New years aren’t just about looking back; they’re about looking ahead. That’s why we’re sharing intriguing museum exhibit openings we’re looking forward to in 2020. They’re all about LEGO, beloved characters, art, science and history, too. We even found a few with larger-than-life sculptures your kids won’t believe. Scroll down to start planning.
The National Museum of African American Music -Nashville, TN
Set to open in the summer of 2020 in Music City, this highly-anticipated museum will be the only museum dedicated to educating, preserving and celebrating more than 50 music genres and styles that were created or inspired by African Americans. The 56,000 square foot museum will be located at 5th and Broadway, in the heart of Nashville, and will include artifacts, objects, memorabilia, clothing and state-of-the-art technology to showcase different narratives and genres.
National Museum of African American Music
Learn more at nmaam.org
Wobbleland – Sausalito, CA
Don’t miss this brand-spanking-new BADM exhibit that’s set to open this winter. In the exhibit, tots and preschoolers explore a kitchen sink fit for a giant’s house. A cantaloupe slice big enough to be a rocker? They’ve got one. A slice of cheese with holes they can crawl through? It’s right in the corner. How about a faucet big enough for them to run through? Let’s do it. Gorgeous in its design, ingenious in its conception, it gives kids the chance to finally do what they’ve always wanted to—play with their food! Wobbleland was developed by artist Marisol Rendón in collaboration with The New Children’s Museum.
Bay Area Discovery Museum
Jan. 18, 2020
Kusama: Cosmic Nature – NY, NY
When you and your crew wander the 250-acre New York Botanic Garden this spring, you’ll see eye-catching creations you won’t find anywhere else. That’s because renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama's stunning installations will be planted alongside the regular botanical greenery that usually grows there. Keep your eyes peeled for her mesmerizing mirrored installations, organic forms, biomorphic collages and oversized sculptures. You’ll find new works here too, including a participatory greenhouse installation, that will evolve throughout the exhibit.
New York Botanic Garden
May 9 – Nov. 1, 2020
Barbie: You Can Be Anything – Indianapolis, IN
Barbie may be in her 60's, but she’s still on the move! She’ll be inspiring kids to work toward a better world in this brand-new museum exhibit that focuses on finding excitement, challenge and fulfillment in the work kids choose. In addition to being able to explore over 15 possible careers, and learn about the more than 200 Barbie has had in her lifetime, kids will also be privy to Barbie’s origin story and learn lots about women who have shattered glass ceilings throughout history. It’s time to get excited about this play-based experience with universal appeal.
Indianapolis Children’s Museum
Opening May 2020
Nature Connects - Nationwide
Calling all LEGO lovers! There’s always time to stop and smell the roses … unless those roses are sculpted from the world’s favorite building bricks. That’s just what you’ll find at Sean Kenney’s Nature Connects exhibits, where the natural meets the unnatural in playful harmony. Catch sight of larger-than-life hummingbirds, bees and brick-sculpted butterflies in sharp contrast to the natural surroundings. For LEGO lovers who dream big, this one’s for you.
Jan. 13 - May 10, 2020
Norfolk Botanical Garden
Jan. 17- June 7, 2020
North Carolina Arboretum
May 9 – Aug. 2, 2020
San Antonio Zoo
San Antonio, TX
May 22 – Sept. 7, 2020
June 20 – Sept. 13, 2020
Grand Rapids Public Museum
Grand Rapids, MI
June 20 – Jan. 10, 2021
July 17 – Nov. 1, 2020
Black Creativity (50th Anniversary) - Chicago, IL
Black Creativity turns 50 this year! Opening on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the exhibit highlights important contributions by African Americans to the sciences, technology, engineering and medical fields throughout history. The exhibit centers around a juried art exhibit that showcases groundbreaking work by professional and amateur artists alike. After your kiddos find their inspiration here, it’s time to head to the Innovation Studio where they can tackle real-world problems with everyday materials in an effort to solve them. What will your kids innovate?
Museum of Science and Industry
Jan. 20 – Mar. 1, 2020
Chihuly at Cheekwood Estates -Nashville, TN
Not only is Cheekwood Estate & Gardens one of our favorite botanical gardens for families, you now have another reason to make it a vacation destination. From spring through to fall of 2020 you'll be able to wander this amazing estate's newly reopened Carrel Woodland Sculpture Trail featuring large-scale installations of Chihuly's glass sculptures. You'll find them throughout the estate, including in the Cheekwood Mansion art gallery.
Cheekwood Estate & Garden
Apr. 25-Nov. 1, 2020
Learn more at cheekwood.org
Game Changers: Video Games & Contemporary Art – Boston, MA
How about a twofer in 2020? Not only is MAAM, Boston’s new free-to-the-public contemporary art museum celebrating a February opening, but it’s got a graphically engaging new exhibit to boot. Game Changers features an array of artists, including Cao Fei, Tracey Fullerton, Momo Pixel and Paloma Dawkins, set on challenging stereotypes and preconceived notions about the gaming world. They work in everything from paint and sculpture, to groundbreaking playable art, telling their own and others’ stories, pixel by pixel. Game on!
MassArt Art Museum
Feb. 22 – Apr. 19, 2020
Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep: Shear Genius! – St. Paul, MN
If your kids wish they lived at 62 West Wallaby Street or could visit Mossy Bottom Farm on a warm day (or even if they don’t), they won’t want to miss this new exhibit featuring some of Aardman Animation’s most beloved characters. Constructive problem solving is at the heart of this exhibit that really gets kids playing. They can build things in Wallace’s Workshop, aim for the stars in Wallace’s bright orange rocket or tend to their sheep (sweet plush ones) alongside Shaun down on Mossy Bottom Farm. Expect lots of dramatic play and creative thinking when you visit this exhibit.
Minnesota Children’s Museum
Opening Summer 2020
Maya – Cincinnati, OH
They discovered zero, played with rubber balls long before foursquare was a thing, and when it comes to chocolate, Hershey’s doesn’t have a thing on them. Who were they? That’s the question Maya: The Exhibit sets out to answer. Visitors will get to sift through over 300 artifacts, including hieroglyphic panels, jade sculptures and more in order to learn about this ancient culture made up of mathematicians, inventors and astronomers. The coolest part? Finding out the ways in which ancient Mayan discoveries continue to shape our daily lives. Who’s ready to learn?
Cincinnati Museum Center
Mar. 14 – Sept. 7, 2020
Hayao Miyazaki at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures - Los Angeles, CA
Grab the popcorn because the much-anticipated Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is slated to open this spring. Film buffs of all ages will marvel at the collection of big-screen artifacts on display, like Dorothy’s ruby slippers, the Cowardly Lion’s caramel-colored mane, even an “extraterrestrial headpiece” from the sci-fi horror flick, Alien. We’ve got our eyes on the Hayao Miyazaki retrospective. Learn everything you ever wanted to know about this masterful storyteller and co-founder of Studio Ghibli, as you get up close with storyboards, character designs, cels and backgrounds from some of his most celebrated works, like Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. Break out these animated classics for your kiddos to enjoy all over again.
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
Opening Spring 2020
Dream Machine at The National Children's Museum - Washington D.C.
Brace yourselves Washington—the National Children’s Museum is reopening in late January 2020. That’s right, over 30,000 square feet of exhibit space in the Ronald Reagan Building is being transformed into a wonderland of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) exhibitions. At the heart of the museum is the 50-foot wide Dream Machine exhibit, a cloud-inspired climbing and slide structure aimed to transport kids into a dream with netting, ropes, two slides, mobiles and balls. Along with contemporary play space design, the museum is celebrating its rich history by going old school with a Bubble Room exhibition (inspired by the original H Street Children’s Museum from decades ago). So get popping!
National Children's Museum
Opening January 2020
Art of Precision: The Engineered Sculpture of Christopher Bathgate - Bethlehem, PA
At the intersection of industry and art, you’ll find Christopher Bathgate’s sculptures. He’s a self-taught maker’s maker who uses industrial machinery, like automated milling machines and metal lathes, to make an intriguing mix of delicate sculpture and heavy metal production that will inspire makers of all ages to try something new—a new material, new machine or a new angle. Don’t forget to stop by Family TinkerTime for All Ages (second Sundays) when you’re there.
National Museum of Industrial History
Jan. 11 – May 31, 2020
Going Places-The Technology of Transport – Las Vegas, NV
Put your kids in the driver’s seat when Going Places opens in Las Vegas this spring. They’ll have a chance to ride hovercraft, race friends on incumbent bikes, even fly an aircraft because this exhibit is all about going places … and how we got there. It takes a look at 150 years of movement innovation, from our earliest forms of transport, through our most cutting-edge designs, all focused on just one thing—getting from point A to point B. A chance for kids to explore real-world obstacles, like gravity and distance, this exhibit lets them know that yes, they can move when they put their minds to it.
Las Vegas Children’s Museum
May 23 – Sept. 20, 2020
Weather to Climate: Our Changing World – Schenectady, NY
Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to play a weather forecaster against a green screen? Your future weather channel hosts can give it a try when they visit this timely interactive traveling exhibit. Kids can also explore the difference between weather and climate, plus have a chance to create some serious weather of their own (think tornadoes and thunderstorms) under controlled conditions, of course. It’s experiential learning at its best, and you don’t need an umbrella to enjoy it.
Feb. 7 - May 1, 2020
Hot Wheels: Race to Win – St. Louis, MO
The iconic orange track and ever-recognizable pocket-sized cars. Yes, your kid’s favorite pastime is at the heart of this exhibit that’s all about STEM … and speed. You’ll work together as a team to design and test out cars, aiming to break records. Through it all, kids will get hands-on experience with the science behind these sleekly designed die-cast beauties. Add in authentic race gear and memorabilia that’ll have moms and dads longing for the good ol’ days, and you’ve got an exhibit the whole fam can enjoy.
The Magic House St. Louis Children’s Museum
June 6 – Sept. 13, 2020
150th Anniversary of Golden Gate Park - San Francisco, CA
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco's pride and joy, is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2020, and there's an entire year-long celebration planned. Besides all the classic GGP happenings (think Bay to Breakers, Opera in the Park, Outside Lands and Comedy Day), there's a special Community Day planned for April 4th, 2020, on the park's actual birthday. In honor of the anniversary, an observation wheel will start offering rides (service runs through March 1, 2021). You'll find the wheel near Golden Gate Park’s Music Concourse, the outdoor plaza near the de Young Museum, the California Academy of Sciences and the Japanese Tea Garden. The wheel features 36 fully-enclosed, climate-controlled gondolas that each seat six passengers. $18 per person; $12 for seniors and children under 13; the 12-minute ride will be free on Community Day.
For more info visit: goldengatepark150.com
—Allison Sutcliffe & Ashly Grzyb