Kid-Friendly Museums in Manhattan
9/11 Memorial Museum
180 Greenwich St.
The 9/11 Memorial Museum offers age-appropriate entry points into the history of the World Trade Center, 9/11, and its aftermath. On Saturdays, children can participate in drop-in activity stations tied to artifacts and themes. Special monthly programs Stories & Art and K9 for Kids invite children and their adult caregivers to hear stories with a theme tied to 9/11 and participate in an art project. All programs are free to ticketed Museum visitors. Please visit the website for more details.
Center for Architecture
536 LaGuardia Place, New York
The Center for Architecture promotes understanding and appreciation of architecture and design through educational programs for K-12 schools, families, and the general public. Learn more about the buildings and streetscapes that make up our city by visiting our free galleries with changing exhibitions on current topics in architecture, or by attending one of our hands-on design workshops. Programs include 2-hour weekend family workshops, birthday parties, summer and vacation design studios, field trips for school groups, and in-school residencies. Need-based scholarships are available for most programs. Learn more at cfafoundation.org.
The Children's Museum of Manhattan
The Tisch Building, 212 W. 83rd St.
A talking toilet teaches tots about their bodies! An alphabet-eating dragon introduces literacy! Visit the Children’s Museum of Manhattan today. With amazing exhibits, compelling programming, and engaging classes for children and families, there’s always something fun and interesting to do. Check out our holiday programming and, from now through Jan. 18, 2016, visit NYC & Me: A Little Bite of the Big Apple. Plan now to see America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far this February or schedule a rollicking birthday party. Call 212-721-1223 or visit cmom.org for more info.
Children's Museum of the Arts
103 Charlton St.
Children’s Museum of the Arts is a nonprofit arts facility that brings hands-on art programming to children throughout Manhattan. Our staff of teaching artists mentors young artists ages 10 months to 15 years through fun and advanced art projects. We offer after-school programs for children to develop art-making skills, WEE Arts classes to introduce art to children as young as 10 months, birthday parties, Art Colony Day Camps for school holidays, and community programs including group visits and inclusive classes for children with physical and developmental challenges.
1109 5th Ave.
From dancing with celebrated kindie performers at a live concert, to excavating ancient replicas in a simulated archaeological dig, to designing mixed-media artworks, families enjoy a wide range of programs at the Jewish Museum. On Sundays and select weekdays, families can participate in the Museum’s Drop-in Art Workshop, attend music and theater performances, and explore art exhibitions together. They can also visit Archaeology Zone, an interactive exhibition designed for children, as well as engage in holiday programs and specialized art workshops during winter vacation weeks. Visit the museum website for more information.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s programs for kids and families are designed to spark imagination, creativity, and lifelong connections with art. Drop-in programs such as Art Trek and Sunday Studio offer fun through looking, learning, and creating art together. Sign up for classes taught by educators and artists who use the entire museum as an expanded classroom. Get started with #MetKids, a new digital art feature made for, with, and by kids ages 7–12 that includes an interactive map, videos starring kid reporters, and more. Find it at metmuseum.org/metkids.
Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden
421 E. 61st St (between First and York avenues)
Travel back in time to an early 19th-century country resort where New Yorkers came for a day of fun and relaxation. Family-friendly tours highlight activities that were popular in the 1800s. Touch Collection baskets encourage children to role-play life during this time. In the Children’s Corner, young visitors can dress up in reproduction clothing for pretend play in a replica of the historic kitchen. Afterward, try out historic toys and games in the museum’s backyard garden. Upcoming family programs include Teddy Bear Tea and Washington’s Birthday Ball.
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
11 W. 53rd St.
Discover modern and contemporary art with your family at The Museum of Modern Art with programs and resources specially designed for families with kids ages 4-14. Spend time at free gallery talks, art workshops, and film screenings, or get creative at Art Lab, an interactive space. We offer free activity and audio guides, and free admission for kids 16 and younger. Visit moma.org/family or sign up for our Family Programs E-News at moma.org/enews. Looking to get creative at home? Download our free MoMA Art Lab app from the iTunes Store.
National Academy Museum & School
1083 Fifth Ave.
The National Academy Museum & School provides a double helping of creative, engaging programming this season. Discover the work of a renowned architect in Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie, through Jan. 10, 2016. Our school hosts half- and full-day art camps over the winter. Open to ages 5-17 and led by trained art educators and professional artists, camps offer courses in mixed media, digital photography, drawing, painting, and sculpture. For information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the National Academy School at 212-916-1908.
New York City Fire Museum
278 Spring St.
The New York City Fire Museum displays the evolution of firefighting from the bucket brigades of Peter Stuyvesant's New Amsterdam through the colorful history of volunteer firefighters to modern firefighting techniques and equipment. The museum also houses a memorial to the 343 members of the FDNY who made the supreme sacrifice on 9/11. Fire safety tours are available for groups.
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
Experience the wonder of trains and toys with our whimsical train exhibition and engaging family programs. Conductor Abe will be with us during our Historical Train Weekend Dec. 12 and 13. You’ll listen to tales of the rails Dec. 26-Jan. 3, 2016, and snack on goodies at our Train Car Brunch on Dec. 20. Our Train Hunt is available anytime families visit. Older kids can cook Dutch holiday treats, take a cartooning class, or join our Family Book Club.
South Street Seaport Museum
12 Fulton St.
Tall Ships! Real archeological artifacts! Sailing trips! Learn all about New York Harbor and its science and history with South Street Seaport Museum. Visit the South Street Seaport Museum with your family for Tall Ships Tours and gallery exhibitions. Periodic family programs offer hands-on workshops for school-aged children on everything from boat design to plankton studies, and fun educational sails on the Schooner Pioneer. MiniMates program for toddlers and preschoolers and their care-givers offers fun and relaxed learning in a creative environment with music, movement, art, science, and free play.
Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort St., New York
Close out 2015 at the Whitney! Bring your kids to the museum for special Saturday family programs that take place before public hours. In December, we will explore line, shape, color, and space in Frank Stella: A Retrospective. We recommend registering for tours and workshops in advance: Whitney Wees (ages 4-5), Sketching Tours (ages 6-10), and Family Fun (ages 6-10). We also offer drop-in Open Studio art-making workshops for families with kids of all ages that are free with museum admission.
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Kid-Friendly Museums in Queens
New York Hall of Science
47-01 111th St. (7 Train to 111th St.), Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
The New York Hall of Science is New York City’s only hands-on science and technology center with more than 450 interactive exhibits, Rocket Park Mini Golf, New York’s largest science playground, the new interactive wonderland of Connected Worlds, Design Lab, and plenty of year-round events! NYSCI also offers after-school science clubs with activities designed to enhance topics and skills students are learning in school. For more information, please visit nysci.org.
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Kid-Friendly Museums on Long Island
Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center
431 E. Main St., Riverhead
631-208-9200 xH20 (426)
This FINtastic destination features one of the largest all-living coral reef displays in this hemisphere, a 120,000-gallon shark tank, year-round sea lion shows, touch tanks, butterflies and bugs from around the world, plus more than 100 exhibits and interactive experiences, including Shark Dive, Penguin Encounter, and Pirate Snorkel. There are plenty of special events and activities available, such as family sleepovers, when visitors explore the aquarium after hours, then spend the night in front of one of the tanks. Check our website for full details. Open daily 10am-5pm (closed Christmas and Thanksgiving days).
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Kid-Friendly Museums in Fairfield County, CT
The Discovery Museum and Planetarium
4450 Park Ave., Bridgeport
A children’s science museum focusing on hands-on learning fun. Daily planetarium shows include One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure for children 6 and younger. Interactive exhibits include Dare to Discover challenges, Get Physical!, and Preschool Play Area. Simulated NASA space missions in Discovery’s Challenger Center—a mock space station and mission control with state-of-the-art technologies—for student, scout, and home-school groups. Education programs, demos, and learning labs are available. Hands-on summer programs, children’s weekend workshops, and school holiday specials. Scout badge courses, themed birthday parties, overnights, and museum and planetarium rentals for individual, corporate, or nonprofit groups.
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
170 Whitney Ave., New Haven
This family friendly museum houses 4 billion years of Earth history: specimens ranging from dinosaurs to diamonds, mummies to meteorites, prehistoric mammals to early man. Dominating the Great Hall are 150-million-year-old Brontosaurus and Stegosaurus skeletons. In the Discovery Room, meet bearded dragons Bindy and Matilda, and snakes Ringo and Cabot. See poison dart frogs, and watch leafcutter ants march through 25 feet of tunnel doing their business. Explore exhibits on Ancient Egypt, Earth and Space, Native American Cultures, and Connecticut Birds. Check our many events and festivals at peabody.yale.edu.
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Introducing Kids to Museums at Any Age
Main photo: The Challenger Learning Center at the Discovery Museum and Planetarium in Bridgeport, CT, features a mock space station and mission control simulation environment.