Looking to get a little culture with the kids this summer? As always, New York City is hosting some amazing exhibits the whole family can enjoy, no mater your taste and interests. From The Whitney’s Biennial to a celebration of Walt Whitman, camp fashion at The Met, space exploration in Queens, LEGO creations in Jersey, there are plenty of museums where you and the kids can keep cool and get cultured this summer. Find the NYC museum outing for you and the family below!
For a Don't-miss Show On Graffiti: Beyond the Streets
There are many amazing shows in NYC this summer, but this might be the one we're most excited about. (Full disclosure: We're a bit in the tank for the Beastie Boys and Guerilla Girls.) Curated by graffiti historian and urban anthropologist Roger Gastman, Beyond the Streets takes over two massive floors of Twenty Five Kent on the Williamsburg waterfront, and showcases more than 150 premier practitioners of graffiti and street art, from pioneers to artists pushing the genre forward today. Beyond highlighting the different forms and applications of street art, the show explores its expression in different regions and groups, such as west coast, east coast, surf and skate culture.
It's all great, but highlights include a gallery dedicated to the Beasties, (and collaborators/tour buddies RUN-DMC) filled with 40 years of ephemera, an interactive cartoon drawing room from Danish artist HuskMitNavn, a comprehensive retrospective of Shepard Fairey's work, puppets from Paul INSECT and BAST, a studio where everything (everything) is made from cardboard by Bill Barminski, a functioning tattoo parlor by Bert Krak and Alexis Ross, work from Jenny Holzer, and so much more. Plus, a walk-in "record store" like back in the day, with albums for browsing (and playing), gig posters, Yo! MTV Raps trading cards, etc. (Note: there is some mature content, so be on the lookout. Polaroids from Dash Snow feature nudity, and near the INSECT/BAST puppets there's a peep-show installation with oversized models of male and female genitalia.) Still: Go go go!!
June 21-August 2019
Tickets: $25/adults; $12/kids 6-11; free/kids 5 and under
Wed.-Sun., 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Beyond the Streets
25 Kent Ave.
For a Major Survey of Contemporary Art: The Whitney Biennial
It comes but once every other year. Introduced by the Museum’s founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, The Whitney Biennial has been taking the pulse of the contemporary artistic moment since 1932, and is the longest-running exhibition in the country charting the latest developments in American art. This year's show is curated by Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley, and showcases 75 artist's and collectives' work in sculpture, installation, film and video, photography, performance, and sound. Come for the pulse of American art today, stay for the amazing views, and then have lunch at Bubby's and walk The Highline. (Pro tip: buy your tickets in advance online.)
Heads up!: The Whitney’s Biennial Family Opening is on Saturday, June 22 from 10:30 a.m to 3 p.m.. The museum will have special family-friendly performances by Biennial artist Laura Ortman, as well as hands-on art projects both inside and on the Whitney’s terraces. There will also be Family Activity Guides, so families can explore the 75 artists included in this edition of the Biennial on their own. Get the full scoop here!
The Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Ganservoort St.
For LEGO Masterpieces and a Lion King-inspired show: Liberty Science Center
LEGO enthusiasts of all ages should make their way to the Liberty Science Center this summer. "Sean Kenney's Art Made with LEGO Bricks" explores animal endangerment, the balance of ecosystems, and mankind’s relationship with nature through massive LEGO pieces, all created by Brooklyn artist Kenney. Some sculptures depict wild species such as pandas, tree frogs, polar bears, and hummingbirds, while others depict eco-friendly actions humans can take—from protecting an animal's habitat, to planting a garden, to using a bike instead of a car. The show also includes a hands-on play zone where guests can dream up and build their own wild creations using thousands of bricks.
For younger visitors, there's The Lion Guard, inspired by the Disney Jr. series of the same name. (Note: both Sean Kenney and the Lion King are premium exhibits, which are an additional fee.)
And if you do want to head outside, Jack Horner's Dino Dig is back for another season of excavation on June 29!
Heads up: do yourself a favor and buy tickets in advance online. The line for tickets can be long. (Read our full guide to visiting the Liberty Science Center with Kids here!)
June 22- Sept. 2
Closed on Mondays
Tickets: $23.75/adults; $19.75/kids 2 -12
Liberty Science Center
222 Jersey City Blvd.
Liberty State Park
For an Out of This World Show: Above and Beyond – The Ultimate Flight Exhibition
"Above and Beyond – The Ultimate Flight Exhibition" at the New York Hall of Science is part of the museum's celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Mission, AKA the moon landing. The show includes flight simulation, augmented reality, touch-tables, design and skill challenges, virtual reality and more to immerse visitors in the wonders of flight, space travel and aerospace innovation, design and technology. While there, check out the film Apollo 11: First Steps Edition, which showcases the real-life moments of the first lunar landing, with never-before-seen footage and newly discovered audio recordings.
New York Hall of Science
47-01 111th St.
To Celebrate Breaking Barriers: E.V. Day: Breaking the Glass Ceiling
This gravity-defying exhibition at The Children's Museum of the Arts encourages viewers to aim high and break through their own invisible barriers. Artist E.V. Day is known for her gravity-defying suspension sculptures that explore themes of science fiction, space, gender, and humor. Her new site-specific installation in the central Cynthia C. Wainwright Gallery of the museum hovers over visitors. Turnbuckles, monofilament, and angle iron are used to build multiple suspended trajectories in the ceiling, with the columns and walls serving as mounting points. Chains, brass rods, elastic cords, and hardware build tension, highlight resistance, and imply velocity in the piece. The ceiling installation is complemented by shattered glass images displayed around the perimeter of the gallery referencing cosmic aspirations — the strong desire to achieve something that might feel just outside of one’s reach.
Breaking the Glass Ceiling is the final show of a three-part exhibition cycle that comprises CMA’s 30th anniversary CIVICKIDS: Make Art. Make A Difference campaign, a year-long series of exhibitions, community events, and digital art that foster civic engagement and shared community pride through art-making
Through Oct. 27
103 Charlton St.
For Double the Fun With Sendak and Whitman: The Morgan Library and Museum
Head to the Morgan for a double dose of culture from two masters: Maurice Sendak and Walt Whitman.
You and the kids no doubt know Sendak's work from his classic books for children, but the writer and illustrator also designed sets and costumes for the theater. "Drawing the Curtain: Maurice Sendak’s Designs for Opera and Ballet"is the first museum exhibition dedicated to this aspect of his career, and includes storyboards, preparatory sketches, costume studies, luminous watercolors, and meticulous dioramas from Mozart’s Magic Flute, Janáček's Cunning Little Vixen, Prokofiev’s Love for Three Oranges, and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. Plus: work for an opera based on his picture book Where the Wild Things Are. The exhibition includes nearly 150 objects drawn primarily from the artist’s bequest to the Morgan of over 900 drawings—wow! (Through Oct. 6)
Also at the Morgan, "Walt Whitman: Bard of Democracy", coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the poet's birth. The exhibition explores Whitman’s process of self-invention, from his early years as a journalist, through the early 1850s when Whitman began to write more privately and poetically, to his final years. Several of Whitman’s notebooks will be on display, as well as his portraitist’s copy of Leaves of Grass (1855) and the famous letter written to Whitman by Ralph Waldo Emerson commending that book. (Through Sept. 15)
Tickets: $22/adults; $14/senior, free/12 and younger
Closed on Mondays
225 Madison Ave. at 36th St.
For a Wet & Wild Exhibit: Dynamic H20
The perfect museum exhibit to beat the heat in the summer, the Children's Museum of Manhattan's Dynamic H20 also helps kids learn about the water cycle, how New York City gets its water supply, and the role water plays in our local environment. The 800-square-foot outdoor exhibit provides lots of opportunity for interactive, splashy fun; kids can release a rain shower in one area, follow the water as a "river" and create waterfalls and dams, and even play marine scientist of chemical engineer. (Read our full write-up here from when it debuted.) While you're at CMOM, don't forget to check out "Let's Dance" on the lower level, where kids of all ages can explore dance through dress up, choreography, and even an interactive dance portal with visiting artists.
Children’s Museum of Manhattan
212 W. 83rd St.
Upper West Side
For Tongue in Cheek Chic: Camp: Notes on Fashion
The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute's blockbuster fashion exhibit has arrived; it's big party, the Met Gala, happened in May. 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
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.
Tickets: adults/$28; kids (ages 2-12)/ $16.50
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West & 79th St.
Upper West Side
To Get Focused: The Power of Intention: Reinventing the (Prayer) Wheel
This show, featuring interactive works by international artists including Monika Bravo, Alexandra Dementieva, Youdhistir Maharjan, and Charwei Tsai, explores the idea of intentions as a source of power, and how our intentions can empower us to create positive change for ourselves and others. Inspired by Tibetan prayer wheels, The Power of Intention brings together select examples of traditional and contemporary art to illuminate the relationship between our intentions, commitments, and actions. Don't miss the Wheel of Intentions, an interactive installation in the Museum lobby created by Potion and Ben Rubin. Visitors type in their intention on a keyboard, and the illuminated text of it travels up the stairway of the lobby, along with the words of others. PS: The Rubin's annual free block party is July 21, from 1- 4 pm this year!
Through Oct. 14
Tickets: $19/adults; $14/seniors, free/12 and younger
150 W. 17th St.
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
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
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