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Summer 2013: New exhibitions for families at NYC museums

When it rains it pours—at least it does at NYC museums. A wealth of fun new exhibitions have hit town, with dinos, unicorns and yes, even rain to explore.

 (Photograph: Virginia Rollison)
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Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Rain Room by rAndom International at the Museum of Modern Art

 (Photograph: Luciana Golcman)
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Photograph: Luciana Golcman

Dino Safari at the Bronx Zoo

 (Photograph: Jena Cumbo)
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Photograph: Jena Cumbo

"Frogs: A Chorus of Colors" at AMNH

 (Courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
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Courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Unicorn in Captivity South Netherlandish, ca. 1495–1505 Wool warp, wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts 368 x 251.5 cm The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1937 (37.80.6)

 (Courtesy Odyssey Marine Exploration)
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Courtesy Odyssey Marine Exploration

Odyssey's "Shipwreck!: Pirates and Treasure" at Discovery Times Square

 (Courtesy MoMA)
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Courtesy MoMA

"Claes Oldenburg: The Street and The Store" at the Museum of Modern Art

 (Photograph: Fiora Watts)
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Photograph: Fiora Watts

"A Year with Children 2013" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

 (Image: Sabrina Brady)
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Image: Sabrina Brady

Doodle 4 Google 2013 prize winner: Coming Home by Sabrina Brady

 (Courtesy Liberty Science Center)
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Courtesy Liberty Science Center

"Block Party" at Liberty Science Center

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"Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body" at Liberty Science Center

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Courtesy of Nathan Sawaya

 (Red Grooms)
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Red Grooms

Rockefeller Center (1995. Mixed media: painted wood, plastic, foam, toy trees and shrubbery in a Plexiglas case with electrical components. 60 x 56 1/2  x 28 1/2 in. On loan from Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.

 (Courtesy MoMA PS1)
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Courtesy MoMA PS1

Rendering of Party Wall by CODA, PS1's summer 2013 courtyard installation

Summer 2013 is nearly upon us, and we're reeling from all the family-friendly new exhibitions that have opened in the past few weeks—or are poised to open in June—at NYC museums. From the Cloisters' 75th anniversary show on unicorns and MoMA's Rain Room to AMNH's "Frogs" and Discovery Times Square's show on Nathan Sawaya's artful Lego creations, there's something for everyone. True, we can't get enough of the city's best playgrounds, summer movie hits, and outdoor fairs and festivals, but summer shows at NYC museums rock too: They're usually air-conditioned, they're often free for kids, and you get to learn and see something new. Plus, you'll prevent your kids from succombing to that most dreaded of summer afflictions: learning lag. Happy museumgoing—and happy (almost) summer!

New exhibitions for summer 2013

"Dinosaur Safari"

Just in time for summer zoo visits, the Bronx Zoo debuts Dinosaur Safari, a guided wagon tour past life-like, animatronic dinosaur species—from the vegetarian, long-necked Brachiosaurus and imposing Tricerotops to the iconically scary Tyrannosaurus Rex—that illuminates the phenomenon of adaptation. Accompanying the exhibit is a new theatrical show, Adaptations! A Dinosaur Musical, which debuts on opening weekend at the Asia Theater (May 25–27 at 12:30, 1:15, 2:30, 3:30pm); various meet-and-greets throughout the summer (including Ice Age's costumed characters Sid and Scrat May 25–26 at 1, 2:30, 3:30pm); fossil impressions, Ice Age crafts or dinosaur-themed projects; and "Dinosaurs Rock," an exhibit of life-size dinosaur artifacts and fossils at Grizzly Corner (July 27–Aug 11 11am–4pm), with special presentations on weekends (Sat, Sun 1, 2,:30, 3:30pm). All ages.

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"Frogs: A Chorus of Colors"

Re-created habitats contain more than 200 live frogs from such diverse locales as Bolivia, Vietnam, Mexico and Russia. Amphibian fans can search for diverse species like the the golden mantella frog, which is less than an inch long, learn about frogs' evolution and biology, and get hands-on at interactive education stations. All ages.

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"Search for the Unicorn"

To celebrate the 75 years since the museum's founding, the Cloisters presents an exhibition based on one of its most famous collections: the Unicorn Tapestries, seven individual wall hangings that depict a hunt for a magical unicorn. The tapestries will be the centerpiece of a larger exhibition featuring diverse media from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance related to the magical and little-understood creatures. During the opening weeks, several of the plants depicted in the tapestries will be featured in the museum's Bonnefont garden. All ages.

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"Shipwreck: Pirates & Treasures"

This pirate-themed show presents more than 500 artifacts found by deep-ocean expeditions the world over—from ancient bottles to stashes of silver—and gives kids the chance to explore virtual shipwrecks with various interactive exhibits. A highlight of the exhibition is the shipwreck of the Civil War–era SS Republic, found by Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (the show's producer), in 2003; it conveys much of what daily life was like back in the late 1800s. Ages 4 and up.

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"A Year with Children 2013"

Close to 100 imaginative, carefully crafted works of art make up this exhibition, all created by kids at 11 NYC public schools as part of the Guggenheim's Learning Through Art program. Mini museumgoers will no doubt be inspired by the work—photographs, drawings, painting, sculpture and site-specific installations—their peers have executed. All ages.

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"Doodle 4 Google"

The annual nationwide contests asks students (grades K-12) to submit their own version of the Google logo based on the 2013 theme: "My Best Day Ever." In addition to seeing the winning design on the Google homepage for 24 hours on May 23, the top submissions from each of the 50 states, judged on such criteria as artistic merit, creativity and ability to communicate, are on view at AMNH through July 14. This year's winner: Sabrina Brady from Wisconsin. All ages.

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"Block Party"

Foam, cardboard and wooden blocks make up this enormous interactive exhibit in which kids of different ages act as imagination engineers. At the Building Blocks station, the littlest kids can play with wooden columns, arches, mini vehicles and human figures to create their own world, while their older siblings can build life-size foam houses, dinosaurs, moats and robots at Imagination Playground or hitch together notched wooden shapes—fabricating the likes of animals, forts or furniture—in the Thinker Linkers area. Finally, at Creative Cardboard, youngsters of all ages put together cardboard boxes and tubes to design anything from space stations to skyscrapers. Ages 2 to 12.

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"Inside Out/Outside In"

This fifth annual exhibition celebrates artwork created by NYC students and teaching artists. Various techniques and materials are on display in the works, which include paintings, drawings, sculptures and stop-motion animation. Stop in during regular museum hours to visit the showcase or attend the opening reception (Thu June 13 4–6pm) during CMA's "pay as you wish" hours. All ages.

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"Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body"

Based on the best-selling book, this summertime exhibition answers the questions that only kids could come up with. What's lodged in blisters and zits? What causes gas? Using animatronic exhibits peppered with interactive games, kids can explore all the disgusting details to their hearts' delight. All ages.

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"The Art of the Brick"

This exhibition showcases the work of artist Nathan Sawaya, whose intricate sculptures are made entirely of Lego bricks. From swimmers in the water to detailed skulls, the works are imaginative, curious and sometimes funny, and are bound to appeal to kids on multiple levels. All ages.

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"Red Grooms' New York City"

Each of the eight pieces in this show of work by Red Grooms portrays Grooms's design techniques, from mixed media to paint. Among the highlights is the 3-D piece Rockefeller Center, which pulsates with that famous corner's energy. Workshops inspired by the show, such as Pop-Art Construction (3-D model making), Get Groomed! (creating a Groomsesque "Sculpto-Pictorama") and Double Decker New York: Above and Below (building a two-tiered NYC sculpture). Kids can also contribute to an ongoing, NYC-themed mixed-media installation. All ages.

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Party Wall

The winning project of MoMA's prestigious Young Architects Program must provide three things for visitors to PS 1's outdoor courtyard: shade, seating and water. For its 14th year, the museum has selected an installation by CODA (Caroline O'Donnell of Ithaca, New York) as its temporary urban landscape, on view in the courtyard throughout the summer. The enormous steel frame, balanced with recycled wood from old skateboards and fabric containers full of water—which is projected into a fountain below and produces a luminous effect at night—will serve as a backdrop for the outpost's summer events, like the Warm Up concert series and other lectures, performances and film screenings. All ages.

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