Looking to get a little culture with the kids this winter? As always, New York City is hosting some amazing exhibits the whole family can enjoy, no mater your taste and interests. From landmark exhibits dedicated trailblazers of the 20th century and a look at the future of transportation, to kid-friendly science and cutting edge art and storytelling, we promise there’s a museum show for you. Plus: the butterflies are back, and so is kid’s week at the Intrepid! Find the NYC museum outing for you and the family below!

photo: ©AMNH/C. Chesek

For a Deep Dive on a Big Dino: T. Rex: The Ultimate Predator

The American Museum of Natural History knows what side its bread is buttered on. (Apologies to the blue whale: it's the institution's incredible collection of, and exhibit on dinosaurs.) Now, the museum is going all-in with a show dedicated to perhaps the most famous dino of all: T rex. The tiny-armed, big bodied creature gets the AMNH treatment with a show that examines the evolution of the animal (it used to be small), its sensory mastery of predation, its rapid growth from the size of a chicken to one of a truck, and more. The exhibit features a life-size reconstruction of T. rex complete with patches of feathers, real fossils and casts, large-scale video projections that bring T. rex to life, and the chance to explore real data from fossil specimens, CT scans, and microscope images at a tabletop Investigation Station. Plus, a virtual reality experience enables visitors to work together to build a T. rex skeleton.  

Opens March 11
Tickets: adults/$28; kids (ages 2-12)/ $16.50
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West & 79th St.
Upper West Side 
212-769-5100
Online: amnh.org

ADVERTISEMENT

photo: Metropolitan Museum/Jeremy Scott for Moschino

For Tongue in Cheek Chic: Camp: Notes on Fashion

If it's May, it must be time for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute's blockbuster fashion exhibit (and ball). This year, the museum celebrates camp (the phenomenon, not the summer destination). Susan Sontag's 1964 landmark essay, 'Notes on Camp' provides the framework for the show, which features more than 250 objects from the 17th century to the present. The show promises to explore "how the elements of irony, humor, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality, and exaggeration are expressed in fashion." Your children are New Yorkers, so they may get all that, but all we know is that the pieces look spectacular, and we think the kids will feel the same way. 

May 9 - Sept. 8
The Met Fifth Ave. 
Fifth Ave. (between 82nd and 83rd)
Upper East Side
212-535-7710
Online: metmuseum.org

photo: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

To Turn It Up To 11: Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll

If you and the kids like to rock out together, don't miss Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll, which showcases more than 130 instruments used by some of (most of) the biggest names in popular music. Like, who, you ask? Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Keith Richards, Prince, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Jerry Garcia, and many more. The ladies of rock are represented too: Joan Jett, Joni Mitchell, Kim Gordon, St. Vincent, Tina Weymouth, and Lady Gaga are among them. (Gaga's piano from her ArtPOP performance on Jimmy Fallon is featured.) Beyond the instruments, more than 40 posters, vintage costumes, and performance videos are part of the show, which is produced in partnership with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

April 8-Oct. 1
Tickets: $25/adults; $12/students; kids under 12/free; New York State residents pay what you wish, as do NJ, NY, and CT students
The Met Fifth Ave. 
1000 Fifth Ave.
Upper East Side 
212-535-7710
Online: metmuseum.org

photo: Stephen Mallon

For Train-Crazy Kids: Sea Train Subway Reef Photos By Stephen Mallon

Someone in your family has probably heard that decommissioned subway trains are dumped in the ocean to serve a second life as an artificial reef for marine life. Now you can see it for yourself. Sea Train: Subway Reef Photos By Stephen Mallon showcases the photographer's images, captured between 2001 and 2010, and many of them are seen here for the first time. The symbols of industry and busy city life, which carried millions of passengers for decades are dropped by brightly-colored cranes off hulking barges. Note that this (free!) show is at the Transit Museum's Grand Central Terminal Annex, located in Grand Central in the Shuttle Passage—not the museum in downtown Brooklyn. Also--the Annex Gallery & Store does not allow strollers. 

Through June 16
Tickets: free
Grand Central Gallery Annex & Store
Grand Central Terminal 
Lexington Avenue and 42nd Street
Midtown
212-878-0106
Online: nytransitmuseum.org

 

photo: Liberty Science Center

To Solve Puzzles and Visit Africa in Jersey: The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes and The Lion Guard

The Liberty Science Center is currently hosting two visiting exhibits—one for older kids, one for little ones.  Big kids will love the interactive puzzle adventure (pictured above), The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes (solve puzzles, find clues, crack the case!) and for younger visitors, there's  The Lion Guard (opening Feb. 16), inspired by the Disney Jr. series of the same name. (Permanent exhibits include a suspended Infinity Climber, a pitch black "Touch Tunnel", "Eat and Be Eaten" with naked mole rats, tamarin monkeys, leaf cutter ants and more, "I Explore", a play area for smaller kids, and the new "Microbes Rule!", featuring a gallery of colorful art made with microscopic organisms. And we haven't even mentioned the world-class planetarium with shows for people of all ages!)

Heads up: do yourself a favor and buy tickets in advance online. The line for tickets can be long.

Closed on Mondays
Tickets: $23.75/adults; $19.75/kids 2 -12
Liberty Science Center
222 Jersey City Blvd.
Liberty State Park
201-200-1000
Online: lsc.org

photo: Brooklyn Museum/Nickolas Muray

To Marvel at a Master: Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Introduce the kids to one of the greats early with the largest exhibition in the United States devoted to Frida Kahlo in 10 years. The show explores Kahlo’s creative vision and self-crafted identity through a presentation of the her clothing and other personal items, paintings and drawings, photographs, film and documentation, as well as related objects from the Brooklyn Museum’s collection. This show is ticketed separately and it is strongly recommend that you buy tickets online in advance. Prices vary depending on what day of the week you go. (Note: the museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but this exhibit will be open seven days a week.)

Through May 12
Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway
Crown Heights
718-638-5000
Online: brooklynmuseum.org

photo: AKC/David Woo

To See Four-legged Friends: Museum of the Dog

Just in time for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (the Super Bowl for canines), The American Kennel Club debuts its Museum of the Dog on Park Avenue. (Previously located in St. Louis, the museum is now housed in the same building as the AKC.) Expect fine art such as paintings and sculptures dedicated to dogs big and small, as well as tributes created using modern technology. 

Tickets: $15/adults; $5/kids 12 and under, $10/seniors 65 and older 
101 Park Ave. 
Upper East Side
212-696-8360
Online: museumofthedog.org

photo: The Morgan Library and Museum

For a Precious Show: Tolkien: Maker of Middle Earth

Calling all Tolkien nerds! (And we mean that in the best possible way.) Get yourself to the Morgan Library & Museum, stat! On view through May 12, Tolkien: Maker of Middle Earth is a must-see for fans of the author and his magical, mystical world featured in The Fellowship of the Ring and beyond. Produced in cooperation with the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford with the support of The Tolkien Trust, this exhibit features Tolkien's earliest drawings and sketches of what would eventually become the setting for his epic tales. Early maps and manuscripts, as well as personal photographs and memorabilia are part of the show, which includes gorgeous large-scale versions of the original art. This is the only stop in the U.S. for this show, so don't dally! 

225 Madison Ave.
212-685-0008
Midtown
Online: themorgan.org

photo: Museum of the City of New York

For A Private Look At An American Hero: In the Dugout With Jackie Robinson

Lovers of baseball, Brooklyn, and of course, sports legend Jackie Robinson should check out this exhibit dedicated to the first African American to play in the major leagues as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. On the occasion of the 100-year anniversary of his birth The Museum of the City of New York presents an intimate look at the athlete and man, with photos (many never exhibited before), memorabilia, and rare footage of the Robinson family. Note: Family Day is February 19!

Through Sept. 15
Tickets: Adults/$18; 19 and under/free
1220 Fifth Ave.
Upper East Side
212-534-1672
Online: www.mcny.org

For a Classic: Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History

Step into a summer escape at the Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History. Inside a 1,200-square-foot vivarium, visitors will mingle with up to 500 fluttering, iridescent butterflies. Better yet, you will be among blooming tropical flowers and lush green vegetation in 80-degree temperatures! In this enchanted garden, monarch, zebra longings, paper kites and other butterfly species flutter among visitors and plants. The butterflies come from various parts of the world including farms in Florida, Costa Rica, Kenya, and Thailand. Not only is this a beautiful experience, you and your tots will learn about the roles butterflies play in ecosystems, the relationships between butterflies and other animal species, and even about the color scales that form on butterfly wings. (Be sure to check out the amazing Unseen Oceans exhibit while you're there!)

Through May 27
Tickets: Butterfly Conservatory additional cost from general admission; pricing varies. Visit web site for options. 
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West & 79th St.
Upper West Side
Website: amnh.org

—Mimi O’Connor

RELATED STORIES:

Our Favorite Under-the-Radar NYC Museums

Our Favorite Spots to Play Indoors in NYC

Vanishing New York for Kids