Mid-Town’s Modern Art Mecca for the Whole Family

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Sure, the Museum of Modern Art was a great place to catch Marina Abramović’s performance-art retrospective, or drag out-of-towners to gawk at Van Gogh’s Starry Night, but you’ve got wee ones in tow now. Your days of gazing meaningfully at modern and contemporary art are over, right? Not so! MoMA is a great destination for art lovers of any age.


What to do: While it’s well worth perusing the permanent collection (including Monets, Mondrians, and more) the museum’s architecture and design galleries are a good first stop. There are many fun everyday objects (from vacuum cleaners to army jeeps) and lots of information on the history of design. The Material Lab runs through the end of August, and is designed for kids of all ages to touch, paint, draw, and explore. Additionally, the outdoor garden and the photography collection on the third floor are not to be missed. Not every exhibit is child friendly (the current Cindy Sherman retrospective, for instance, may be too disturbing) but fortunately, the museum’s website has lots of information and photos to check out beforehand, and their partnership with Google’s virtual gallery project lets parents tour the museum before even going, so as to best plan out the trip.

The website lists many free programs for children 4-5 and up, including tours, workshops, artist talks, and interactive “labs.” If you’re more interested in family time, you can download activity guides (with themes such as colors, places, and materials) and explore the museum on your own. For toddlers, the museum is a great place to practice naming shapes, colors and objects, as you get your fine-art fix. Additionally, there are many films specifically for children — foreign cartoons and stop motion animation you won’t find anywhere else.

What to bring: A bottle of water, or cash for coffee and snacks to sustain yourselves (outside food is not permitted) as well as a stroller in case your art-lover starts to flag.

When you arrive: Pick up tickets and a map at the front desk. There’s a bag and coat check (backpacks and bags over 11×14 must be checked).

Where to eat: Café 2 on the second floor has salads, sandwiches and cheese plates for kids to nibble on. They have child seats available just inside to the left. Terrace 5 on the fifth floor café is less child friendly: it’s smaller, and focuses on desserts and cocktails.

Just outside the museum, however, there’s a number of options from fine dining to food carts. The Restaurants tend to be both pricy and high-end. Kid-friendly options include: Bill’s Bar & Burger at Rockefeller Center and The Beacon on 56th.

Hours: 10:30 am – 5:30 pm most days. Closed Tuesdays. Open till 8:00 pm on Fridays.

Admission: $25 for adults. Children under 16 free. Memberships and tickets may be purchased online.

Target sponsors free admission on Fridays from 4:00 – 8:00 pm.

11 West 53 Street
New York, Ny 10019-5497
Online: moma.org

—Christopher Michel

Photo credit: eschipul via Flickr