Timeout New York Kids

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Best museum shops for NYC kids

Museum stores offer culture to go.

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art shop

  • Photograph: Andrew Loxley

    Museum of Modern Art shop

  • Photograph: Phyllis B. Dooney

    Transit Museum Gift Shop

  • Brooklyn Children's Museum

  • Photograph: Krista Schlueter

    Brooklyn Museum gift shop

  • American Museum of Natural History

Metropolitan Museum of Art shop

Gear up for a slew of new exhibits opening this fall with a trip to your favorite museums—and their retail outlets. Equal parts toy store, design emporium and media center, these shops are now destinations unto themselves.

American Museum of Natural History
Sprawling across three levels, AMNH's main shop is full of such treasures as grow-your-own Triassic shrimp ($10), a set of prehistoric shark teeth ($25) and, of course, astronaut ice cream ($5). Equip your budding paleontologists with a genuine pith helmet ($30) and Field Guide to Dinosaurs ($15) from the "World's Largest Dinosaurs" exhibit mini-store to keep them exploring long after they've left the museum. Central Park West at 79th St (212-769-5100, amnhshop.com)

Brooklyn Children's Museum
Kids can walk the tightrope in the science-based "Balancing Act" exhibit, then head to the KidShop to peruse the multilingual children's books and Brooklyn-themed goodies—like Brooklyn Monopoly, complete with Williamsburg Bridge and Property Tax squares ($25). To continue your urban exploration of nature, take home packets of synthetic owl pellets, each guaranteed to contain a complete skeleton ($7) or a compost container ($35). 145 Brooklyn Ave at St. Marks Ave, Crown Heights, Brooklyn (718-735-4400, brooklynkids.org)

Brooklyn Museum
See the museum's enormous Egyptian art collection, then head to the shop. Kids will find hieroglyphic-carved alphabet blocks ($72), a kit to make their own papyrus ($8) and enough ankh-, jackal- and cat-shaped cookie cutters ($4) to host a pharaoh's birthday party. 200 Eastern Pkwy at Washington Ave, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (718-638-5000, shop.brooklynmuseum.org)

Children's Museum of Manhattan
Have your tyke explore the new "Curious George: Let's Get Curious!" exhibit before heading to the store to take home some of the mischievous monkey's paraphernalia. There's also an impressive selection of Dora and Diego items, picture books and food play sets: You can even equip your mini-Manhattanite with a "just like Mom's" wooden sushi set, complete with chopsticks ($20).
212 W 83rd St between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway (212-721-1223, cmom.org)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The 15,000-square-foot main shop houses a special area just for kids. Budding fashionistas enchanted by the "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" exhibit will go ga-ga over lap looms ($45), while pint-size architecture fiends will love the blocks painted with Byzantine domes or Roman arches ($55). 1000 Fifth Ave at 82nd St (212-535-7710, store.metmuseum.org)

MoMA Design Store
Unusually shaped espresso cups and salt cellars share shelf space with toys from the highbrow (a house of cards by Charles and Ray Eames, $25) to the delightfully simple (balloon-powered cars, $10). Young tykes will love the Monster Hands temporary tattoos ($7), while older kids will get a kick out of the 3D doodle kit ($9).
44 W 53rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-767-1050, momastore.org)

Museum of the Moving Image
This shop has a fascinating array of flip books—watch the Cheshire Cat fade in and out or Charlie Chaplin do pratfalls ($3--$5). You can also mine the trove of old cult-flick director's cuts, like Brazil ($60) and Seven Samurai ($50), to give your film-aficionado-in-training a head start. But don't let the bounty make you forget to see the "" exhibit upstairs. 36-01 35th Ave at 37th St, Astoria, Queens (718-784-0077, movingimage.us)

National Museum of the American Indian
Tucked into a corner of the museum's vaulting Beaux Arts hall, the shop features a variety of crafts made by Native American artists, including dream catchers ($6--18) and beaded leather Navajo rattles ($16--45). The museum is always free so you won't feel guilty stocking up on the beautifully illustrated picture books featuring Indian legends and history load the shelves. 1 Bowling Green between State and Whitehall Sts (212-514-3700, nmai.si.edu)

Lower East Side Tenement Museum
True to the museum's mission of exploring immigrant life in New York, this shop brims with colorful children's books about kids who came across the sea and the Jewish, Italian, Irish and German families who settled in the LES 150 years ago. New York kitsch for kids and grownups abounds, from the classic Greek diner paper cup re-envisioned in ceramic ($13) to Yiddish magnet poetry ($12) and whimsical Calder-esque mobiles ($29--42). 108 Orchard St at Delancey St (212-982-8420, shop.tenement.org)

New York Transit Museum
Descend to the platform of a shuttered subway station for a shop where nearly everything is adorned with the iconic MTA subway map, including totes ($14) and umbrellas ($26). Brio-compatible wooden subway cars ($10) are just the right size for your small straphanger. Boerum Pl at Schermerhorn St, Downtown Brooklyn (718-694-1600, transitmuseumstore.com).

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