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Holiday activities for families at NYC museums

NYC museums are feting the season in style with holiday activities and shows that will get your family in the festive spirit.

  • Photograph courtesy of AMNH D. Finnin

    Holiday activities for families at NYC museums

    Origami Holiday Tree

  • Photograph: Jael Marschner

    Holiday activities for families at NYC museums

    "Holiday Express: Toys and Trains of the Jerni Collection" at the New-York Historical Society

  • Photograph: John Aquino/The Jewish Museum

    Holiday activities for families at NYC museums

    Hanukkah Family Day at the Jewish Museum

     

     

  • Photograph: Wendy Connett

    Holiday activities for families at NYC museums

    Preservation Detectives: Family Hanukkah Happening at the Museum at Eldridge Street

  • Andrew Hinderaker

    Holiday activities for families at NYC museums

    Children's Holiday Party at the Museum of the City of New York

  • Courtesy Metropolitan Museum

    Holiday activities for families at NYC museums

    Metropolitan Museum Christmas Tree and Neopolitan Baroque Creche

     

     

  • Photograph: Wendy Connett

    Holiday activities for families at NYC museums

    Super Sabado! Super Holidays at El Museo del Barrio

  • Holiday activities for families at NYC museums

    Family Stories at the Center: Chanukah Lights

     

     

  • Courtesy Newark Museum

    Holiday activities for families at NYC museums

    Newark Museum Holiday Fun Days

     

     

  • Photography courtesy AMNH R. Mickens

    Holiday activities for families at NYC museums

    American Museum of Natural History Kwanzaa Celebration

Photograph courtesy of AMNH D. Finnin

Holiday activities for families at NYC museums

Origami Holiday Tree


It might not seem like NYC museums are the place to be for end-of-the-year festivities, but it turns out most of them are celebrating the season big-time with holiday activities of all kinds. Peruse our list of festive, multicultural holiday activities at NYC museums and get your culture on as a family this year.

RECOMMENDED: Christmas for kids in New York City

Up4Art

  • Price band: 1/4

Every weekend this month, tots can explore their artistic side with crafts like clay sculpting (Dec 1, 2, 22 & 23), winter lantern crafting (Dec 8 & 9) and holiday card printing (Dec 15 & 16). Ages 3 to 10.

  1. Staten Island Children's Museum 1000 Richmond Terr, at Snug Harbor Rd
  2. Until Sun Dec 23
More info

Family Affair: Holiday Party!

  • Free

Round up your crew for an afternoon of seasonal celebrations, including art-making activities, eats and family-friendly tours of the museum's exhibits. Ages 1–12.

  1. Bronx Museum of the Arts 1040 Grand Concourse, at 165th St
  2. Sat Dec 12
More info

Wave Hill Holiday Workshop Weekend

  • Price band: 2/4

Your tots can avoid some of the holiday frenzy by spending a relaxing weekend channeling their creative energy into a festive line-up of craft workshops. In "Minature Arrangements" ($30) fresh greens and pinecones help create mini centerpieces; "Natural Wreaths and Swags" ($30) teaches kids techniques for holiday wreath arrangements, and youngsters will learn to create "wet felting" objects like soaps, balls or bowls in "Cool Wool-Felting Workshop" ($18) .Ages 8 and up.

  1. Wave Hill–Glyndor Gallery Wave Hill, Independence Ave at 249th St
  2. Sun Dec 7
More info

Children's Holiday Party

  • Price band: 3/4

The Museum of the City of New York has been hosting this annual fundraising holiday party for over 40 years, so you can expect a well-planned extravaganza. Tots can play arcade and carnival games, decorate cookies, make crafts to take home, meet Santa, and more. Proceeds from the party will benefit the museum's Frederick A. O. Schwarz Children's Center.Ages 3 to 8.

  1. Museum of the City of New York 1220 Fifth Ave, between 103rd and 104th Sts
  2. Until Tue Dec 9
More info

Sunday Story Hour: Hanukkah

  • Price band: 1/4

Tots will learn about the Jewish Festival of Lights through the eyes of a tiny family living behind the walls of the Eldridge Street Synagogue in When Mindy Saved Hanukkah by Eric Kimmel. Ages 4 to 7.

  1. DiMenna Children's History Museum 170 Central Park West, at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street)
  2. Sun Dec 13
More info

Preservation Detectives: Family Hanukah Happening

  • Price band: 1/4

Families explore the history of the Eldridge Street Synagogue, which was nearly destroyed by the ravages of time, in the context of Hanukkah through a dreidel scavenger hunt. Then, kids watch the lighting of the menorah, eat something sweet, spin dreidels and make a holiday art project while learning about how the synagogue became a modern-day treasure. Plus, stick around to meet Fran Menushkin, author of such children's books as Latkes and Applesauce and Hooray for Hanukkah (noon–2pm). Ages 5 and up.

  1. Museum at Eldridge Street 12 Eldridge St, between Canal and Division Sts
  2. Sun Nov 24
More info

Hanukkah Family Day

  • Price band: 1/4

Celebrate the Festival of Lights with Hanukkah-themed arts and crafts activities–like building a menorah out of found objects or making a colorful dreidel– and a concert by Israeli kiddie band Yosi and the Superdads. Then ooh and aah over the museum’s extensive collection of Hanukkah lamps. Ages 3 and up.

  1. The Jewish Museum 1109 Fifth Ave, at 92nd St
  2. Until Sun Dec 14
More info

New York City Fire Museum's Annual Santa Rescue

  • Price band: 1/4

Kris Kringle makes an early appearance—and gets stranded on the roof when his reindeer fly off without him. Happily, New York's Bravest come to the rescue. Viewing the rooftop exploits is free to all, but for the cost of museum admission families can head inside to enjoy quality time and a photo op with Saint Nick, plus hot chocolate, live Christmas carols and…hot dogs? All ages.

  1. New York City Fire Museum 278 Spring St, between Hudson and Varick Sts
  2. Until Sun Dec 7
More info

Children's Holiday Party

  • Price band: 3/4

The Museum of the City of New York has been hosting this annual fundraising holiday party for over 40 years, so you can expect a well-planned extravaganza. Tots can play arcade and carnival games, decorate cookies, make crafts to take home, meet Santa, and more. Proceeds from the party will benefit the museum's Frederick A. O. Schwarz Children's Center.Ages 3 to 8.

  1. Museum of the City of New York 1220 Fifth Ave, between 103rd and 104th Sts
  2. Until Tue Dec 9
More info

Family Workshop: Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel!

  • Price band: 1/4

Follow up a screening of Shalom Sesame (at 11am) with a dreidel-making workshop. Kids will learn to use clay and markers to create their own Hanukkah toys and test them out. Ages 6 and under.

  1. Sony Wonder Technology Lab 550 Madison Ave, Sony Plaza, at 56th St
  2. Until Wed Dec 17
More info

Caroling at the Morgan

  • Price band: 1/4

Outdoor caroling isn't always the way to go. Avoid frozen toes and listen to students from the Mannes College New School for Music sing your favorite holiday tunes. All ages.

  1. The Morgan Library & Museum 225 Madison Ave, at 36th St
  2. Sun Dec 21
More info

Super Sabado!: Super Holidays

  • Free

During this monthly celebration, El Museo del Barrio opens its doors to all interested in Latino art and culture. This time, ring in the holiday season with crafts, performances and the newest names in Latino art. Free. All ages.

  1. El Museo del Barrio 1230 Fifth Ave, between 104th and 105th Sts
  2. Until Sat Dec 21
More info

Family Stories at the Center: Chanukah Lights

  • Price band: 1/4

Celebrate the last day of Chanukah with author Peninnah Schram. You and your tots can learn about and participate in oral traditions using storytelling and song. Recall past Chanukah memories and create new ones. All ages.

  1. Center for Jewish History/Yeshiva University Museum 15 W 16th St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves
  2. Sun Dec 20
More info

Kwanzaa 2012! First Fruits of the Harvest

  • Price band: 1/4

The American Museum of Natural History marks the holiday with this daylong celebration of African heritage and culture. Watch traditional dances led by acclaimed choreographer Obediah Wright and an interview about Karamu (African Feast) with restauranteur B. Smith. In between performances, peruse the arts, crafts and food vendors. All ages.

  1. American Museum of Natural History Central Park West, at 79th St
  2. Sat Jan 2
More info

Holiday Circus Special Performance and Santa Visit

  • Free

Before the Holiday Circus show even arrives at its intended destination (Brighton Beach's Millennium Theatre), it will put on two previews at the Brooklyn Children's Museum. The performance features an array of acts from circuses across the country, who are bound to enchant with magic, clowns and other circus artistry. Santa will be on hand for the evening as well. As this special event take places during the museum's free hours, it is cost-free. Just get here early enough to snag seats. All ages.

  1. Brooklyn Children’s Museum 145 Brooklyn Ave, at St. Marks Ave
  2. Until Thu Dec 20
More info

Family Workshop: Winter Wonderland

  • Free

After watching today's holiday screenings, little ones can create either a picture frame, holiday bracelet, or tree ornament (limited to one craft project per child). No reservations required, but space is limited. Ages 6 and under.

  1. Sony Wonder Technology Lab 550 Madison Ave, Sony Plaza, at 56th St
  2. Sat Dec 20
More info

Sunday Story Hour: St. Nicholas Visits for Christmas

  • Price band: 1/4

After listening to the Christmas classic, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," tots head upstairs to see the desk where Clement Clark Moore may have written the poem, also known as "A Visit From St. Nicholas". Ages 4 to 7.

  1. DiMenna Children's History Museum 170 Central Park West, at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street)
  2. Until Sun Dec 23
More info

Play Lab Workshop: Very Merry Holiday Traditions

  • Price band: 1/4

Can't decide which holiday to celebrate? Learn about how families come together for Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa traditions and make a festive ornament to take home. Ages 2.5 to 5.

  1. Brooklyn Children’s Museum 145 Brooklyn Ave, at St. Marks Ave
  2. Until Sun Dec 23
More info

Holiday Open House

  • Free

Just because they live in the city doesn't mean your kids can't enjoy a country Christmas. Today, children tour a seasonally decorated farmhouse, sip warm cider and craft a holiday-themed masterpiece. All ages.

  1. Queens County Farm Museum 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy, between 73rd Rd and 74th Ave
  2. Sun Dec 28
More info

Newark Museum Holiday Fun Days

  • Price band: 1/4

The Newark Museum is celebrating the holidays with a museum-wide extravaganza. Tots can stroll through the exhibits and take part in different activities: a gallery scavenger hunt, cooking lessons from young chefs-in-training, a geology fossil hunt and more. Spend a day doing all the things you thought you could never do in a museum. All ages.

  1. Newark Museum 49 Washington St, at James St, 07102
  2. Sat Jan 2
More info

Kwanzaa Celebration

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Take in the sights and sounds of African and African-American arts and culture at this all-day celebration honoring the holiday's seven principles. Families can see performances ranging from dance to spoken word and visit a Kwanzaa marketplace filled with vendors. To top it off, the food court will be serving traditional Kwanzaa food. All ages.

  1. American Museum of Natural History Central Park West, at 79th St
  2. Until Sat Dec 27
More info

Origami Holiday Tree

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

More than 500 handmade origami ornaments adorn the holiday season's craftiest Christmas tree. This year's theme is "Museum’s Collections," so keep your eyes peeled for baubles representing exhibits and creatures from the AMNH’s trove, including lemurs, spiders, monkeys and even crows. All ages.

  1. American Museum of Natural History Central Park West, at 79th St
  2. Until Sun Jan 11
More info

"Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection"

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Take a journey back in time with the kids as you peruse this vintage collection of European toys and trains. It's the first museum exhibition of the Jerni holdings, an acclaimed collection of model trains, bridges, carousels and Ferris wheels, plus the first-ever model of an elevated train station. The show's diorama is populated by figurines in colorful 19th-century garb, and as all toys are hand-crafted and hand-painted, each piece has a unique flair. All ages.

  1. New-York Historical Society 170 Central Park West, between 76th and 77th Sts
  2. Until Sun Feb 22
More info

Metropolitan Museum Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The city’s most elegant tree is an exhibit unto itself, hung with more than 200 18th-century hand-sculpted Neapolitan crèche figures wearing jeweled and embroidered costumes. A traditional nativity scene and animal figurines of sheep, goats, horses and an elephant round out the display. All ages.

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St
  2. Until Tue Jan 6
More info

New York Transit Museum's Holiday Train Show

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The iconic Grand Central Terminal turns 100 in 2013—and the railroad hub is kicking off the centennial celebration with its annual train show. Even your littlest tyke will feel like a giant while wandering around the 34-foot-long display, festooned with miniature versions of city landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building and, of course, Grand Central. Watch as Lionel model trains travel over the river (the East River, to be exact) and through the woods to reach their final destination, the north pole. Free. All ages.

  1. New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex Grand Central Terminal, E 42nd St, between Lexington and Vanderbilt Aves
  2. Until Sun Feb 23
More info


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