Summer camp for kids: Museum camps in New York City

A summer camp for kids at an NYC museum or other cultural institution is bound to be bursting at the seams with learning opportunities and resources.

By Time Out Kids editors |
 (Photograph: Kei Ota)
Photograph: Kei OtaSummer camp for kids: Queens Museum of Art Big Time Summer Art Thing
Summer camp for kids: American Museum of Natural History's Adventures in Science  
Summer camp for kids: Camp History at DiMenna
  Summer camp for kids: History Weeks
Summer camp for kids: Camp Intrepid  
Summer camp for kids: CMA Summer Art Colony
 (Brian Palmer)
Brian PalmerSummer camp for kids: Museum of the Moving Image Summer Media Camps  
 (Photograph:Tanya Ahmed (c) Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum)
Photograph:Tanya Ahmed (c) Solomon R. Guggenheim MuseumSummer camp for kids: Summerscapes Art Camp

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to summer camps in NYC

When looking for a summer camp for kids, the city's cultural institutions don't exactly come to mind as camp venues. But when we turned to NYC museums for our Camp Guide 2014, we found a wealth of great summer camp programming, from art camps at the Guggenheim and the newly renovated Queens Museum to a science-centric program at AMNH and a media-focused summer camp for kids—think moviemaking, video-game design and animation—at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria. And that's why we decided to create a new camp category this year for museum camps. Families already learn about art, science, history and social issues at NYC museums, which is why they make the perfect venue for a summer camp for kids. Read on for our picks of the best museum camps New York City has to offer.

Museum camps in NYC

Things to do, Camps

The Queens Museum Big Time Summer Art Thing for Kids

icon-location-pin Queens

Now with a new name, an entirely renovated building and more programming for families than ever, the Queens Museum (formerly the Queens Museum of Art), which reopened its doors last November, still offers its signature summer camp for young artists, where kids use the collections as their muse to craft their own works. In one session, campers make giant puppets inspired by the iconic “Panorama of the City of New York” and in another, they contemplate the concept of museum by creating a stop-motion project about unusual guests dropping by for a visit. Camp runs July 7–Aug 15, Mon–Fri 9am–4pm. Two-week session $600. Ages 7 to 11.

Things to do, Camps

American Museum of Natural History: Adventures in Science

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

It’s no wonder the institution that won our reader’s choice award for Best Museum is a huge hit with campers. What’s more, these weeklong programs let kids break the cardinal rule of museumgoing: no touching! They’ll investigate AMNH’s coolest exhibits through hands-on workshops, visits with scientists and guided tours of the collections. This year, depending on their age and interests, kids can choose from such topics as the disappearance of the Neanderthals, the mysteries of poisons found in nature and, of course, the museum’s beloved hoard of dinosaur bones. Camp runs June 30–Aug 29, Mon–Fri 9am–4pm. Middle-school camps: two-week session $1,100, one-week session $550; elementary-school camps: one-week session $550, three-day session $400. See website for a detailed list of camps. Ages 4 to 10.

Things to do, Camps

Camp History at the DiMenna Children's History Museum

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

History gets scientific at this camp, where both humanities lovers and future STEM students will find something that strikes their fancy. New-York Historical Society staff lead workshops in the chemistry of conservation, archival research and exhibition design, culminating in technology-based projects ranging from 3-D printing to digital history games. Camp runs Aug 18–21, Mon–Thu 9am–4pm. Four-day session $500. Ages 11 to 13.

Things to do, Camps

History Weeks

icon-location-pin Lenox Hill

Here, little history buffs get a taste of what NYC was like in the 19th century. The Touch Collection provides the perfect historic setting in which to play old-timey outdoor games, embark on scavenger hunts and make crafts (think churning ice cream and journaling with quill and ink). Camp runs July 7–11, Mon–Fri 8:30am–3pm (ages 9 to 12); July 14–18, Mon–Fri 9am–noon (ages 6 to 8). One-week session $250 (ages 9 to 12) or $175 (ages 6 to 8). Ages 6 to 12.

Things to do, Camps

Camp Intrepid

icon-location-pin Hell's Kitchen

Campers focus on a different aspect of the museum’s collections each week with themes like Intrepid Undercover, the Hudson River Is Our Home and, for future scientists in their swashbuckling phase, Pirate Life. Plus, there’s the added excitement of spending their summer aboard a real aircraft carrier, complete with the newly renovated Space Shuttle Pavilion. Camp runs June 16–Aug 22, Mon–Fri 9am–5pm. One-week session $550 before March 1, $650 thereafter; returning campers $500 before March 1. Sibling and member discounts available. Ages 5 to 13.

Things to do, Camps

CMA Summer Art Colony

icon-location-pin Manhattan

More than 60 classes make up this behemoth summer camp for tween and teen aesthetes, who’ll spend each week exploring a new visual arts theme, such as ceramics, printmaking and collage, as well as claymation, live-action film and music videos. Campers enrolled in fine arts classes at the Soho location take advantage of the arty ’hood with trips to nearby museums and galleries, while those on Governors Island have ample time to discover the isle’s landscapes and historic sites. New this year: a focus on older campers (ages 12 to 15) involving an artist-in-training program, time in the media lab and a build-your-portfolio class on Governors Island. •Children’s Museum of the Arts, 103 Charlton St between Greenwich and Hudson Sts (212-274-0986, •Governors Island, meet the staff at the Battery Maritime Building between 8:30 and 8:45am. Camp runs June 16–Aug 29, Mon–Fri 9am–5pm. Soho: one-week session $595, four-day session (week of June 30) $476 (ages 6 to 15). Governors Island: two-week session $1,700, one-week session $850, four-day session (week of June 30) $645 (ages 7 to 15). Ages 6 to 15.

Things to do, Camps

Museum of the Moving Image Summer Media Camps

icon-location-pin Astoria

At this Queens mecca for all things film, tweens and teens will work with the museum’s sophisticated computers and software to put together their own onscreen masterpieces. Children are divided into age groups (9 to 10, and 11 to 13) and choose from five weeklong sessions covering movies (July 28–Aug 1), video game design (Aug 4–8 and Aug 11–15) and animation (Aug 18–22 and Aug 25–29). Camp runs July 28–Aug 29, Mon–Fri 10am–4pm. Extended hours available for an additional fee. Three-week session $1,275, two-week session $900, one-week session $475. Ages 9 to 13.

Things to do, Camps

Summerscapes Art Camp

icon-location-pin Upper East Side

Creative kids can get an insider’s view of the coolest-looking building in New York and, of course, the exceptional galleries within it. Guggenheim educators help youngsters dream up their own work using paint, printmaking techniques, sculpture and collage. At the end of the program, they’ll get an exhibition of their own to show off their work to friends and family. Camp runs June 16–Aug 8, Mon–Fri 9:30am–4pm. Two-week session $900, one-week session $500. Ages 8 to 11.