Mother nature seems to have decided it’s spring in NYC! That means warmer weather and getting out of the house, and  probably some rain to go with it. Stay dry and head inside to one of these NYC museum exhibits for kids (and adults!) and then enjoy art outside later in the season. P.S.: Don’t miss this list of free museums in NYC, and if you’re looking for lesser-known NYC museums, click here!

FRESH PICKS

For an Urban Landscape Just for Little Ones: Superpowered Metropolis: Early Learning City

Superpowered Metropolis: Early Learning City,  is a new hands-on, interactive exhibit that invites visitors to step into a comic-book-inspired New York City where a dynamic trio of pigeons, Zip, Zap and Zoom, serve as guides. Designed for children ages six and under, the 1,500-square-foot exhibit was developed with experts from institutions like NYU, Columbia and Johns Hopkins to both teach parents about executive functions  like self-control, working memory, and mental flexibility and give kids some practice putting them into action. All that said, it's a lot of fun! Activities include: climbing to the top of a magical two-story Treehouse Headquarters equipped with a map, telescope, periscope, and slide to plan adventures; navigating colorful tunnels, tracks, and waterways at a multi-level Supercharged NYC Train Table; creating original city sounds with one-of-a-kind instruments in a Musical Subway Car, and chasing floating scarves at the Whimsical Wind Blowing Fountain. There's also "Baby Central Station", a mini learning hub inspired by Grand Central Terminal and specially designed for kids tow and under with climb-on trains, a starry sky and sensory stations. (P.S. While you're there, don't forget to check out Inside Art!)

Children’s Museum of Manhattan
212 West 83rd St.
Upper West Side
212-721-1234
Online: cmom.org

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photo: American Museum of Natural History

To See the World in a New Way: The Nature of Color

This new exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History highlights the color all around us, woven so tightly into our lives that we rarely stop to question what it is and how it works. Ponder (and find out) where the colors in diamonds and rainbows come from? How some animals have benefited by evolving to stand out, while others survive by blending in? Why some colors make us happy while others bring us down. Also: how did pink come to be associated with femininity in Western culture after centuries of being considered suitable for all? The Nature of Color also reveals how color carries information in nature—how organisms use it to find food, warn off predators, and conceal or reveal themselves—and across cultures, where different colors can signal a wide range of meanings, from good luck to power to a sense of urgency. Visitors will explore the physics of color in an immersive color-changing room and a light lab with hands-on activities to discover that white light is actually a mixture of colors; play a game show—on kiosks or from their mobile devices—that examines how colors affect emotions, alertness, perception of time, appetite, and much more; and “paint” without the mess in a floor-to-ceiling color play interactive just by moving their hands.

Opens March 9
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West & 79th Street
Upper West Side 
212-769-5100
Online: amnh.org

photo: Bobbito Garcia

For Hoops Fanatics: City/Game

A must for any fan of basketball, City/Game: Basketball in New York looks at the story of the sport in New York, everywhere it's played, from the school yard to the stadium. Relive historic highs and lows, and revisit legendary players like Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, WNBA trailblazer Nancy Lieberman, as well as current stars such as Queens-born Liberty star Tina Charles and the city’s latest headline player, Kevin Durant. From Rucker Park to Madison Square Garden, from jazz bands to sneaker stories, experience why basketball is truly the city game. Hot tip: buy a timed-entry ticket online and skip the line to get in. 

Through Jan., 2021
`1220 Fifth Ave. at 103rd Street
Upper East Side 
212-257-0416
Online: mcny.org

photo: New York Historical Society

For Some Amazing Ladies: Women March

March is Women's History Month! Celebrate that, as well as the centennial of the passing of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Through inspiring historical photos and video his exhibit looks at the many ways women have mobilized and organized throughout the history of the United States, spearheading the abolitionist movement, garment industry strikes and the Equal Rights Amendment. Note: Women March Family Day is March 8!

Through Aug. 30, 2020
New York Historical Society 
170 Central Park West at 77th St. 
212-873-3400
Online: nyhistory.org

photo: Liberty Science Center

To Get Wild: Wild Kratts: Creature Power!

Based on the popular PBS Kids series, Wild Kratts: Creature Power! is all about discovering wild animals and their "creature powers." Kids get to explore five distinct habitats and try out various behaviors of different animals. Visitors slip through underbrush like a jaguar, swing through trees like a monkey, ride a slide like an emperor penguin, and hang on a rope like a sloth in the tropical rainforest. Kids can learn about animals in the outback, like kangaroos, platypuses, and koalas, and become an Antarctic penguin and slide off an ice shelf, peer underwater, and balance on an ice floe. Then, it's time to get "miniaturized" and get a bug's eye view of the world. Of course, Chris and Martin Kratt are along for the ride, as well as other characters from the show. 

Feb. 1 - May 31
Liberty Science Center
222 Jersey City Blvd.
Liberty State Park
201-200-1000
Online: lsc.org

photo: New York Botanical Garden

For Incredible Blooms: The Orchid Show: Jeff Leatham's Kaleidoscope

The annual celebration of this exotic plant is back at the New York Botanical Garden for its 18th year. Taking the helm as designer is Jeff Leatham, famed artistic director of the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris and floral designer to the stars. Leatham’s bold and colorful vision unfolds through captivating installations and designs, transforming each gallery of the exhibition in the historic Enid A. Haupt Conservatory into a different color experience and visual effect, like the turn of a kaleidoscope. Thousands of orchids provide bursts of forms and colors—in purples, reds, oranges, and hot pink—revealed through overhead arches, vine-inspired ribbons, mirrored sculpture, dramatic lighting, and other artistic embellishments.

Through April 19
2900 Southern Blvd.
Bronx
718-817-8700
Online: nybg.org

photo: MoMA/2019 Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: John Wronn

For Blocks of Color: Judd

The first major U.S. retrospective dedicated to the work of Donald Judd (1928–1994) in over three decades, Judd explores the remarkable vision of an artist who revolutionized the history of sculpture, highlighting the full scope of Judd’s career through 70 works in sculpture, painting, drawing, and prints, from public and private collections in the US and abroad. The show will be the first full-scale introduction to the artist’s career for many viewers; it will be organized in chronological order to demonstrate an artistic vision that developed in both methodical and utterly unpredictable ways. (While you're there, don't miss Matisse's The Swimming Pool.)

March 1 - July 11
11 West 53rd St., between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
Midtown
212-708-9400
Online: moma.org

photo: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

To Sit Behind THE Desk: Meet the Presidents

Not only does this exhibit offer a view into what it's like to be the President of the United States, it gives visitors the chance to sit behind a version of the Presidential Resolute Desk in a recreation of the Oval Office during the Ronald Reagan administration. (The exhibit features hallmark's of Reagan's decor of the office, including a jar of jellybeans and Frederic Remington’s Bronco Buster bronze sculpture. Visitors can explore the Oval Office, hear audio recordings of presidential musings, and even pose for a photo op behind the power desk. Find the installation on the fourth floor. 

New York Historical Society 
170 Central Park West at 77th St. 
212-873-3400
Online: nyhistory.org

photo: Imagine Exhibitions

For Survival Skills and Ziplines: Survival: The Exhibition 

Hey, ya' never know! Survival: The Exhibition is the world’s first and only traveling exhibition that provides practical, real-world, and science-based techniques to prepare visitors of all ages for survival situations, from finding food and water in the wilderness to facing off with a bear. The interactive exhibition features nine zones with immersive scenic and theatrical elements that simulate extreme scenarios in a variety of settings, such as a rainforest, high mountains, extreme cold and the temperate forest. Each zone combines STEM concepts with hands-on challenges that teach the scientific principles behind key survival tactics. The exhibit culminates with the Adventure Zone Ropes Course and Zip Line! (You must be at least four feet tall and weigh between 35 and 275 pounds to do the course.) 

Tickets: $7 and museum admission, $16/adults, $13/kids
Feb. 15-Sept. 13, 2020
New York Hall of Science
47-01 111th St.
Corona
718-699-0005
Online: nysci.org

photo: The Alfredo Ramos Martínez Research Project

For Mexican Murals: Vida Americana 

Vida Americana brings together the work of Mexico’s three leading muralists—José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Diego Rivera—and shows it alongside pieces by their America contemporaries. The exhibit shows the dramatic influence the cultural renaissance that emerged in Mexico in 1920 at the end of that country’s revolution had on art not just in Mexico, but also in the United States. With approximately 200 works by sixty American and Mexican artists, Vida Americana reorients art history, acknowledging the wide-ranging and profound influence of Mexico’s three leading muralists on the style, subject matter, and ideology of art in the United States made between 1925 and 1945. 

Feb. 17-May 17
Whitney Museum of American Art 
99 Gansevoort St.
Chelsea
212-570-3600
Online: whitney.org

photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Nicholas Alan Cope

For a Must at The Met: About Time: Fashion and Duration

The inspiration for "the party of the year", The Met Gala, The Costume Institute's spring 2020 exhibition will celebrate the museum's 150th anniversary with a truly trippy-sounding show.  About Time will trace  the history of fashion from 1870 to the present "along a disruptive timeline" and explore how clothes generate temporal associations that conflate past, present, and future. Virginia Woolf will serve as the "ghost narrator" of the exhibition. A timeline of 120 fashions will unfold in two adjacent galleries fabricated as enormous clock faces and organized around the principle of sixty minutes of fashion. Each "minute"will feature a pair of garments—the primary work representing the linear nature of fashion and the secondary work its cyclical character. The exhibition will conclude with a section on the future of fashion, linking the concept of duration to debates about longevity and sustainability. (We don't expect the kids—or ourselves—to really grasp all that, but it's sure to be spectacular!) 

May 7 -Sept. 7, 2020
The Metropolitan Museum of Art 
1000 Fifth Ave. 
Upper East Side 
212-535-7710
Online: metmuseum.org

photo: New York Botanic Garden

For the Spring Sensation: Kusama: Cosmic Nature

Brace for impact. Kusama is coming to the New York Botanical Garden. Famed Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama will bring her singular vision to the NYBG, premiering new works throughout the garden that explore her lifelong fascination with the natural world. Her artistic concepts of obliteration, infinity, and eternity are inspired by her intimate engagement with the colors and patterns of plants and flowers. Expect new monumental sculptures Dancing Pumpkin (2020) and I Want to Fly to the Universe (2020) and a unique participatory installation—the artist’s first-ever obliteration greenhouse, Flower Obsession (2020), where visitors transform the interior with floral stickers. And yes, there will be a new Infinity Mirrored Room—Illusion Inside the Heart (2020), an immersive outdoor installation responding to changing light throughout the day and seasons. (Note you need a separate, $10 timed ticket for that.) Resistance is futile. #KusamaNYBG is coming for your feed in May. 

May 9-Nov. 11, 2020
Tickets: $35/adults; $33/seniors & students; $15/kids, free/two and under 
2900 Southern Blvd.
Bronx
718-817-8700
Online: nybg.org

photo: CMOM

For Art You Can Climb In: Inside Art at the Children's Museum of Manhattan

This new exhibit at the Children's Museum of Manhattan invites kids to explore larger-than-life art installations and giant sculptures by  11 contemporary visual artists. A sculpture allows children to move like a groundhog as they dwell in one of two burrows built to human scale; a spandex wall of tropical patterns invites kids to stretch, pull and punch their way through, and cylindrical sculpture encourages pint-sized visitors to crawl under and peek through a panorama of three-dimensional leaves. That's just the tip of the art iceberg! The show includes pieces by Adrienne Elise Tarver, Borinquen Gallo, Carlos Jesus Martinez Dominguez, Damien Davis, Joiri Minaya, Julie Ann Nagle, Leah Tinari, Roberto Visani, Tamara Kostianovsky,  and Yeju & Chat, and features hands-on workshops and pop-up performances of dance, theater and music. 

Children’s Museum of Manhattan
212 West 83rd St.
Upper West Side
212-721-1234
Hours: Tues.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Online: cmom.org

photo: Liza Lou (b. 1969), Kitchen, 1991-96. Beads, plaster, wood, and found objects, 96 x 132 x 168 in. (243.8 x 335.3 x 426.7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Peter Norton 2008.339a-x. Photograph by Tom Powel. © Liza Lou

For Crafty Kids: Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019

Calling all crafty kids and families! This new exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art shows how visual artists have explored the materials, methods, and strategies of craft from the mid century to now. Making Knowing highlights more than 80 works in museum's collection from over 60 artists, working with techniques and mediums such as weaving, sewing, pottery, textiles, thread, clay, beads and more. 

Through Jan. 2021
Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort St.
Chelsea
212-570-3600
Online: whitney.org

photo: New York Transit Museum/Mark Glucksman

For Train Crazy Kids: Reign of the Redbirds

This exhibit celebrates the 60th anniversary of the introduction of the R-26, the first of nine types of subway cars, that became synonymous with New York City. Delivered between 1959 and 1964, these subway cars collectively came to be known as “Redbirds”— because of the color they were painted from 1984 until retirement in 2003 in an effort to combat subway car graffiti. Any subway ride taken between 1959 and 2003 more than likely involved a one of these boxy and industrial-looking cars, as nearly 2,000 of them ran on every numbered line and several lettered lines. These cars are an icon of the New York City subway system, and  after taking in the exhibit, you can head downstairs to see some on view as part of the Transit Museum's vintage fleet. 

Through Sept. 13, 2020
Closed Mondays
New York Transit Museum
99 Schermerhorn St. 
Downtown Brooklyn
718-694-1600
Online: nytransitmuseum.org

photo: Brooklyn Children's Museum

For the Return of Roger the Sloth: Under the Canopy

The star of the Brooklyn Children's Museum, Roger the sloth, is back as part of a brand new exhibit, Under the Canopy. The show is in partnership with Little Ray’s Nature Centres, and this time, Roger is joined by a whole new cast of animal friends that live amidst the canopy layers of the rainforest. Visitors can meet the animals, learn about their homes, and understand the importance of protecting these special ecosystems.

Through May 17
Brooklyn Children’s Museum
145 Brooklyn Ave.
Crown Heights
718-735-4400
Online: brooklynkids.org

CATCH IT BEFORE IT GOES!

photo: Liberty Science Center

For A Video Game IRL: Angry Birds Universe

The Angry Birds have touched down at the Liberty Science Center! Angry Birds Universe: The Art and Science Behind the Global Phenomenon has visitors engaging with concepts in science, math, engineering and the arts as they explore this wildly popular game. Kids can use real sling shots to send the birds flying, build and race angry bird Go Karts, draw and animate their own Angry Bird, learn about the characteristics of real birds, and even scale a climbing wall. Read our guide to visiting Liberty Science Center with the kids here!

Through April 19, 2020 
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: Sloomoo Institute

For Slime Lovers: Sloomoo Institute

Yes, this is a thing. Sloomoo Institute is a sensory playground centered around slime. What does that mean? Vats and vats of slime, a slime pit to stomp bare feet in, a glow-in-the-dark cave, an EEG machine to see "your brain on slime", and an ASMR tunnel which will soothe and calm both the kids and you. (The slime here is made using Elmer's Glue and borax; wipes are provided throughout, to de-slime in between stations.) Visitors get to design their own slime (and take it home) and if you need more slime-related merch, there's a Sloomoo store as well. Dress in your get messy clothes and prepare to open your wallet: it's $38 a ticket. Sloomoo is here for a limited time only, leaving in the spring. 

Through April 2020
Sloomoo Institute 
475 Broadway
Soho
1-888-718-4253
Online: sloomooinstitute.com

photo: Children's Museum of the Arts

For Live Cricket Farms: Love Crickets, Save the Planet

Head to the Children’s Museum of the Arts to see live cricket farms on display as part of the museum's overall look at what "home" means. Love Crickets, Save the Planet by Jude Tallichet and Adam Chad Brody will showcase functioning cricket farms, original animations that explore cooking with crickets, kinesthetic cricket dancing with larger-than-life cricket projections, and participatory cricket concerts. This installation will give visitors the chance to observe these insects at a level of intimacy that few will have enjoyed before.  Also on view is the group exhibit that considers the concepts of "home" and "sanctuary", what they can mean for different people, and how we create homes and places of safety. Featuring the work of Emilie Clark, Tom Fruin, Todd Hido, Lucia Hierro, Ann Toebbe, Shinique Smith, and Letha Wilson the show asks visitors to join the conversation using the hashtag #HomeSweetHomeCMA. 

Dec. 19, 2019 — May 3, 2020
Children's Museum of Art 
103 Charlton St. 
Tribeca
212-274-0986
Online: cmany.org

photo: ©AMNH/R. Mickens

For a Returning Favorite: The Butterfly Conservatory

The butterflies are back at the American Museum of Natural History for their 22nd year. This popular exhibit features as many as 500 butterflies in a tropical, 80-degree, 1,200-square-foot transparent vivarium filled with lush greenery plants and blooming flowers. The butterflies come from all over the world, including Kenya, Costa Rica, Thailand, Malaysia and Australia, and include monarchs, zebra longwings and paper kites. In addition to seeing butterflies in flight and at rest, visitors can observe butterfly chrysalises, and learn about the insects, their important role in the planet's ecosystem and why they should be protected. 

Through May 25
Tickets: adults/$28; kids (ages 2-12)/ $16.50 (Butterfly Conservatory is an additional fee)
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West & 79th St.
Upper West Side 
212-769-5100
Online: amnh.org

AROUND FOR A WHILE

photo: Mimi O'Connor

For the Hottest/Coolest Show in Town: The Museum of Ice Cream

Is it a "museum"? We'll leave that up to you. But the pop-up that seemed to start it all, The Museum of Ice Cream, is back in NYC in a big way. The three-story immersive experience dedicated to ice cream (and all things fun) includes a serious spiral slide, an ice cream-themed playground, a "ride" on an interstellar subway to "Starlem", a mini disco party and an even bigger sprinkle pool than the first time around. (There's more, but why ruin the surprises?) Plus, lots of chances to eat sweet treats and a good vibes-inducing soundtrack. Honestly: we think kids might enjoy this iteration even more than grown-ups!

Tickets: $39; kids two and under are free 
The Museum of Ice Cream
558 Broadway
Soho
Online: museumoficecream.com

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.  

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

photo: The Museum of the Moving Image

For Puppets, Muppets & Bowie's Costume in Queens: The Jim Henson Exhibition

This wonderful look at master puppeteer Jim Henson's career, life and work is part of the Museum of the Moving Image's permanent collection, so you can see it any time. The show reviews his earliest creative efforts, contains sections dedicated to Sesame Street, The Muppet Show and Henson's other television and film projects. Created in cooperation with The Jim Henson Company, Sesame Workshop and The Muppets Studio, the show contains more than 500 pieces of archival material and media, making it a must-see for any Henson fan. Many of your favorite muppets and puppets are on display, and there are interactive activities too, like the chance to be a puppeteer yourself, or to construct your own muppet, using a selection of hair, noses, eyeballs, etc. Highly recommended! You can read our full write-up from when it opened here! 

Ongoing
The Jim Henson Exhibition
Museum of the Moving Image
36-01 35th Ave.
Astoria
718-777-6800
Online: movingimage.us

photo: Museum of Illusions

Museum of Illusions

Created in Zagreb, Croatia (with additional outposts in Vienna, Kuala Lumpur, and beyond) the museum is less technicolor extravaganza, and more exercise for your brain (in a good way). But don’t worry: fun photo ops still abound.

Visitors can explore more than 70 elements and experiences that include "illusionistic rooms", optical illusions, and puzzles. Every "piece" in the museum is accompanied by a clear and concise explanation of what is causing or creating the illusion; mathematical, biological, and psychological concepts are all touched upon, as are perception, vision, and how the human brain works.

This museum is an outstanding (and very fun) way to engage kids with complex scientific principles, and help them understand through experience. The well-curated gift shop allows you to take home some of the brain-bending fun. PS: Looking for a fun indoor birthday party idea? You can host one here.

Ongoing
Tickets: $19/adults; $15/kids six - 15; $17/students, seniors, military; $53/family of four
Daily, 9 a.m. - 10 p.m.
77 Eighth Ave.
Chelsea
212-645-3230
Online: newyork.museumofillusions.us

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

—Mimi O’Connor

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