Culture Club: NYC Museum Shows for Kids

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Looking for some fun and stimulating things to do with the kids this spring? There’s a lot to explore at the city’s museums as we emerge from quasi-hibernation. We’ve rounded up our favorites here, including shows just for little ones, the return of The Orchid Show, works by Andy Warhol and an immersive, out-of-this world experience at one of NYC’s newest art spaces.

Liberty Science Center

Wobbly World & Paw Patrol: Adventure Play at the Liberty Science Center 

There's a new space for kids five and under that all of you are going to love. Wobbly World is a bright, inviting, slightly off-kilter wonderland,  where young children are invited to explore balance, motion, and cause and effect. Highlights include a giant Body Mobile: part carousel, part Calder-style mobile, and powered by play. As young guests hop on colorful seats and surfaces that dangle from the 14-foot-tall center column, they balance, spin, and bring the whole structure to life. The Balancescape, a fanciful landscape of hills and ledges helps kids explore balance and agility, and a whimsical collection of oversized blocks invite grabbing, sorting, stacking and more LSC collaborated with renowned toy designer Cas Holman on this new exhibition. 

Also on view: Paw Patrol, through May 1.

Tickets: $27.99/adults, $22.99/children 2-12 (these are advanced ticket prices, at the door is $2 more.)
Liberty Science Center
Liberty State Park
222 Jersey City Blvd. 
Jersey City, NJ
201- 200-1000
Online: lsc.org

NYBG/ Marlon Co

The Orchid Show: Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope

Needing a hit of floral beauty to fend off the winter blues? Head to the New York Botanic Garden to see the dazzling floral creations of Jeff Leatham, famed artistic director of the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris and floral designer to the stars. Marking the return of The Orchid Show for the 19th year Leatham's bold and colorful living installations and designs transform the historic Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. See stunning orchid towers of orange, yellow, and green, undulating fields of white, and overhead plumes of purple, together with artistic embellishments and a kaleidoscopic tunnel of lights, will enthrall visitors.

Originally debuted in 2020, The Orchid Show: Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope was on track to be NYBG’s most popular Orchid Show yet. Now's your chance to catch it! 

February 26 -May 1
Tickets: $30/adults; $28/students & seniors; 2-12/$15, 2 and under/free
Enid A. Haupt Conservatory
The New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Blvd.
Bronx
718-817-8700
Online:  nybg.org

Metropolitan Museum of Art

In America: An Anthology of Fashion

The Met's Costume Institute unveils part two of its show dedicated to American fashion, In America: An Anthology of Fashion in May. (Part one, In America: A Lexicon of Fashion remains on view through September 5.) The new exhibition will feature approximately 100 examples of men’s and women’s dress dating from the 19th to the mid-late 20th century. The garments will be presented in The Met's American Wing period rooms, or historical interiors, which encapsulate a curated survey of more than a century of American domestic life and reveal a variety of stories—from the personal to the political, the stylistic to the cultural, and the aesthetic to the ideological. 

As part of the show, eight film directors will create fictional cinematic vignettes, or “freeze frames,” within each room, imparting new perspectives on American fashion and highlighting the directors’ singular aesthetics. Directors participating include Martin Scorsese, Chloé Zhao, Regina King, Tom Ford and Sophia Coppola.

Opens May 2
1000 Fifth Ave. 
Upper East Side 
212-535-7710
Online: metmuseum.org

Nicholas Knight

Tomás Saraceno: Particular Matter(s)

We kind of doubt you've ever seen anything quite like this. Tomás Saraceno: Particular Matter(s) is described as "a large-scale exhibition and sensory experience with spiderwebs, air, and the cosmic web." Staged at the Hudson Yards art and gallery space The Shed, the exhibit features an expansive gallery exhibition as well as a newly commissioned sensory experience, Free the Air: How to hear the universe in a spider/web, a 95-foot-diameter installation in The Shed’s soaring McCourt space. You get to choose which part or parts of the exhibit you'd like to experience, with ticket prices adjusted accordingly. Note that you must be age 8 or older to experience Free the Air, and that it involves walking on a metal web—either 12- or 40-feet in the air, in low light with haze effects. Sound too much? You can get tickets for just the Gallery portion, but note that that can be very low light in places as well. This is the largest exhibition of Saraceno's work in the U.S. to date. Tickets are timed, released in batches, and must be booked in advance.

Feb. 11-April 17
Tickets: Gallery only: $12/adults; free/18 and under; Free the Air: $35/adults; $12/ages 8-18
545 W. 30th
Hudson Yards
718-941-1424
Online: theshed.org

AMNH

Sharks at the American Museum of Natural History 

See these creatures like you never have before: up close and personal.  (And really big!) Sharks features 30 life-size models that range from 33 feet to the size of the palm of your hand. Your kids will learn about their evolutionary history, anatomy, habitats, diets, and how to keep them safe for future generations to study and enjoy.

Through August 14, 2022

Tickets: (includes general admission plus one special exhibit) $28/adults, $16.50/children, $22.50/seniors & students, free/2 and under
American Museum of Natural History 
200 Central Park West
212-769-5100
Online: amnh.org

Wings Over Water Crew

Wings Over Water at AMNH

On the big (very big) screen at AMNH is Wings Over Water is a new giant-screen film epic that follows the journeys of three amazing bird families. See extraordinary footage of the fascinating behaviors of Sandhill Crane, the Yellow Warbler, and the Mallard Duck as they defy all odds and soar across mountains, deserts, cities, and forests, heading home to raise their young. Award-winning actor Michael Keaton narrates the film. 

Tickets: (includes general admission plus one special exhibit) $28/adults, $16.50/children, $22.50/seniors & students, free/2 and under
American Museum of Natural History 
200 Central Park West
Upper West Side 
212-769-5100
Online: amnh.org

MOFAD

African/American: Making the Nation’s Table at Museum of Food and Drink

The Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) presents African/American: Making the Nation’s Table. Displayed within the newly-constructed home of partner The Africa Center at Aliko Dangote Hall, this first-of-its-kind exhibition celebrates the countless contributions of Black chefs, farmers, and food and drink producers who have laid the foundation for American food culture. Highlights include the Legacy Quilt, which depicts, a selection of hundreds of stories; those who wish can contribute their own stories via an online interactive component. Also on display is the Ebony Magazine Test Kitchen—saved from wreckage thanks to preservationists Landmarks Illinois and accessible to the public for the first time in history. Described by The Chicago Tribune as “the most distinctive test kitchen ever created,” it was the site where recipes from Ebony food editors created dishes such as oyster gumbo to sweet potato pudding. The multisensory experience features a soundtrack curated by musician, farmer and chef Kelis, and video interviews with former Ebony food editors.

Opens Feb. 23
Wed-Sun., 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
1280 5th Ave. 
East Harlem
201-371-3550
Online: mofad.org

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

It's a great time to visit The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, as it's celebrating 40 years in 2022. February also brings Kids Week (Feb. 19-26), The Museum’s annual fun-filled festival of daily activities in which kids of all ages can explore space, science, technology and the arts.  Also in February: NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover and Ingenuity Helicopter models are on display in the Space Shuttle Pavilion.

Climb aboard this real aircraft carrier parked on the west side in Midtown and explore its interior, then check out the supersonic airliner Concorde, the space shuttle Enterprise, and Growler, the only American diesel-powered guided missile submarine open to the public. The Museum’s renowned collection also features 28 historic aircraft, such as a Lockheed A-12, the world’s fastest military jet and spy plane; a WWII-era Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber, and a soon to be unveiled Douglas F4D Skyray that flew off of Intrepid.

To get even more out of your visit, use the museum's Interactive Mobile Guide, which allows guests to scan QR codes on exhibits for more info. Entrance is by timed tickets—buy them here—and the museum is now open seven days a week, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Tickets: $33/adults; $31/seniors, $24/ages 5-12
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Pier 86
West 46th St. & 12th Ave.
Midtown Manhattan
212-245-0072
Online: intrepidmuseum.org

The Happiness Experiment at the New York Hall of Science

This exhibit was open for just seven weeks before Hurricane Ida caused serious damage causing NYSCI to close. As of February 19 (after some major cleanup), the museum, and The Happiness Experiment is open again! The exhibit helps children (and grownups) learn how happiness is translated from the external world into their minds and out of their personalities through neuroscience. Visitors will learn good habits on maintaining happiness—and how to interact with others when feeling out of sorts. The show also stresses that happiness is just one emotion that we experience and that it’s ok to not be happy all of the time. What's important is to learn how to verbalize hurt, disappointment or sadness, while also respecting others.

Open Fri., 2-5 p.m., Sat. & Sun.,  10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Tickets: $25/adult. $20/children
New York Hall of Science
47-01 111th St., Queens
718-699-0005
Online: nysci.org

Andy Warhol: Revelation

This show presents Andy Warhol in a less familiar light than many are used to, looking at his Byzantine Catholic upbringing, and its profound impact on his life and work. From iconic portraits of celebrities to appropriated Renaissance masterpieces, Warhol played with styles and symbolism from Catholic art history, carefully reframing them within the context of Pop art and culture. Throughout his life, Warhol retained some of his Catholic rituals, while also unapologetically living as an out gay man. Among the more than 100 objects on view are rare source materials and newly discovered items that provide a fresh and intimate look at Warhol's creative process, as well as major paintings from his epic Last Supper series (1986), the experimental film The Chelsea Girls (1966). Advance ticket purchase required for timed entry. 

Closed Mon. & Tues. 
Through June 19
The Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Pkwy
Crown Heights 
718-638-5000
Online: brooklynmuseum.org

NYPL

The largest branch of the New York Public Library has opened a new and exciting permanent exhibit called, Treasures: The Polonsky Exhibit. Here you will find 250 pieces from historical artifacts to pop culture. Some of the items on display include thousands-year-old Iraqi cuneiform tablets, the stuffed animals owned by the real-life Christopher Robbin that inspired the children’s book, “Winnie the Pooh,”  the Declaration of Independence with John Hancock’s famous signature, and so much more. The collection is expansive and includes at least a few things that will blow the kids' (and your) mind! Bring headphones to listen to the Audio Guide!

*Tickets are free, but you must reserve a timed-entry ticket in advance. Masks are required. 

Permanent exhibit
Tickets: Free, registration required
NYPL: Stephen Schwartzman Building
476 Fifth Ave. 
Midtown
917-275-6975
Online: nypl.org

See It Before It Goes!

Greater New York at MoMA: PS1

PS1 is the contemporary art annex of the famous MoMA and lives inside a former elementary school. Navigating the staircase is sure to be familiar for children and adults alike. Greater New York, focuses specifically on the art history of New York City. Featuring 47 artists whose works reflect their community and what New York means to them, this exhibit reflects the city as it emerges from a shut-down which left institutions with a very uncertain future. With a range of mediums and bright colors, this exhibit is a treat for the eyes.
 
Through April 18, 2022
Closed Tues. & Wed.
22-25 Jackson Ave. 
Long Island City
Queens
718-784-2084
Online: moma.org

 

Asya Gorovits/MCNY

Puppets of New York at the Museum of the City of New York 

The puppets take Manhattan at the Museum of the City of New York's latest exhibit. This delightful show explores the history of puppetry in New York City which dates back to the 1800s, with a look at the different kinds of puppets, from sock to shadow to rod. Familiar favorites on view include Howdy Doody, Oscar the Grouch and Lambchop & Friends, as well as lesser-known characters like the giant head of salsa legend, Hector Lavoe and the John Cusack string puppet from Being John Malkovich.

On view through April 2022
Tickets: $20/adults, Free/20 and under
Museum of the City of New York 
1220 Fifth Ave.
East Harlem
212-534-1672
Online: mcny.org

A-MAZE-D at The Brooklyn Children's Museum

This popular kids museum is currently open on weekends, select holidays, and Thursdays from 2-5 p.m., when entry is pay what you wish. (You still need to make a reservation.) Popular longstanding exhibits include World Brooklyn, Neighborhood Nature, Totally Tots, Collections Central and The Nest. Admission includes access to the ColorLab art studio, where families have the opportunity to explore printmaking, collage and sculpture projects inspired by artists such as Elizabeth Catlett, Richard Hunt, Faith Ringgold and Kehinde Wiley, among others. You must make a timed reservation for a three-hour visit. Do that here.

Visiting for a limited time is A-MAZE-D, a maze created from corrugated cardboard boxes that transforms the museum's second-floor Exhibit Gallery into a twisting and turning adventure made up of winding corridors and tunnels. It's a full-body experience for visitors of all ages, with special areas designated for the smallest visitors. A painted cityscape sets the backdrop for the built environment, with visitors seeing NYC landmarks at every turn. The exhibit is created in partnership with artist and puzzlemaker Dave Phillips.

Sat. & Sun. and select holidays.; Thursdays, 2-5 p.m., pay what you wish
Tickets: $13
145 Brooklyn Ave. 
Crown Heights
718-735-4400
Online: brooklynkids.org

Rubin Museum

Mandala Lab at the Rubin Museum

Unlike other museums, this exhibit is meant to turn the focus on the viewer. It guides visitors through meditative practices and encourages them to dig deep and get in touch with their emotions. The exhibit provides activities to teach one how to channel any negative feelings through positive outlets in order to encourage personal growth and wisdom. Mandalas are meant to provide a point of focus so one can free themselves of the thoughts of daily life. There are also meditation rooms and spiritual gongs partly submerged in water to help center the mind. Advance reservation is required. 

Tickets: $19/adults; $14/students; free/kids 12 and under, and Fridays, 6-10 p.m.
Closed, Mon.-Wed. 
150 W. 17th St. 
Chelsea
212-620-5000
Online: rubinmuseum.org

ONGOING

D. Finnin/© AMNH

The Halls of Gems and Minerals at the American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History is a favorite of both kids and adults, and one of the museum's most popular and beloved spaces, the Hall of Gems has been completely redesigned and reinstalled, and is now the Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals.

The 11,000-square-foot hall showcases one of the greatest collections of its kind. Dazzling gems on view include the legendary 563-carat Star of India sapphire, the 632-carat Patricia Emerald, and the 110-carat diamond Organdie necklace designed by Michelle Ong for Carnet. Plus new specimens including a pair of towering, sparkling amethyst geodes that are among the world’s largest on display, a slice of a 35-million-year-old metasequoia—a petrified dawn redwood from the Cascade Mountains—the 9-pound almandine Subway Garnet discovered under Manhattan’s 35th Street in 1885, and the Tarugo, a 3-foot-tall cranberry-colored elbaite tourmaline that is one of the largest intact mineral crystal clusters ever found. Wow! Maybe the best news of all? It's included in the General Admission price to the museum, and is on permanent view!

American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
Upper West Side
212-769-5100
Online: amnh.org

New York City Transit Museum

The New York Transit Museum

Set in an actual decommissioned train station with a functioning platform, you’ll see trains and turn-styles of bygone eras and unlike other museums, the NYTM encourages their young visitors to not only touch, but also to play. With several vintage train cars and buses, your child can get in the driver’s seat and be the conductor or choose to enjoy the ride through many decades!  

New York Transit Museum
Tickets: $10/adults, $5/children & seniors
99 Schermerhorn St.
718-694-1600
Online: nytransitmuseum.org

The Muppets Studio LLC

The Jim Henson Exhibition

This incredible retrospective of master puppeteer and creator Jim Henson at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens is open again after a long Covid-19 pause. (The Museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.)

Reserved-time tickets are on sale now. Get yours here!

Museum of the Moving Image
36-01 35th Ave.
Astoria
718-777-6888
Online: movingimage.us

CMOM

Children's Museum of Manhattan

The Children's Museum of Manhattan is open with lots of safety precautions in place to keep everyone healthy, including routine sanitizing, temperature checks, reduced capacity, masks and social distancing. 

Visits to the museum are capped at two hours, and must be booked in advance. During that time, your family can explore all the exhibits at the museum, and take part in educator-led activities such as storytime, an art scavenger hunt, themed art projects and music and dance-time. 

The museum is open 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Wednesday - Sunday. 

Tickets: $15/kids and adults; $12/seniors, free/infants and members  
Children’s Museum of Manhattan
212 W. 83rd St.
Upper West Side
212-721-1223
Online: www.cmom.org

Museum of Ice Cream NYC

The Museum of Ice Cream

Yes, the Museum of Ice Cream is open! An immersive walk-through experience dedicated to the sweet treat, the MOIC opened a permanent NYC flagship in December of 2019, but shut down in March. It's back, and COVID-19 precautions are in place, and include a new ventilation system, mask and glove requirements, deep cleanings at the beginning and end of every day, cleaning surfaces following any touching by visitors, capacity reduction, etc. You can read all safety measures here.

You must reserve tickets in advance, and the museum is open Thursday through Sunday now. 

The Museum of Ice Cream
558 Broadway
SoHo
Online: museumoficecream.com

Sloomoo Institute

Sloomoo Institute

If you missed your chance to visit this shrine to slime when it opened last year, you have another chance. It's slightly altered (people play with their own slimes, not a collective vat, as was done previously), and you get to take slime home. Expect artisanal, scented slime, interactive activities, a massive DIY slime bar, slime experiments, an immersive ASMR tunnel, a lake of slime to walk on, and more. Advanced tickets are timed, masks are required, staff is in masks and gloves, and capacity is reduced. Dress in your get messy clothes and prepare to open your wallet: it's $39 a ticket. A percentage of sales goes to mental health charities.  

Sloomoo Institute 
475 Broadway
Soho
1-888-718-4253
Online: sloomooinstitute.com

Museum of Illusions

Museum of Illusions

Created in Zagreb, Croatia (with additional outposts in Vienna, Kuala Lumpur, and beyond) the museum is both educational and a spot for fun photo ops. Visitors can explore more than 70 elements and experiences that include "illusionistic rooms", optical illusions, and puzzles. Every "piece" in the museum is accompanied by a clear and concise explanation of what is causing or creating the illusion; mathematical, biological, and psychological concepts are all touched upon, as are perception, vision, and how the human brain works. This museum is an outstanding (and very fun) way to engage kids with complex scientific principles, and help them understand through experience. The well-curated gift shop allows you to take home some of the brain-bending fun. 

Entry is by timed ticket, masks and temperature checks are required, the air filtration system has been upgraded you'll find hand sanitizer throughout the museum. Read more COVID-19 safety measures here. 

77 Eighth Ave.
Chelsea
212-645-3230
Online: newyork.museumofillusions.us

AKC/David Woo

Museum of the Dog

The American Kennel Club celebrates humans' best friend with its Museum of the Dog on Park Avenue. (Previously located in St. Louis, the museum is now housed in the same building as the AKC.) Expect fine art such as paintings and sculptures dedicated to dogs big and small, as well as tributes created using modern technology. Ticketing is by advanced reservation, and masks are required. The museum is closed Mondays.

Tickets: $15/adults; $5/kids 12 and under, $10/seniors 65 and older 
101 Park Ave. 
Upper East Side
212-696-8360
Online: museumofthedog.org

 

—Mimi O’Connor

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