By City Guide News Desk

Dahesh Celebrates Its Re-Opening

  |  Theater & Performances  

Before you announce to the kids you’re on the way to a museum, ask them if they’d like to hear a cool story about dinosaurs or go on a treasure hunt and take home their very own art project. Then subtly mention the location is a brand-new fun gallery with its own children’s space and fun stuff to buy in the shop. When you arrive at the newly opened Dahesh (rhymes with “Marakeesh”) Museum, at 580 Madison Avenue, between 56th and 57th Streets, you can then casually drop the word “museum”, and by this point, your kids won’t even care. The Dahesh Museum, long a quirky little space previously located at 601 Fifth Avenue, was always considered a unique haven devoted to educating the public, and supporting academicians fascinated by 19th and early 20th century art. It was one of those well-kept secret spots that art lovers and scholars visited regularly for a look at the 23 exhibitions that were offered inside the 1,800-square-foot museum. With its newly opened impressive space geared to a more egalitarian audience, families are not only welcomed, they are encouraged to bring their children for arts and crafts, story hours, and even lunch and afternoon tea. Every first Saturday of the month a gallery talk, dubbed "Weekend Walkabout", will be exclusively family and child-tailored. Education coordinator Dr. Jamie Johnson says it’s a thrill to have space to offer families a respite from the sometimes-intimidating behemoth art institutions. “We can’t wait to host New York City school children," she says. Instead of having ‘docents’ we offer art historians, who are young professionals and grad students trained to work with children.” The First Saturday programs will be informal, encouraging youngsters to ask questions, go “treasure-hunting” for animals in paintings, and create their own art projects. “For example, we’ll hunt for paintings with animals in them, and our ‘kid guide’ will have a bunch of gallery activities so children can engage in take-home art projects and other fun things,” Dr. Johnson says. The Dahesh, never before considered a “child friendly” environment, had a goal of breaking down that barrier, she explains. “We want families to look at art together, not just cater to business people in midtown. We’ll also have community relations with different schools in other boroughs,” Dr. Johnson says. The Museum is the only institution in the country devoted exclusively to collecting, exhibiting and interpreting works by Europe’s academically trained artists of the past two centuries. Highlights from the Museum’s collections are rotated throughout the year and complemented by major exhibitions. This unusual art museum offers a unique spin on traditional art collections seen in the Met or Guggenheim. European academics stressed the importance of classical training, which many modernists eventually rebelled against — something your kids undoubtedly will appreciate when the knowledgeable art historians on premises explain it. Info: Where: 580 Madison Avenue, between 56th and 57th Streets Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-6 pm; closed Mondays and federal holidays; open until 9pm the first Thursday of every month. Admission: $9 adults, $4 seniors and students, children under age 12 free. The Weekend Walkabout is free with paid admission. Notes: The Museum is accessible to visitors with special needs. Large-type label copy, sign language interpretation, sound amplification and specifically designed tours for the visually impaired are available by request with advance notice. More info: (212) 759-0606; — Naomi Serviss