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NYC Museums: Permanent exhibits for kids

These can’t-miss permanent exhibits have been (and will likely be) here for the long haul, but have you visited them lately? Pay a visit to the dinosaurs or outer space with your little ones this weekend.


Whether you're in the mood to explore the depths of the ocean with The Museum of Natural History's blue whale, tee off at New York Hall of Science's "Rocket Park Mini Golf" or teach the little ones about famous painters at the Met, these iconic permanent exhibits will keep the whole family entertained for hours. See our favorite NYC picks below.


 



The Jewish Museum, "Archaeology Zone"

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Introduce kids to ideas about why and how cultures develop with an exhibit that features a dig's worth of interactive elements: Tots can piece vessels together, weigh and examine replicas of artifacts, decipher the meaning of symbols in a mosaic and don a costume reminiscent of Indiana Jones's garb. Note that this exhibit is not open on Saturdays due to the Sabbath.

  1. 1109 Fifth Ave, (at 92nd St), 10128
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Brooklyn Children’s Museum "World Brooklyn"

  • Price band: 1/4

Youngsters navigate a maze of kid-sized shops—a Chinese stationary store, a Mexican bakery and a West African import store, to name a few—modeled after real Brooklyn businesses. The miniaturized community also houses an international grocery store equipped with conveyer belt--propelled wares that tykes can use to restock the shelves, and a theater where children watch recorded performances by Brooklyn dance troupes, then step onstage themselves to replicate the steps.

  1. 145 Brooklyn Ave, (at St. Marks Ave)
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Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), "Painting and Sculpture"

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Secreted away on floors four and five, the museum's permanent collection chronicles the hundred-plus-year history of modern art so ravishingly that it remains the institution's pride and joy. Nearly all of its works have kid appeal, but Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night, Henri Matisse's The Red Studioand Pablo Picasso's Three Musicians are some of the most riveting.

  1. 11 W 53rd St, (between Fifth and Sixth Aves), 10019
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American Museum of Natural History, "Rose Center for Earth and Space"

  • Price band: 1/4

The spectacular $210 million Rose Center for Earth & Space—dazzling at night—is a giant silvery globe where kids can discover the universe via 3-D shows in the Hayden Planetarium. The immersive film Dark Universe whisks youngsters into the great beyond, from Jupiter's atmosphere to the Mt. Wilson Observatory in California. While older kids and adults might recognize astronomy lessons on their voyage, little ones will just be, well, star-struck.

  1. 5 W 81st St, (between Central Park West and Columbus Ave)
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Museum of the Moving Image, "Behind the Screen"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

At the museum's core exhibit, kids can put sound effects into film scenes, insert their voices into a part of a film, or even make a short animated film and e-mail it to themselves. Nostalgic parents will want to introduce the next generation to the classic arcade games on display, like Ms. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.

  1. 36-01 35th Ave, (at 37th St), 11106
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Children's Museum of the Arts

  • Price band: 1/4

The CMA's 10,000-square-foot home has more than enough room to house its 2,000-piece collection of international children's art, including a huge center gallery to display it in. Artists lead workshops in classrooms, studios or media lab—that has a sound station, clay bar and video-making equipment. Kids can work their bodies as well as their minds on the museum's second floor, where they'll find interactive art displays and a ball pit.

  1. 103 Charlton St, (between Greenwich and Hudson Sts), 10014
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Children's Museum of Manhattan, "EatSleepPlay: Building Health Every Day"

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Healthy living for the entire family is the goal of CMOM's groundbreaking exhibit. A giant head, representing the body's decision center, is equipped with interactive games where young visitors can compete for the longest lifespan. Kids also get the chance to crawl through a digestive system; see how the lack of z's affects performance, in the Sleep Deprivation Zone; and pedal, dance, run, bounce and jump in the Play Center.

  1. 212 W 83rd St, (between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway), 10024
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The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Temple of Dendur

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Moved from its original Nile-side setting and now overlooking a reflective pool, the Temple of Dendur was built by the Roman governor of Egypt around 15 B.C. and dedicated to Isis, Osiris and two deified sons of a local Nubian chieftain. Tots can step right into the compact structure to eye the inscriptions on its sandstone columns and walls (and the graffiti left by 19th-century European explorers). Off to one side, they can ogle the majestic, 11-foot-long granite sphinx of Hatshepsut, ancient Egypt's premier female pharaoh and possibly the world's first woman head of state.

  1. 1000 Fifth Ave, (at 82nd St), 10028
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New-York Historical Society, DiMenna Children's History Museum

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The "museum within a museum," occupying 4,000 square feet on the Historical Society's lower level, offers kids the opportunity to learn NYC history through the eyes of children. Young historical detectives visit seven pavilions centered around New Yorkers both famous (Alexander Hamilton) and anonymous (boys and girls who hawked newspapers). Touch screens are ubiquitous, but it is the decidedly low-tech activities (think practicing penmanship or sewing a cross stitch) that truly inspire curiosity.

  1. 170 Central Park West, (between 76th and 77th Sts)
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American Museum of Natural History, Dinosaur Halls

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

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.

  1. Central Park West, (at 79th St), 10024
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National Museum of the American Indian, "Infinity of Nations"

  • Free

Tykes can gape at headdresses, 2,000-year-old duck decoys created by peoples in the Great Basin, elaborate masks from the Northwest Coast, and Olmec and Mayan carvings in this exhibit. Make sure to try the free mobile device app, which allows kids to see the collection from three points of view (those of an artist, a reporter and a traveler), hunt for items with the "Where Is It?" function or watch real-life videos. Best of all, the museum is always free.

  1. Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, 1 Bowling Green, (between State and Whitehall Sts)
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Museum of the City of New York, Stettheimer Dollhouse

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

There's so much to see in the museum's collection of more than 10,000 items, but the undoubted highlight is the amazing Stettheimer Dollhouse: It was created in the '20s by Carrie Stettheimer, whose artist friends reinterpreted their masterpieces in miniature to hang on the walls. When they look closely, kids can even spy a tiny version of Marcel Duchamp's famous Nude Descending a Staircase.

  1. 1220 Fifth Ave, (between 103rd and 104th Sts)
Book online

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

  • Price band: 2/4

For little ones, the highlight of the aircraft carrier turned science museum is the Exploreum, an indoor activity zone divided into areas with nautical, aviation, cosmos and life themes. In traversing the zone, children get to board small boats, learn why huge metal ships don't sink, wander around the living quarters of the Intrepid's former crew and try on astronaut gloves.

  1. Pier 86, Twelfth Ave, (at 46th St), 10036
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Liberty Science Center, "Touch Tunnel"

  • Price band: 1/4

Young visitors are bound to appreciate their eyesight as never before once they crawl through a pitch-black maze, finding their way using only their sense of touch. (No need to worry: Infrared cameras allow museum staff to see and talk to little ones if they get stuck.)

  1. 222 Jersey City Blvd, (between Philip and Wilson Sts)
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Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Immigration Museum

Exhibitions are a moving tribute to the more than 12 million immigrants who made the journey to America, dreaming of a better life. Kids will get a kick out of the "Flag of Faces" in the museum's main entrance—a montage of images submitted by individuals of their families or ancestors. Search by name for an image and it appears in the center of the flag. Another must-do: the children's tour, narrated by Marty the Muskrat, which is offered in five languages.

  1. Liberty Island and Ellis Island
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Queens Museum, "Panorama of the City of New York

  • Price band: 1/4

The recently renovated (and renamed) museum's crown jewel is a 9,335-square-foot scale model of New York City created for the 1964 World's Fair, complete with a lighting system that mimics the arc of the sun as it passes over the city. Young sleuths can find miniature landmarks or search out tiny versions of their own neighborhoods.

  1. Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, (, enter at 111th St and 49th Ave)
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New York Hall of Science, "Rocket Park Mini Golf

  • Price band: 1/4

Beneath the shadow of two retired NASA rockets is this real outdoor mini golf course that mimics the path of a complete space flight. As they play the nine holes, little ones must take careful aim to avoid gravity wells, wormholes, warped space and asteroids; they'll also learn about the laws of motion that move spaceships through the air.

  1. 47-01 111th St, (at 47th Ave), 11368
More info


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