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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!

Spiders alive!

Spiders alive! Photograph: ©AMNH/R. Mickens


RECOMMENDED: More NYC museums 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! Learn about the technology behind robots at MoMath, delve into the science of natural disasters at the American Museum of Natural History and learn how honey bees make the sweet stuff at Liberty Science Center.



The best new exhibits for kids at NYC museums

"Nature's Fury: The Science of Natural Disasters"

  • Price band: 2/4

If Hurricane Sandy has taught New Yorkers anything, it's that no one is safe from the forces of nature. Though we often hear news of earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis obliterating areas around the world, many were shocked that a place like NYC could be hit by such a massive storm. Now families can learn more about these natural disasters through an interactive exhibit that lets kids bone up on the geological causes, the risks to humans, coping in the aftermath and how to predict future destruction. Hands-on activities invite visitors to monitor earthquakes around the world in real time, manipulate an earthquake fault, generate a virtual volcano, stand at the center of a roaring tornado and check out an interactive map of NYC during the hurricane in 2012. All ages.

  1. American Museum of Natural History Central Park West, at 79th St, 10024
  2. Tue Jul 7 - Sun Aug 9
More info

"Far, Far Away..."

  • Price band: 1/4

Arty kids can let their imaginations run wild while browsing this otherworldly exhibition of creative artworks that evoke dreamed-up realities. Striking visual elements such as bright colors, stunning landscapes, and outdoor materials like tree stumps bring viewers into worlds of fantasy and illusion. Kids will see a series of lighthouses from Meghan Boody, fairy-tale landscapes from Julie Heffernan and other works that address transitioning from childhood to adulthood, changing identities and venturing into the unknown. Pop into hands-on gallery workshops to explore some of the techniques used in the exhibit, including positive-negative cutouts, symbolic drawings and magazine collages. Ages 5 and up.

  1. Children's Museum of the Arts 103 Charlton St, between Greenwich and Hudson Sts, 10014
  2. Wed Jul 8 - Sun Sep 6
More info

"City Splash"

  • Price band: 1/4

Embrace the warmth at this splashable outdoor play center. Hands-on learning stations let tykes play with floating objects, tinker with an Erosion Table, race boats down a 16-foot zigzagging stream, try out "evaporation painting" and operate waterwheels.

  1. Children's Museum of Manhattan 212 W 83rd St, between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway, 10024
  2. Tue Jul 7 - Sun Sep 27
More info

"Spiders Alive!"

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Get up close and personal with 16 species of one of the world's most essential predators. "Spiders Alive!" lets you and your kids come face-to-face with live spiders from the museum's research collection (the largest in the world), learn about spiders' behavior and anatomies, and take a picture atop a giant arachnid model. Visitors are able to watch, learn and even touch these creepy creatures for up to three months! Be sure to check out 15-minute presentations in which the museum's resident spider experts handle live tarantulas and other species of spiders. All ages.

  1. American Museum of Natural History Central Park West at 79th St, 10024
  2. Tue Jul 7 - Sun Nov 29
More info

"The Helpers of the Secret Annex"

  • Price band: 1/4

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, The Anne Frank Center USA provides family programming to help visitors of all ages understand the significance of the historic events. The "Helpers, Heroes and Liberators" series presents programs to honor the victims and survivors, including this special exhibit, visiting from The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. It focuses on the personal stories of the brave individuals who provided food, clothing and more to 8 people (including Anne Frank) hiding in the Secret Annex. Families can explore letters, photos, artifacts and filmed interviews with Otto Frank. Ages 8 and up.

  1. The Anne Frank Center USA 44 Park Pl, at Church St, 10007
  2. Tue Jul 7 - Wed Dec 30
More info

Robot Swarm

Kids will marvel at the Museum of Mathematics' futuristic new exhibit, featuring more than 20 small, light-up robots. The 'bots zoom across the floor, interacting with museum-goers and communicating with each other thanks to high-tech motion control and positioning systems. Families can learn all about the exciting field of swarm technology in robotics and explore the mathematical rules that make the robots work. All ages.

  1. Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) 11 E 26th St, between Fifth and Madison Aves, 10010
  2. Tue Jul 7 - Mon Dec 14
More info

Science Playground

  • Price band: 1/4

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.

  1. New York Hall of Science 47-01 111th St, at 47th Ave, 11368
  2. Tue Jul 7 - Thu Dec 31
More info

Frolic! at CMOM

  • Price band: 1/4

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 musicians. Ages 5 and under.

  1. Children's Museum of Manhattan 212 W 83rd St, between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway, 10024
  2. Tue Jul 7 - Thu Dec 31
More info

Jeppe Hein: "Please Touch the Art"

  • Free

A standard afternoon in Brooklyn Bridge Park becomes a unique interactive experience when Danish artist Jeppe Hein’s installation takes over the public space. Curious kids will love walking through three separate works, discovering quirky additions to the landscape like benches that twist and curve, a mirror labyrinth that lets visitors see double (or triple) and a grid of sky-high water jets that create sporadic walls of H2O rising up from the ground. Families wander from the Manhattan Bridge along the waterfront to Pier 6, and get their hands on works of art instead of just observing from a distance, so make sure to bring a camera—the crazy-awesome photo opportunities will be more than worth the trip. All ages.

  1. Brooklyn Bridge Park East River between Adams St and Atlantic Ave, 11201
  2. Until Fri Jan 1
More info

"Life at the Limits: Stories of Amazing Species"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Prepare to be amazed by the sophisticated strategies and unique adaptations animals and plants use to survive, from elephant seals that can hold their breath for two hours to beetles that defend themselves by shooting explosive chemicals at their enemies. This educational and engaging gallery includes both live animals and models, as well as videos and interactive features. All ages.

  1. American Museum of Natural History Central Park West at 79th St, 10024
  2. Tue Jul 7 - Sun Jan 3
More info


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