpture (through Feb 18)
See 11 beguiling simple sculptures by Constantin Brancusi, shown together for the first time, alongside drawings, photographs, and films. Guess what animals he's evoking with his bold geometric forms or make up your own interpretation. Check out the accompanying playlist from Brancusi's extensive record collection.
•If Everything Is Sculpture Why Make Sculpture? (through Sep 30)
See what frozen things do in a summer in this Peter Fischli’s Artist’s Choice in MoMA's Sculpture Garden which features an actual snowman (encased in a glass-door freezer), a white dome that subtly moves, giant geometric forms perfect for hide-and-seek and other cool stuff posing the questions “If everything is sculpture why make sculpture?” Yummy housemade ice cream available by the Parisian Metro Station entrance. Create and cool off in the engaging MoMA Art Lab: Nature nearby.
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.
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.
•Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs (through Oct 28)
See Stanley Kubrick photos of NYC for pictorial magazine Look and explore a formative phase in the career of one of the 20th century’s most renowned motion picture directors.
•New York at Its Core (through Dec 31)
Follow the story of NYC's rise from a striving Dutch village to today’s “Capital of the World,” and consider its future in a changing world through more than 400 objects as well as interactive digital experiences. Framed around the key themes of money, density, diversity, and creativity, New York City’s history comes alive through the stories of innovation, energy, struggle, and the vision of generations of immigrants, politicians, tycoons, dreamers, master builders, and ordinary New Yorkers.
•Rebel Women: Defying Victorianism (through Jan 6)
Explores the lives of female 19th century activists in NYC through photographs, garments, paintings, and prints. Learn about Elizabeth Jennings Graham, an African-American New Yorker who refused to get off a segregated trolley; professionals like Hetty Green, a wealthy businesswoman and broker branded "the witch of Wall Street"; and working women like Helen Jewett, New York's most prominent courtesan—all of whom challenged the Victorian ideal.
36-01 35 Avenue (at 37 Street) (Queens)
Wednesday–Thursday 10:30 am–5:00 pm
Friday 10:30 am–8:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday 10:30 am–6:00 pm
$15, $9/students & seniors, $7/ages 3-12, free/2 and under
Explore film, TV and video games from nineteenth century optical toys to the latest in digital art with lots of hand-on exhibits in a spacious, modern building.
Favorite Spots: Play classic arcade games and see Star Wars paraphernalia (including a Chewbacca mask used in filming) on the second floor.
Family Programs: See classics on the big screen and learn about filmmaking at family matinees & workshops held most weekends and during school vacations.
•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...
Dynamic exhibits and programs stimulate inquiry, spark curiosity, and reveal the wonders of mathematics. Learn about the math in patterns and structures all around us – and try to ride a bike with square wheels.
All ages can learn about the culture and contributions of Native Americans at the engaging New York branch of this DC museum. Lots of opportunities for hands-on exploration in multiple rooms. Touch a buffalo hide, match animal drawings, learn about Mayan math, play in a teepee and more.
Pick up a fantastic family guide and find featured items among the galleries including wood and stone carvings, exquisite clothing, feather bonnets and lots of animal representations.
Family Programs: Every Monday 2–4 pm, learn more about the Taíno Indians, the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean through cultural materials and live demonstrations in the galleries.
•Transformer: Native Art in Light and Sound (through Jan 6)
Ten artists use light, digital projection, and experimental media to reflect on their place in and between traditional and dominant cultures. Through innovative sound art, digital media, and installation, the exhibition demonstrates the continuity of Indigenous cultures and creativity in the digital age.
•Circle of Dance (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.
Always something interesting to see – or interact with – in the rotating exhibits at Manhattan’s only dedicated contemporary art museum.
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.
•Asli Çavusoglu: The Place of Stone (through Jan 13)
Turkish artist Asli Çavusoglus' research-driven practice takes up questions of history and belief by examining objects, images, and cultural symbols that have endured over time. For her New Museum exhibition and residency, Çavusogluwill expand her ongoing research into the origins and trade history of lapis lazuli, a blue stone exported primarily from Afghan mines since the seventh century BC. The artist will create a fresco that traces the history of the color blue across centuries and diverse geographies—from Central Asia to Africa to Europe—following its transitions and shifting associations, which span the sacred, the political, and the emotional.
The oldest continually operating aquarium in the US (opened 1896. moved to the Coney Island boardwalk in 1957) is building back from the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy with exciting new exhibitions like the spectacular Ocean Wonders: Sharks!
•Ocean Wonders: Sharks! (through Dec 31)
See over 115 marine species including 18 different kinds of sharks and rays in an new immersive exhibition with hands-on educational features (though the sharks are safely behind glass).
The Holiday Train Show is an annual must, and the sprawling grounds of this 124-year-old Bronx institution are a gorgeous respite from urban living all year round.
Favorite Spots: Enjoy music, mazes, guided nature explorations and more in the delightful Everett Children's Adventure Garden.
•Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawaii (through Oct 28)
Pretend you're in Hawai‘i at this exhibit of 17 paintings by American artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s created on commission for a Hawaiian Pineapple Company promotional campaign plus lush Hawaiian flora in the Conservatory. Visit the Children's Garden to create art inspired by O’Keeffe’s unique style of representing close-up views of flowers and fruit. Also play in a Hawaiian sand table featuring real shell and rock specimens to uncover. Pot up a tropical ginger cutting to take home. On weekends, see hula and native artisan demonstrations. Moana costume optional.
•Spooky Pumpkin Garden (through Oct 31)
Explore more than 100 pumpkin-headed scarecrows set among giant and unusual pumpkins and gourds in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden. Put on a festive fall puppet show and have a spooky tea party in the Victorian playhouse. Guided activities on afternoons and weekends include potting up a spooky spider plant or investigating creepy crawlers in the pond and soil. Take a tropical break from fall in the gorgeous Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawaii exhibition.
Founded at the 1964–65 World’s Fair, this center for interactive science features lots of fun hands-on learning opportunities, intriguing exhibits, awesome 4D films, an engineering-themed outdoor playground and interesting family programs that make it worth the trip to Queens.
•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...
Housed underground in an authentic 1936 subway station in Downtown Brooklyn, this toddler’s dream hosts a working platform level spanning a full city block and a rotating selection of twenty vintage subway and elevated cars dating back to 1907. Board vintage cars, sit at the wheel of a city bus, step through a time tunnel of turnstiles, and explore changing exhibits that highlight the cultural, social and technological history – and future – of mass transit.
•On the Streets: New York’s Trolleys and Buses (through Dec 31)
Learn about ground mobility and surface transit from the early 1800s to the present by exploring a real life city bus, “fishbowl” bus cab, walk-don’t walk signs, parking meters, fire hydrants, traffic lights, and an array of other interactive "street furniture."
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.
Favorite Spots: Ride an orphan train or play a newsies video game in the awesome hands-onDiMenna Children's History Museum then browse books about NYC in the intimate library. 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. Don't miss the digital design-your-own Tiffany lamp on the gorgeous fourth floor.
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.
•Harry Potter: A History of Magic (through Jan 27)
Timed tickets on sale now for a exhibition opening October 5 that features century-old treasures including rare books, manuscripts, and magical objects from the collections of the British Library and New-York Historical Society that capture the traditions of folklore and magic at the heart of the Harry Potter stories plus original material from Harry Potter publisher Scholastic and J.K. Rowling’s own archives. Explore the subjects studied at Hogwarts, from medieval descriptions of dragons and griffins to the origins of the sorcerer’s stone, and see original drafts and drawings by J.K. Rowling and illustrator Jim Kay as well as costumes and...
•Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow (through Mar 3)
Explore the struggle for full citizenship and racial equality from the end of the Civil War to the end of World War I and the central role played by African Americans in advocating for their rights through art, artifacts, media and photographs, including striking portraits that engage all ages.
Note: Don’t visit The Frick or Neue Galerie with kids, they’re not allowed inside.