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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

"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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29 May 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: Courtesy Children's Museum of Manhattan

Dynamic H20

May 28 through August 31 at Children's Museum of Manhattan

Learn all about NYC’s water system at Dynamic H2O, an outdoor interactive exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan that follows water’s journey from the clouds to the city. Along the way tikes can pretend to fish, use a fountain to experiment with water pressure and build waterfront Lego hi-rises to add to the exhibit’s miniature replica of NYC, which includes tiny Empire State and Chrysler Buildings, of course. All ages.

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Children's Museum of Manhattan , Upper West Side Until Wednesday August 31 2016
Photograph: Aoommie Photography

"America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far"

Through 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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29 Jun 2016
Credit: Courtesy of National Geographic Studios

Living in the Age of Airplanes

Through June 30 at New York Hall of Science

NYSCI is holding daily screenings of this inspiring film by National Geographic Studios and narrated by actor and pilot Harrison Ford. Immerse yourself in the world of flying as you watch how aviation has affected travel through a journey to 95 locations in 18 countries depicted with beautiful aerial and nature photography. All ages.

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30 Jun 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"

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”

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"

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”

Through 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”

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 Sunday July 31 2016 - Sunday September 25 2016
Credit: Andrew Kelly/NY Hall of Science

“Scattered Light”

Through December at New York Hall of Science

As you enter NYSCI, take a look at this large art installation featuring 528 25-foot lengths of fluorescent orange and pink flagging tape. Made by artist, architect and inventor Dick Esterle, the installation combines space, light, color and perception as guest view the different angles that change as sunlight move through the circular entrance. “Scattered Light” celebrates DIY art with its use of inexpensive materials like paper clips and metal rods. All ages.

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New York Hall of Science , Queens Until Saturday December 31 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"

Ongoing 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

"Behind the Screen"

Critics' pick

Ongoing at the Museum of the Moving Image

In this one-of-a-kind experience on the museum’s third floor, guests can immerse themselves in the process of producing, promoting and presenting digital entertainment, TV shows and movies. Check out cool artifacts like historic film and TV cameras, posters, design sketches and more. All ages.

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Museum of the Moving Image , Astoria Until Sunday December 31 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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