Help your kids understand the world around them at these cross-cultural museums in Manhattan.
Studio Museum in Harlem
144 W. 125th St., Harlem
Thursday-Friday, 12-9pm; Saturday, 10am-6pm; Sunday, 12-6pm
$7; $3 students and seniors; free for children ages 12 and younger and members
The Studio Museum in Harlem is devoted to the works of African-American artists from the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum hosts a number of free programs for families. During Target Free Sundays, admission is free and the museum organizes free programs and events. Books, Authors & Kids, a 1-hour program dedicated to storytelling, literacy, and visual art, provides families an opportunity to engage with some of their favorite children’s book authors and illustrators. Lil’ Studio invites preschool aged children to enjoy story time and art making.
Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Ave., at 103rd Street, East Harlem
$18; students and seniors: $12; free for children ages 19 and younger and members
This unique treasure is both a history and an art museum; its mission is to preserve and present the history of New York City and its people. Parents can utilize this museum to teach kids about every type of New Yorker there is since the exhibits and programs are always changing. In the past, the museum has presented exhibits or programming on Native-Americans, Hindu festivals, Muslims, and the LGBTQ community. Check its website for event dates and information.
American Museum of Natural History’s Human Origins and Cultural Halls
Central Park West, at 79th Street, Upper West Side
General admission: $23; $18 seniors and students; $13 children ages 2-12
While the entire museum is spectacular, the Human Origins and Cultural Halls are especially educational on cross-cultural themes. The Human Origins Hall uses fossil records and DNA research to present the history of human evolution as well as explore what is in store for our species in the future. The Cultural Halls examine the cultures of Asia, Africa, North and South Americas, and the Pacific. With thousands of artifacts on display, families might even want to visit here more than once. The museum also recently announced a major renovation of the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians set to be completed by 2020, the museum’s 150th anniversary. Additionally, the museum hosts a number of family-friendly cultural events, including a program called Celebrate Culture!, which attracts thousands of visitors for day-long, free programs such as live performances, hall tours, hands-on activities, and film screenings.
Museum of Jewish Heritage
36 Battery Place, Financial District
Sunday-Tuesday, 10am-6pm; Wednesday-Thursday: 10am-8pm; Friday, 10am-5pm
$12; $10 seniors; $7 students; free for children ages 12 and younger and members
New York City is home to more than 1 million Jews, and it’s important for kids to try to learn about such a large section of the population living around them. The museum’s building itself is a memorial to those who died in the Holocaust. At the front desk, visitors can receive a free family guide to the museum’s first floor containing engaging activities to help children of all backgrounds learn how to use artifacts to explore their own family’s heritage and traditions. Note that some parts of this museum, such as the second floor of the Core Exhibition, The War Against the Jews, contain sensitive material and the museum recommends deciding in advance whether children are prepared to encounter content of this nature. The museum hosts a number of family programs such as children’s book readings by Jewish authors.
Main image: The Lower East Side Tenement Museum offers interactive, kid-friendly programs in which guides dressed in period costumes tell an immigrant's story.
Courtesy Lower East Side Tenement Museum