The fall art season is in full swing and NYC museums once again prove that cultural edification can be family-friendly and fun. Check out these six must-see exhibits on view now, which offer everything from Matisse masterworks and “Mad Men” art to cooing live pigeons and cartoon craziness.

MoMA Matisse 01

photo: Alice Perry

“Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs” at MoMA

The Art: It’s the hottest ticket in town, and the lines prove it. The Museum of Modern Art’s “Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs” is the most extensive presentation of Matisse’s cut-outs ever mounted. In these works, the artist used scissors to cut colored paper and then arranged them into compositions. Featuring over 100 cut-outs, the exhibit highlights Matisse’s child-like exuberance for art, color, and life. Although you’ve probably seen much of Matisse’s work on coffee mugs and T-shirts, seeing the originals with your own eyes will  help you realize that yes, this artist was a master.

Fun for Kids: Kids can easily relate to Matisse’s deceptively simple artwork. Many have already unknowingly created artwork inspired by Matisse, such as collages and paper dolls. MoMA is hosting two exhibit-related workshops designed for kid artists: Drawing with Scissors for kids ages five to seven, and Cut It Out! for the younger set.

Insider Tip: Timed tickets are required for this hugely popular exhibit. MoMA members, however, may enter at any time by showing a valid membership card.

Museum of Modern Art
11 W. 53rd St.
Through Feb. 8, 2015
Daily, 10:30 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.; Fri. 10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
$25/adults; free for children under 16 and Fri., 4-8 p.m.


photo: Michael Scoggins. Explosion Drawing #5, 2014. Marker, prism color on paper. Courtesy of the Artists and Freight + Volume Gallery

“Drawn to Language” at Children’s Museum of the Arts

The Art: Considering that most kids (and parents too!) today are more adept at handling the keyboard than the pen, the Children’s Museum of the Arts exhibit “Drawn to Language” is a much-needed reminder that handwriting is an art. In this show, words and letters on canvases are given personality through shape, color and texture. Top artists like Jack Pierson, Ed Ruscha and Jenny Holzer have work on display in the exhibit.

Fun for Kids: Young museum visitors will especially dig fun artwork like Samuel Jablon’s mirror-adorned collage “Get Dirty” and Michael Scoggins’ “Explosive Drawing”, a supersized notepaper filled with doodles. During the exhibit’s run, CMA is offering a ton of art-meets-word workshops like “Wooden Block Letter Reproduction” and “Anthropomorphic Alphabets.”

Children’s Museum of the Arts
103 Charlton St.
West Village
Through Jan. 11, 2015
Mon. & Wed., noon-5 p.m.; closed Tues.; Thurs. & Fri., noon-6 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
$11/person; pay what you wish on Thurs., 4-6 p.m.


RT-We Won't Be Any Trouble_Mac Conner_1953_Courtesy of MCNY.jpg
 photo: “We Won’t Be Any Trouble” by Mac Conner, MCNY

“Mac Conner: A New York Life” at Museum of the City of New York

The Art: One of New York’s original “Mad Men,” Mac Conner was a brilliant illustrator whose advertising images stood out from the pack during New York City’s golden age of publishing after WWII. His heart, soul and humor are evident in the more than 70 original artworks on display in Mac Conner: A New York Life at the Museum of the City of New York.

Fun for Kids: In many of Conner’s illustrations, children are the stars of the show, in work ranging from cold medicine advertisements to images accompanying magazine stories. Be sure to check out one of the family workshops like “Covering Conner,” where you create your own book cover, or “Mad for Mac” during which kids can design their own ad for the museum.

Insider Tip: What’s really fun about this show is seeing the original artwork as drawn by Conner — not just copies of ads from Life magazine. You can actually see and appreciate the ink blotting and different gradations of color.

Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Ave.,
Upper East Side
Through Jan. 19, 2015
Daily, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Suggested admission: $10/adults; free for children under 12


Brooklyn Museum kites

photo: Alice Perry

“Crossing Brooklyn” at the Brooklyn Museum

The Art: The artwork in the “Crossing Brooklyn” exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum is as varied as the borough itself. Featuring more than 100 works from 35 artists, the show includes virtually every medium — from sculpture and installation to video and performance. This survey underscores Brooklyn’s reputation as a robust and vibrant creative center.

Fun for Kids: The show has a ton of unexpected and quirky art pieces, such as a birdhouse with live cooing pigeons inside. Kids will also gravitate toward the life-size horse made from cork; visitors are invited to write a note and pin it to the sculpture’s base. And don’t forget to look up in the rotunda to see kites decorated with huge photos of kids.

Insider Tip: FYI: In the rotunda area, there are some photographs that include nudity. Make sure all of the art is appropriate for your child before you take them through.

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Pkwy.
Prospect Heights
Through Jan. 4, 2015
Wed. & Fri.-Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
$16/adults, free for children


MMI Chuck Jones 03

photo: Alice Perry

“What’s Up, Doc?” at Museum of the Moving Image

The Art: Two words: Bugs Bunny. Or better yet: Chuck Jones, the wildly (or shall we say, “Wile E.”) inventive and talented animator behind Bugs, Daffy Duck, Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote and plenty of others. The Museum of the Moving Image’s exhibit “What’s Up, Doc: The Animation Art of Chuck Jones” celebrates Jones’s amazing ability to create cartoon characters with big-sized and distinctive personalities that will likely outlive and outlast Dora and SpongeBob. The exhibit boasts 136 original sketches and drawings, monitors screening 23 of Jones’s films and interactive stations.

Fun for Kids: Kids will immediately dive for the bean bag chairs to watch cool-before-its-time Duck Amok. At the interactive animation station, kids can take on the role of director and create moves for Jones’s characters. At the Drop-In Moving Image Studio on Saturdays, kids can direct their own stop-action flick using Jones’s artwork as a starting point.

Insider Tip: Strollers are not permitted in the exhibition and interactive sections of the museum.

The Museum of Moving Image
36-01 35 Ave.
Through Jan. 19, 2015
Wed. & Thurs., 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri., 10:30 a.m.- 8 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 11:30 a.m.- 7 p.m. 
$12/adults; $6/children; free for children under 3; free Fri., 4-8 p.m.


photo: marcos stafne

photo: Marcos Stafne, Brooklyn Children’s Museum

“More Than Meets the I” at Brooklyn Children’s Museum

The Art: “More than Meets the ‘I’” at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum is a hands-on and interactive science exhibit that gets kids excited about science — specifically, concepts that you can’t see with the naked eye. While the words “nanotechnology” and “molecular biology” will surely induce a zoned-out state in most kids, the super cool stations at this exhibit will jolt your kids awake and translate those big ideas into digestible bite-size pieces.

Fun for Kids: This is one exhibit where the phrase “Don’t touch” will never pass your lips. Each area encourages budding scientists to touch, test and learn. The big kid-pleaser station is Commodore the Robotic Fish. Using a touch screen, kids can control the movements of Commodore who is made with a 3-D printer and swims in a real, gigantic aquarium.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum
145 Brooklyn Ave.
Crown Heights
Through Jan. 19
Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
$9/person; free Thurs., 3-5 p.m. and every third Thurs., 3-7 p.m.


What’s your must-hit exhibit of the season? Tell us in the comments below!

— Alice Perry