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Best interactive museums

We list the top nine museums that let you be part of the exhibits.

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

This educational museum is located on the aircraft carrier, the USS Intrepid, and docked at Pier 86. Highlights include a restored fleet of jets, including some new additions (like a helicopter flown in World War II), a mess hall decorated to look as it would have in 1969 and interactive exhibits.

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Hell's Kitchen

Museum of American Finance

Situated in the old headquarters of the Bank of New York, the permanent collection traces the history of Wall Street and America’s financial markets. The museum also serves as a de facto visitors’ center for the New York Stock Exchange, with videos of the Exchange floor and a "Teaching Ticker" that explains what each abbreviation, numeral and color means. The recent addition of a timeline exhibit tracking the evolution of the credit crisis from 2006 to the present helps to clarify the current global predicament.

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Financial District

Museum of the Moving Image

Critics' pick

The Museum of the Moving Image is one of the city’s most dynamic institutions, devoted to all manifestations of movement in art. The building features a state-of-the-art 264-seat cinema, which shows programs daily. View artifacts including 19th century optical toys and modern video games, as well as recognizable objects from films.

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Museum of Sex (MoSex)

Situated in the former Tenderloin district, which bumped-and-grinded with dance halls and brothels in the 1800s, MoSex explores the subject within a cultural context—but that doesn’t mean some content won’t shock the more buttoned-up visitor. On the ground floor, “Action!,” which screens around 220 clips from more than 150 years of sex on film, includes explicit scenes from such (literally) seminal porn flicks as Deep Throat. Upstairs, highlights of the permanent collection range from the tastefully erotic to the outlandish.

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New York Hall of Science

Built for the 1964 World’s Fair, the Hall of Science demystifies its subject through colorful hands-on exhibits, with topics such as Marvelous Molecules and The Realm of the Atom. In summer, children can burn off their excess energy—and perhaps learn a thing or two—in the 30,000 sq ft outdoor science playground.

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New York Historical Society

Founded in 1804, the New-York Historical Society's archives include over four centuries of American artifacts. A renovation, completed in November 2011, has added numerous touch screens and interactive displays to illuminate the stories behind the museum's collection.

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Upper West Side

New York Transit Museum

Critics' pick

At this museum, located in an authentic 1930s subway station, visitors can climb aboard an exceptional collection of vintage subway and El ("Elevated") cars and explore a working signal tower. Exhibitions cover the history of the city’s rapid transit system, as well as au courant topics.

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Boerum Hill

Sony Wonder Technology Lab

The Sony Wonder Technology Lab provides a learning space for young people to explore current digital technology and learn about the future of innovations in the 21st century.

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The Tenement Museum

Critics' pick

This fascinating museum—actually a series of restored tenement apartments at 97 Orchard St—is accessible only by guided tour. Tickets are sold at the visitors’ center at 108 Orchard St; tours often sell out, so it’s wise to book ahead. Costumed "residents" give glimpses into the daily lives of immigrant clans that called the building home over the decades.

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Lower East Side