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Photograph: Courtesy Okabaloo

The best art camps 2020 has in store for NYC kids

Art camps 2020: A time for little New Yorkers to explore, unleash their creativity and get messy

By Danielle Valente and Allie Early

Budding Monets and van Goghs need to explore all of the art camps 2020 has in store for little New Yorkers—they're a great way to keep creativity flowing when school's out. 

But don't expect your typical paint routine: These art classes for kids spice up the summer months with offerings like animation, architecture and glass blowing. Youngsters will even head to trips to the best kids' museums in NYC and cool family attractions for inspiration. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to summer camps in NYC

In between pool visits, summer weekend getaways and outdoor park visits, be sure to check out all of the cool camp offerings this year. Summer 2020, we're ready for you!

Art camps for kids in NYC

Photograph: Courtesy Okabaloo

1. Okabaloo Summer Day Camp

Things to do Camps Astoria

Your kids’ imaginations will get electrified by Okabaloo’s weekly art programs. Each themed session—think classes like Rainbow Engineers and Art History or, say, Broadway Stars and Superheros—includes crafting, music performances, storytelling, free play and other fun stuff. Grades K-5. 

Courtesy UrbanGlass

2. UrbanGlass Youth Camps

Things to do Camps Fort Greene

No need for markers or crayons here: UrbanGlass offers a unique take on art projects for little creators looking to experiment with glass. During the weeklong summer courses, teachers carefully guide campers as they learn about glassblowing and how to make neon signs. After this experience, perhaps a successful Etsy shop will be in your child’s future! This year, take a gander at "Text Destroyers: Intro to Neon" an Instagram-worthy offering for tweens and teens. Campers learn how to design luminous neon decals that comprise funky alphabets to create a quirky, text- basedmasterpiece.Yes,your artists will (safely) play with fire. Ages 11–18.

Courtesy Launch Math + Science Centers

3. Launch Math's "I Wanna Be...An Animator" Camp

Things to do Camps Midtown West

If your youngsters are feeling inspired by their favorite shows on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, they can design a cool character of their very own! Launch Math teaches coding, offscreen animation and other tricks, so aspiring illustrators can make their visions a reality. Ages 5–6. 

Photograph: Courtesy Children's Museum of the Arts

4. Children's Museum of the Arts Summer Art Colony

Things to do Camps Manhattan

Sign your kids up for an amazing week-long art summer program led by Children's Museum of the Arts' talented Teaching Artists! Choose from one of two locations (SoHo and Governors Island) and let your kids dive into cool concentrations like photograpy, painting, film, illustration, printmaking, fashion design and more. Classes also include supervised play from the start and end of the day. Ages 6–15.

Photograph: Palmyra Geraki and Ivy Harrison

5. Center for Architecture Camp

Things to do Camps Greenwich Village

Young New Yorkers who never cease to be amazed by skyscrapers can imagine and build their own models—after they’ve learned how to handle the design challenges of really tall structures. Similar five-day programs exist for treehouses and bridges, and other offerings allow future architects to study digital design using 3-D computer modeling or old-school freehand drawing. For the latter, campers explore the city to sketch various architectural wonders. In all sessions, participants take home the projects they create. Grades 3–12.

Courtesy Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum/Scott Rudd Photography

6. Cooper Hewitt Design Camp

Things to do Camps Upper East Side

Where better to fine-tune your young creative’s skills than at one of the best museums in the country? Two educators guide each 25-kid class through a project that teaches design vocabulary and a four-step design process: defining problems, generating ideas, prototyping and testing. Visits to galleries and exhibitions are included, as are fun outdoor activities. At the end of each weeklong session, students display their work in an open exhibition. (Campers must bring their own lunch and snacks.) Ages 6–13.

Textile Arts Center Summer Camp
Photograph: Courtesy Textile Arts Center

7. Textile Arts Summer Day Camp

Things to do Camps Midtown West

Students choose between two concentrations: weaving, in which kids learn to use a loom and read patterns; and surface design, which allows them to experiment with a variety of fiber and textile arts like printing, dyeing, sewing, drawing, and felting. Most days are spent at the studio working on projects; some are devoted to a textile-related field trip, and other afternoons feature an Open House where campers can display their projects for family and friends. Completed projects may include bags, toys, fabrics and more. Ages 5–11.

Painted Cloud Birthday Party
Photograph: Matt Marquez

8. The Painted Cloud's Art Summer Camps

Things to do Camps Williamsburg

Children who consider art their favorite subject will love this bright, colorful Brooklyn studio’s offerings. Campers spend their summer days creating masterpieces worthy of special display in their homes that go beyond basic projects. Each week has a different theme, including printmaking, collage, textile and sculptures. After working hard in the studio, they’ll cut loose at the nearby park to run through the sprinklers and put that creativity to use in the form of free-time games. Ages 4–10.


9. CoLab Summer Camp

Things to do Camps East Village

CoLab was started by CultureHub, a global community founded by La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club and the Seoul Institute of the Arts. These free summer workshops are ideal for young artists who are interested in combining art and technology; in a playful atmosphere, a professional artist will introduce your little ones to new methods and techniques. Ages 14–20. 

Courtesy Staten Island Children’s Museum

10. Staten Island Children's Museum's Arty Camp

Things to do Camps Staten Island

If your child would much rather spend time at the crafts table than playing sports or engaging in outdoor activities, send them to this weeklong arts-centric session. Future Frida Kahlos can discover different techniques and styles of art by studying the methods and works of famous artists who have come before them, such as Mark Rothko, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock. Then, they create their own pieces using a variety of media. Ages 5–9.


11. Wet Paint! Art Studio Summer Camp

Things to do Camps Financial District

With NYC as its muse, Wet Paint teaches children to use printmaking, monoprinting, clay, plaster casting and other art forms to craft a stunning masterpiece. From drawing in Central Park to touring the Met and the MoMA, this experience is a great pick for future artists and architects alike. Ages 9–14. 

12. Play:ground NYC Summer Camp

Things to do Camps Governors Island

Make the most of the warm weather on Governors Island: Play:groundNYC offers 11 weeks of activities at the Yard, the island’s 50,000-square-foot playground that’s chock-full of cool materials (think cardboard, rope, wood planks and tires) for kids to tinker with. Budding engineers and artists will discover how to use new tools tobuildtheirvisions, both solo and with the help of friends. Not only that, they’ll get to explore the rest of NYC’s favorite summer spot! Ages 6–12.


13. Barking Cat Studio Art in the City Summer Day Camp

Things to do Camps Windsor Terrace

There are so many incredible art museums and public works to explore around NYC, but who has the time to hit them all? This camp makes it possible, getting kids’ creative juices flowing with daily Art & Play adventures in the city. Each week of the program explores a special theme with outings to match. The groups head back to the studio for lunch after the field trip, then put their fresh ideas into an art project before a full afternoon of games, yoga and dance. Early drop-off and extended day options are available for an additional fee. Ages 5–12.


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