The holidays, and winter weather are officially here! Which means at least some days, you’ll need some things to do inside with the kids. NYC steps up with lots of museum exhibits the kids (and you) will enjoy. Catch a special holiday train exhibit with Richard Scarry, see amazing gizmos from 18th century Europe, meet a sloth in the flesh, and experience one of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Rooms before it goes. (There will be a wait for that last one.) 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 hot tickets to holiday shows for kids in NYC! Need some ideas on how to do Christmas in New York with kids? Check out our bucket list for 2019 here!



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

photo: New York Historical Society

For Lowly Worm and Train Fans: Holiday Express: All Aboard to Richard Scarry's Busytown

The New York Historical Society's annual train show gets a special treatment this year,  reimagined to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Busytown author and illustrator Richard Scarry. The installation showcases the artwork and graphics of Scarry, including characters like Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm, alongside the Jerni Collection toys. Children and adults can also experience dynamic displays exploring the workings of the railroad, the services it provides, and the jobs required to keep people and goods moving. Fun addition include custom-made Busytown vehicle-themed benches and photo ops with Busytown characters throughout the gallery. Also: you can pick up an "I Spy" scavenger hunt at the 77th St. entrance and take your whole family on an adventure through the exhibition. 

Check out the DiMenna Children's History Museum's December calendar for a full roster of Holiday Express programming, including a Dec. 14 & 15 visit from Huck Scarry, Richard Scarry's son, and Vacation Week events.

Nov. 1- Feb 23
New York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
Upper West Side 

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.

For Incredible Gadgets Made for Kings:  Making Marvels: Science and Splendor at the Courts of Europe

Be dazzled and amazed by the glittering collections of valuable and entertaining objects created for royal families throughout Renaissance and early Baroque Europe. Making Marvels: Science and Splendor at the Courts of Europe shows the complex ways these intricate and stunning objects— including clocks, automata, furniture, musical instruments, jewelry, paintings, sculptures, and print media—expressed noble status and the right to rule. Highlights include: the "Dresden Green" (the largest flawless natural green diamond in the world, weighing 41 carats and in its original 18th-century setting) and "The Draughtsman Writer" (a late 18th-century writing automaton that inspired the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret and its movie adaptation). Expect suspense, surprise, and dramatic transformations!

Through March 1, 2020
The Metropolitan Museum of Art 
1000 Fifth Avenue

photo: Brooklyn Children's Museum

For a Sloth IRL: Survival of the Slowest

We'll cut to the chase: yes, your child (and you) can meet a real, live sloth at this exhibit. (His name is roger.) Now that that's out of the way, Survival of the Slowest at the Brooklyn Children's Museum features 19 distinct habitats with live animals. In addition to Roger, there's a blood python, a roughneck monitor lizard, and many more. Each day this exhibit offers up-close experiences with slow and small species that survive and thrive in a world where large, strong, and fast animals are often at the top of the food chain. Survival of the Slowest prompts families to appreciate the different evolutionary paths of these incredible creatures, and showcases the value of deliberation in our fast-paced city. The exhibit also gives young visitors the chance to explore concepts of biology and evolutionary science. Live animal presentations are offered throughout the day to educate, entertain, and most importantly, connect visitors with wildlife and nature.

Catch the live animal presentations, dubbed "The Slow Show: Survival of the Slowest" at the following times:

11:00am–11:30am, 1:30pm–2:00pm, 3:30pm–4:00pm, 5:30pm–6:00pm

Through Sun., February 2
Brooklyn Children's Museum 
145 Brooklyn Ave. 
Crown Heights 

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. 

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

photo: Queens Museum

For Goofy Gadgets: The Art of Rube Goldberg

What's a "Rube Goldberg" machine? Head to this show to drive the concept home! This exhibit chronicles all aspects of the artist’s 72-year career, and prominently features Goldberg’s crowning artistic achievement: his invention drawings. Highlighting their unique burlesque of our modern age of invention, this section explores how Goldberg’s zany contraptions caught the popular imagination and became—as he put it—“a symbol of man’s capacity for exerting maximum effort to achieve minimal results,” while making him a cultural icon. The exhibition concludes with a vivid survey of Goldberg’s output during his final decades and with a celebration of his lasting influence on popular culture. And, you and the kids can give one a try: the show is accompanied by a newly-commissioned, viewer-operated multimedia machine, inspired by Goldberg’s invention drawings.

Through Feb. 9
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
Queens Museum 
New York City Building
Flushing Meadows Corona Park

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

photo: © 2019 David Tudor The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Heidi Bohnenkamp

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 reopened 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 features live programming and performances, and an innovative second-floor platform for education invites visitors to connect with art that explores new ideas about the present, past, and future. Meanwhile street-level galleries are 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!)

11 W. 53rd St.


photo: Liberty Science Center

For Little Ones: Dinosaur Train: The Traveling Exhibit

Also at Liberty Science Center, Dinosaur Train: The Traveling Exhibit is based on the popular PBS show of the same name and is the museum's exhibit for young learners. Kids can learn basic facts about life sciences, natural history and paleontology, while checking out real and replicated fossils, hopping the train to the three Ages of Dinosaurs and learning about herbivores, carnivores and more. Plus! Buddy the Dinosaur stops by for a meet and greet on select days! (Check the LSC website for times and dates.) 

Through Jan. 20, 2020
Closed on Mondays
Tickets: $23.75/adults; $19.75/kids 2 -12
Liberty Science Center
222 Jersey City Blvd.
Liberty State Park

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.

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: 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: 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

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 

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: 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! 

The Jim Henson Exhibition
Museum of the Moving Image
36-01 35th Ave.

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: Brooklyn Children’s Museum 


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