The changing of the seasons in New York means a new crop of culture, and that’s especially the case in the fall. Autumn 2019 is no exception, with new fall museum shows for kids dedicated to everything from Medieval knights, Paul Revere and design icons, and a new work from Japanese genius Yayoi Kusama. (Plus, a few shows from summer you can still catch!) Read on to find the NYC museum exhibit for you and your family! P.S.: Looking to take the kids to the theater? Here are our picks for fall 2019 shows to see!



photo: The Art of the Brick

For LEGOmaniacs: The Art of the Brick

For the ultimate exhibit of LEGO sculpture, head to the New York Hall of Science for the famed The Art of the Brick. Featuring more than 100 works made from more than one million LEGO by and artist Nathan Sawaya, the exhibit includes fan favorites ( Yellow, pictured above), new works such as a 20-foor Tyrannosaurus Rex re-imagined versions of some of the world’s most famous art masterpieces, such as Michelangelo’s David, Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. In addition, Sawaya created a 20-foot Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton (comprised of over 80,000 LEGO bricks). Visitors can get hands-on with an interactive area, “The Science of the Brick,” where they can try their hand at different LEGO brick building challenges, games and a free play area. There is an additional $7 admission fee to The Art of the Brick. 

Sept. 28-Jan. 26
47-01 111th St.

photo: Museum of Modern Art

For an Old Standby Newly Expanded: MoMA

After taking seven months off to do some serious expansion and renovation, the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown is reopening its doors on October 21. Developed by MoMA with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with Gensler, the expansion adds more than 40,000 square feet of gallery spaces, meaning more art to see in new and  interdisciplinary ways. A studio space in the heart of the museum will feature live programming and performances, and an innovative second-floor platform for education will invite visitors to connect with art that explores new ideas about the present, past, and future. Meanwhile street-level galleries will be free and open to all on an expanded ground floor bringing art closer to people on the streets of midtown Manhattan. (Pssst! MoMA is one of our favorite family memberships, and now is a great time to join!)

Re-opens Oct. 21
11 W. 53rd St.

For a Funky, Free Show of Emerging Artists: Portal Governors Island

It's no secret that we love Governors Island, and shows like this are part of the reason why. Previously known as the Governors Island Art Fair, Portal: Governors Island is a free, large-scale, independent art fair over 80 full solo exhibits, side-by-side throughout the historic buildings and green spaces of Colonels Row. Produced by 4heads, the show is up every weekend in September from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Weekends in September, 11 a.m.- 6 p.m.
Tickets: free
Governors Island 

For Knights in Shining Armor: The Last Knight: The Art, Armor, and Ambition of Maximilian I

The Last Knight: The Art, Armor, and Ambition of Maximilian I will examine the profound significance of European armor at the dawn of the Renaissance, through the lens of Emperor Maximilian I's (1459–1519) remarkable life. On view only at The Met, The Last Knight will coincide with the 500th anniversary of Maximilian's death, and is the most ambitious North American loan exhibition of European arms and armor in decades. Including more than 180 objects selected from some thirty public and private collections in Europe, the Middle East, and the United States, The Last Knight will explore how Maximilian's unparalleled passion for the trappings and ideals of knighthood served his boundless worldly ambitions, imaginative stratagems, and resolute efforts to forge a lasting personal and family legacy.

Oct. 7 - Jan. 5, 2020
1000 Fifth Ave.
Upper East Side 

photo: New York Historical Society

For the Real Story on a Famous Ride: Beyond Midnight: Paul Revere

"The British are coming! The British are coming!" These words will forever be linked to Massachusetts patriot, silversmith, and entrepreneur Paul Revere, who was immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1861 poem “Paul Revere’s Ride.” But as this exhibit shows, his genuine accomplishments are often eclipsed by the legend of that midnight journey. Featuring more than 150 objects, this groundbreaking exhibition subverts previous understanding of the innovative businessman while exploring his career as a silversmith, printmaker, and pioneering copper manufacturer. Organized by the American Antiquarian Society, Beyond Midnight showcases Revere’s engravings from their unparalleled collection; glimmering silver tea services; everyday objects such as shoe buckles, thimbles, and medical tools; and important public commissions like a bronze courthouse bell, which reveal the many facets of this versatile artisan’s career.   

Bonus for kids: Paul Revere exhibition will feature family-friendly labels and touch objects for kids to explore the fact and fiction surrounding Revere and his midnight ride. Additionally, historical interpreters (people in costume playing the role of Revere and others) will be at the Museum on select weekends.  

Sept. 6, 2019- Jan. 12, 2020
Tickets: $22/Adults; $6/kids 5- 13, free/kids four and under
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West at 77th St.

photo: David Zwirner Gallery

For a New Infinity Mirror Room: Yayoi Kusama at David Zwirner

The high priestess of polka dots and amazing mirrored rooms returns to the David Zwirner gallery late fall 2019. While there's not much info (or images—shown here is a previous installation by the artist) the exhibition will feature paintings, sculptures, an immersive installation and a new Infinity Mirror Room. Expect lines. (Long lines.) 

Tickets: free
Nov. 9 - Dec. 14
537 W. 20th St. 

photo: Brooklyn Children's Museum

For Tales and Tails: Reading Zoo

The Brooklyn Children's Museum highlights animal stories, natural habitats and its collection of animal taxidermy with the exhibit Reading Zoo. The show "visits" three different North American environments— the freezing Arctic, the cool Northeast Coast, and the lush Northeast Forest. In each one, visitors will find taxidermied animals to observe, books that feature our animal friends to read, challenges to match the tracks and scat that animals leave behind, and opportunities to create and act out original stories. Then visit the exhibit's research station to learn more about faraway places on the globe and the amazing animals found there.

Through Oct. 6
145 Brooklyn Ave.
Crown Heights

photo: Terry O'Neil/Brooklyn Museum of Art

For a Far Out Show: Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion

This debuted in July to, appropriately, coincide with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, but it's sticking around until January. Dedicated to the trailblazing designer with a futuristic aesthetic, this show features more than 170 objects from the 1950s to the present, including haute couture and ready-to-wear garments, accessories, photographs, film, and other materials drawn primarily from the Pierre Cardin archive. Check out his avant-garde Space Age designs executed in unconventional materials, and see why his work was worn by international models and film stars from Brigitte Bardot and Lauren Bacall to Alain Delon, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Raquel Welch. Note: The museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, and advance ticket purchase is recommended. 

Through Jan. 5, 2020
Tickets: $20/adults; $12/students and seniors, $8/children 4 - 12

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway

photo: Jenna Bascom/Museum of Arts and Design

For Iconic Illustrations From a Woman Entrepreneur: Vera Paints a Scarf 

Celebrating the vibrant work of Vera Neumann, Vera Paints a Scarf features her work and her contributions to the field of American design. Neumann was among the most successful female design entrepreneurs of the 20th century, and an originator of the American lifestyle brand. (Martha owes her.) Over the course of her career, which spanned from her label’s debut in 1942 to her death in 1993, Neumann produced an iconic line of women's scarves all signed with a cursive “Vera” and stamped with a ladybug, as well as thousands of textile patterns based on her drawings, paintings, and collages. This exhibit is the first to comprehensively examine her career—and highlights the keys to her success: her joyful and inventive aesthetic, democratic design ethos, fusion of craft and mass production, and clever marketing.

Through Jan. 26
Tickets: $16/adults; $12/students, free/18 and under 
2 Columbus Circle 
Upper West Side


photo: Mimi O'Connor

For a Don't-miss Show On Graffiti: Beyond the Streets

Great news! One of our favorite happenings of the summer, Beyond the Streets has been extended through September!  (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-September 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. 

photo: Whitney Museum of American Art

For Your Last Chance at a Big Show: The Whitney Biennial

Catch it before it goes! (The show closes September 22.)  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.
Meatpacking District

photo: Morgan Museum and Library

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. 
Murray Hill

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 

photo: Filip Wolak

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 
Closed Tuesdays
150 W. 17th St.

photo: Children's Museum of the Arts

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

Read our full guide to visiting the Children's Museum of the Arts here! 

Through Oct. 27
103 Charlton St.


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 

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.

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.

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

—Mimi O’Connor

main image: David Zwirner


Our Favorite Under-the-Radar NYC Museums

Fall in! Where to Pick Your Own Apples Near NYC

Vanishing New York for Kids