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The best NYC museum exhibits for kids

These can't-miss exhibits at NYC museums may not be brand new, but they certainly deserve a family outing before they roll out of town!

Photograph: Andrew Kelly/NY Hall of Science
NYSCI Design Lab

RECOMMENDED: More children's museum picks for families

Don't let these shows slip through your little gallery-goer's fingers! Enjoy a day of indoor activities with the kids at these impressive NYC museums—exploring exhibitions is one of our favorite things to do when it's raining! Tinker with technology in the New York Hall of Science Design Lab, learn about the prehistoric creatures that roamed the earth at the American Museum of Natural History and check out the process of a famous children's author at the DiMenna Children's History Museum.

The best new exhibits for kids at NYC museums

“Silicon City: Computer History Made in New York”

New York has always been a core spot for technological advancements—from the first computers and tech companies to inventions like vacuum tubes, punched cards and transistors. The New-York Historical Society acknowledges New York’s contribution to the digital revolution through this interactive exhibition that highlights the technological innovations and breakthroughs that improved daily life throughout history.  Visitors to this exhibition can check out more than 300 artifacts from the late 1800s through the 1980s, including archival materials, early computers and telecommunications hardware, photographs and digital artworks. All ages.

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17 Apr 2016

"Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition"

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

"America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far"

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

"Pixar: The Design of Story"

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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07 Aug 2016

"The Secret World Inside You: The Human Microbiome"

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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14 Aug 2016

"Our City"

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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04 Sep 2016

“The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems”

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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25 Sep 2016

“Vikings Exhibition”

Travel back in time to the Viking Age from the 8th to 11th centuries in this historical exhibition. Featuring more than 500 artifacts—many never seen before outside Scandinavia—it immerses visitors in Viking culture and allows them to learn more about Viking family and community, religion and rituals, travel and trade, aristocracy and slavery and the roles of women. As visitors view artifacts like Viking helmets, wrought brooches, gold and silver pendants, the oldest known Scandinavian crucifix and swords, they’ll gain a broader understanding of Norse craftsmanship and Viking mythology. Highlights of the exhibition include the Gokstad II, a replica of a Scandinavian Viking Boat and interactive experiences like excavation of a virtual boat grave and a Scandinavian board game. All ages.

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05 Sep 2016

"Dinosaurs Among Us"

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

"Connected Worlds"

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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New York Hall of Science , Queens Until Saturday December 31 2016

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

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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Until Sat Sep 3

New York Hall of Science Design Lab

Expand your mind and let your imagination flow at this exhibit that allows adults and kids to problem solve and find creative solutions to engineering and design problems. The exhibit features five activity areas: Backstage, where guests come up with solutions to performance-based activities, Sandbox, where guests construct large structures that they can stand in, Studio, where guests construct smaller tabletop structures, Treehouse, where guests can experiment with objects in a split-level area, and Maker Space where guests are taught how to use tools to transition design ideas into prototypes. This exhibit allows visitors to experience creative experments, collaboration and critical thinking.

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American Museum of Natural History, Dinosaur Halls


Home to the largest and arguably most fabulous collection of dinosaur fossils in the world, AMNH's fourth-floor dino halls have been blowing kids' minds for decades. They'll never forget the first time they laid eyes on the fiercesome Tyrannosaurus rex,stalking its prey, or the towering barosaurus rearing up on its hind legs to protect its young from an attacking allosaurus.

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Upper West Side