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New and upcoming exhibits at NYC museums for kids

Keep these new and upcoming kid-friendly exhibits at NYC museums in your back pocket for a cultural afternoon or the next rainy day

RECOMMENDED: More children's museum picks for families

Think you and the kids have seen all the cool exhibits that NYC museums have to offer? Think again! The city's best kid-friendly institutions are always refreshing their programs, and we've rounded up all that's new, noteworthy and upcoming. These exhibits in our favorite local children's museums make the perfect indoor activities for kids. If you time it right, you can even get in at no cost on free museum days throughout the city! Click through the slideshow to see 'em all.

Photograph courtesy of Liberty Science Center

"Sid the Science Kid: The Super-Duper Exhibit"

Now through May 15 at Liberty Science Center

The PBS Kids TV series from The Jim Jenson Company comes to life for kids in this interactive exhibit that invites them to investigate, explore and discover the world of science. They'll visit Sid's home, school, playground and the Super Fab Lab and answer questions like "Which kitchen gadgets will sink or float?" or "How does a pulley work?" Little ones can even meet Sid himself when his visits the museum on select days this spring. Ages 3 and up.

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Liberty Science Center Until Sunday May 15 2016
Credit: Courtesy of Will Ellis and Children's Museum of the Arts

“Sew What?”

Now through May 22 at the Children's Museum of the Arts

This exhibition on view in the Cynthia C. Wainwright Gallery celebrates the textile arts by showcasing works from contemporary artists that use the material of fiber to create unique pieces. “Sew What?” brings attention to the various techniques artists use to transform fiber. Artists twist and spin fiber to create yarn which is then braided, knotted, looped or woven into flexible fabric or cloth used to make clothing or soft items. The textile arts encapsulate such artistic techniques as dyeing, printing, embroidery, needlework, quilting and sewing. Visitors to the exhibit will get a firsthand look at these creative textile practices as they explore the fiber work on display. All ages.

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Children's Museum of the Arts , Downtown Thursday May 5 2016 - Sunday May 22 2016
Credit: Footage provided by Norbert Wu Productions

Milstein Science Series: Beneath the Ice

Now through May 27 at AMNH.

AMNH presents an immersive dome experience in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. Antarctica was originally thought to be low in species diversity, but now researchers know that the continent is filled with a variety of creatures. Come check out this pop-up dome where you’ll watch the featured film Beneath the Ice about these marine life forms that live under the ice in Antarctica. All ages.

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American Museum of Natural History , Upper West Side Until Friday May 27 2016
Photograph courtesy of Liberty Science Center

"Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition"

Now through May 29 at Liberty Science Center

This exhibition displays more than 100 artifacts from the RMS Titanic ship and allows visitors to tour replicas of the cabins. Upon entering the exhibition, visitors will be given a boarding pass as they assume the role of passengers aboard the Titanic. They'll tour through a chronological journey showcasing the ship’s construction, life on board, the moments of impact and sinking, as well as the present-day efforts to recover and conserve the wreckage. Visitors will get to touch an “iceberg” to feel the freezing temperature of the water at the time the ship sank. All ages.

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Liberty Science Center Until Sunday May 29 2016

"The Butterfly Conservatory: Tropical Butterflies Alive in Winter"

Critics' pick

Now through May 29 at the American Museum of Natural History

It's a balmy 80 degrees in the museum's 1,200-square-foot vivarium, which holds up to 500 tropical lepidoptera. The free-flying butterflies often land on the shoulders of visitors, allowing tykes to come into direct contact with the ethereal creatures. Outside the vivarium, youngsters can read up on the life cycle of butterflies, how to protect their habitats and what kinds of adaptations certain species have. All ages.

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Until Thu Dec 31
Photograph: Aoommie Photography

"America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far"

May 3–June 29 at Children's Museum of Manhattan

Families can celebrate the diversity of Muslim cultures in America and around the world in this interactive exhibit. Explore gorgeous mosques and design your own buildings inspired by Muslim architecture, learn to say "My name is..." in 15 languages and create original artwork. Kids can exchange ideas and goods along trade routes, make music in the courtyard and even barter at an international souk! Live performances and demonstrations will supplement the exhibition. All ages.

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Children's Museum of Manhattan , Upper West Side Until Wednesday June 29 2016
courtesy Disney/Pixar

"Pixar: The Design of Story"

Now through Aug 7 at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Every parent has seen their kid's eyes light up as a flick like Toy Story or Up unfolds on the screen. Now, families can get a look at how Pixar's movie magic comes together thanks to a behind-the-scenes exhibit created in partnership with Pixar Animation Studios. The original artwork of genius illustrators—from films including Wall-E, Brave and The Incredibles—shows youngsters how their favorite characters developed over time, how the designers trigger our emotions and beyond. In the museum's immersive Process Lab, families will explore the design process through colorscripts, storyboards, sculptures and interactive stations like an 84-inch touch-screen table. Hit up a Design by Hand workshop led by creative staff from Pixar and don't miss screenings of Luxo Jr., a short film from 1986, or a Q&A with John Lasseter (Nov 12). Ages 5 and up.

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Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum , Upper East Side Until Sunday August 7 2016
Roderick Mickens

"The Secret World Inside You: The Human Microbiome"

Now through Aug 14 at the American Museum of Natural History

At a very young age, kids are taught that germs are "yucky" and should be eliminated, but now they'll find out that there's much more to those tiny microorganisms that live on and inside our bodies. In this special exhibition, the Museum of Natural History invites families to take a closer look at the 100 trillion bacteria and viruses that make up our microbiome, demonstrating how the microbes can help make vitamins, digest food, pump up our immune system and even affect moods and behavior. Kids can get hands-on with interactive displays, showing where the bacteria live, how we interact with them and beyond. Ages 6 and up.

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American Museum of Natural History , Upper West Side Until Sunday August 14 2016
Photographs courtesy of Discovery Times Square

“Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume: The Exhibition”

Now through Sept 3 at Discovery Times Square

Travel to a galaxy far, far away at this exhibition featuring over 70 costumes from the Star Wars movies. Get a firsthand look at C3PO’s gilded suit, Darth Vader’s creepy black mask, Queen Amidala’s royal gowns and Princess Leia’s bikini. The exhibition will feature short films, interviews with artists, designers and actors, and interactive flipbooks including sketches, photographs and notes from the movie-making process. Guests will even get to see if they can rock a Star Wars costume through a virtual experience. All ages.

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Discovery Times Square , Midtown West Until Saturday September 3 2016
Artwork by Liz Hamby

"Our City"

Open now through Sept 4 at the Brooklyn Children's Museum

Kids know that their NYC neighborhood is made up of streets, apartment buildings, and playgrounds, but now they'll learn how the place they call home came together thanks to the planning of many different people. They'll get inspired by cool artwork, then take on the roles of urban planners, artists, architects and visionaries and think about what goes into a happy and healthy 'hood. All ages.

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Brooklyn Children’s Museum , Crown Heights Until Sunday September 4 2016
Credit: Courtesy Zina Saro-Wiwa

“Disguise: Masks and Global African Art”

May 4–Sept 18 at Brooklyn Museum.

Themed on masquerade, this exhibition showcases work from 25 contemporary artists from Africa and of African descent. The exhibition highlights the role of disguise in African art and invites visitors to be immersed in African history and global politics through video, digital media, sound, installation art, photography and sculpture. The historical masks and contemporary art on display bring awareness to important issues of race, governmental corruption and women’s agency through artistic exploration. All ages.

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Brooklyn Museum , Prospect Park Until Sunday September 18 2016
Photograph: Marty Umans

“The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems”

Now through Sept 25 at the New–York Historical Society

Since the publication of Don’t Let the Pigeons Drive the Bus!, Mo Willems has been one of the most popular children’s book authors and illustrators. This exhibit features nearly 100 of his works, giving viewers an inside look at his artistic process. Some of the art on display includes drawings from his award-winning series, Knuffle Bunny and Elephant and Piggie. All ages.

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New-York Historical Society , Upper West Side Until Sunday September 25 2016

Science Playground

Tots learn about technology as they slide and seesaw, climb a giant spiderweb, romp in sand pits and wind their way around big trees. Ages 6 and up.

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New York Hall of Science Playground , Long Island City Until Wednesday November 30 2016
© AMNH/R. Mickens

"Dinosaurs Among Us"

Now through Jan 2, 2017 at the American Museum of Natural History

Learn how a very special group of dinosaurs evolved into the creatures we call birds today via the American Museum of Natural History's new exhibit "Dinosaurs Among Us." Expect to see life-like models (including a 23-foot-long feathered tyrannosaur named Yutyrannus Huali) and rarely-seen dinosaur fossils. All ages.

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American Museum of Natural History , Upper West Side Until Monday January 2 2017
Photograph: Andrew Kelly

"Connected Worlds"

Ongoing at the New York Hall of Science

With so many people bustling around NYC at all times, it's easy to forget that our city is just a small piece in a larger environment. This high-tech exhibition in the Great Hall lets families better understand our impact on Earth's delicate systems, teaching kids how to keep things balanced through individual and collective actions. Hands-on activities let visitors interact with animated creatures, plants, trees and other objects on seven giant screens. Each displays a different environment—desert, mountain valley, plains, reservoir, jungle wetlands and a digital waterfall, towering above at 38 feet tall. As families move from one environment to the next they'll explore how the spaces are connected by shared resources and weather patterns and how their actions impact the larger environment. 
All ages.

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Photograph courtesy CMOM


Ongoing at the Children's Museum of Manhattan

Frolic!, a family-favorite play space in Williamsburg, brings a rock & roll–themed pop-up playspace to CMOM, inviting youngsters to enjoy hands-on musical exploration in the 1,500-square-foot space. Climb inside a paint-splattered replica of a 70s Volkswagen minivan, slip down the Rolling Stones–inspired tongue slide and play with an interactive video music wall. Daily programs and storytimes combining music, language and movement games will get them singing and dancing. Don't miss live performances on select Saturdays (11am and noon), featuring professional and student musiciansAges 5 and under. 

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Until Thu Dec 31