Huzzah! Many of our favorite NYC museums for kids are open again, after a long, but necessary wait. As with most things (like apple-picking, or bowling, or hitting the free pool) things are a bit different in fall 2020, but the great news is that the museums are open and ready for you, with new policies to keep everyone safe. Read on for the latest on what museums are open, new (and returning) exhibits and what to know before heading out!

photo: AMNH

The American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History re-opens to the public on September 9, and you can see favorites like the Blue Whale and the dinosaurs (including the massive Titanosaur, pictured here) once again!  You must reserve timed tickets in advance (do so here or on the museum's app) and visitors ages two and older must wear a mask. Capacity is capped at 25 percent of normal visitation to allow ample room for physical distancing. 

In addition to the classics, special exhibits on view at the museum are The Nature of Color and T. rex: The Ultimate Predator, as well as one addressing the history and issues surrounding the museum's statue of Theodore Roosevelt, which the institution has requested be removed.  

American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West & 79th Street
Upper West Side 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art re-opened its doors August 29. Visitors must reserve tickets online in advance, which you can do here. (For New Yorkers and New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut students, timed admission may be reserved online, and then you may pay as you wish at on-site ticketing desks.) Masks are required, as are temperature checks for entry, there's no coat check, and more. Through September 27, the museum will offer free bicycle valet service!  Read all safety measures here

Special exhibits on view include Making The Met, 1870–2020; The Roof Garden Commission: Héctor Zamora, Lattice Detour; and Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle

Hoping to head uptown to the Cloisters? It re-opens September 12. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art 
1000 Fifth Ave. at 82nd St. 
Upper East Side 

Queens County Farm Museum

Not ready for an indoor museum? No worries. The Queens County Farm Museum is the longest continually-farmed site in New York State and it reopened August 2. Fall is the perfect time to visit the farm, with a variety of special seasonal programming including fall festivals, a pumpkin patch and more. See all programming here. 

A star of the museum this time of year is the Amazing Maize Maze, sponsored by Con Edison. The maze is three acres, and clues lead you to a bridge, from which you can see the whole design, inspired by Van Gogh's Sunflowers. 

In September, the museum is holding September Sundays (9/13, 20 & 27), which in addition to admission to the maze, includes hayrides; live music from New Orleans-inspired bluegrass band Mama Juke, (audience crop circles will help with social distancing, but you can bring your own chair, too); Adopt-a-Worm composting program and crafts and tips at the Con Edison Ecology Booth. For food ands drink, head to the Queens Farm’s Beer Garden sponsored by Bridge & Tunnel Brewery with local food vendors. Tickets for September Sundays are $20/adults; $15/kids. Buy them here. (You can visit the museum and so the maze any time as well, purchasing tickets for the maze as an add-on. Adults are $12, kids 12 and under are $8. Buy tickets in advance here

Admission to the museum on days without special programming is free. 

73-50 Little Neck Pkwy.
Floral Park, NY

photo: Marianne W. via Yelp

New-York Historical Society

The New-York Historical Society, home to the excellent Dimenna Children's History Museum, opens its doors to the public again on September 11. The opening weekend will  celebrate New York’s resilience with a special digital installation titled World Trade Center Four Decades: Photographs by Camilo José Vergara,  and a free virtual public program about 9/11.

Several exhibits at the museum have been extended, including Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution; Women March; Colonists, Citizens, Constitutions: Creating the American Republic; and The People Count: The Census in the Making of America.

And outdoors in the museum’s rear courtyard is the free exhibition Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine, which documents the experiences of New Yorkers across the five boroughs during the height of the pandemic. 

New York Historical Society 
170 Central Park West at 77th St. 

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

The Whitney Museum of American Art

The Whitney reopened September 3, and admission is pay-what-you-wish through September 28. You must reserve tickets in advance online--do so here. Masks are required, as is social distancing and capacity is reduced to 25 percent. 

On view now is Craft in Art, 1950–2019 (featuring this life-size beaded kitchen piece, above), as well as Vida Americana, which 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.

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort St.

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum reopens September 25. Entrance is by timed tickets—buy them here—and the museum is now open Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Capacity is limited and some areas remain closed (inside the Concorde and submarine Growler, the Lutnick Theater, simulators, food service and the retail store) but most of the 350,000-square-foot complex is open. Masks are required for all visitors over two years of age. 

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Pier 86
West 46th St. & 12th Ave.
Midtown Manhattan


The Museum of Modern Art is open, and admission is free through September 27 thanks to those generous folks at UNIQLO. Free access tickets are released one week in advance in one-week blocks, every Friday at 10:00 a.m. (General admission tickets for September 28–October 31 are also available, and if you're a member, you don't need to reserve a ticket. Additionally, Mondays are reserved exclusively for members and their guests.) Reserve tickets here. Safety measures at the museum (masks, temp checks, etc. can be found here.)

The Museum debuted its $450 million renovation in the fall of 2019, and had to close its colorful show Judd, the first major U.S. retrospective dedicated to the work of Donald Judd in over three decades, due to the pandemic. It's back, and runs through January 9 2021. Also on view is a show dedicated to  Félix Fénéon, an extraordinarily influential but little-known French art critic, editor, publisher, dealer, and collector. 

Highlight: A large rendering of Milton Glaser's iconic "I Love NY" graphic will be on full display for MoMA visitors to enjoy. 

11 West 53rd St., between Fifth and Sixth Avenues

photo: Museum of Ice Cream NYC

The Museum of Ice Cream

Yes, the Museum of Ice Cream is open! An immersive walk-through experience dedicated to the sweet treat, the MOIC opened a permanent NYC flagship in December of 2019, but shut down in March. It's back, and COVID-19 precautions are in place, and include a new ventilation system, mask and glove requirements, deep cleanings at the beginning and end of every day, cleaning surfaces following any touching by visitors, capacity reduction, etc. You can read all safety measures here.

You must reserve tickets in advance, and the museum is open Thursday through Sunday now. 

The Museum of Ice Cream
558 Broadway

photo: Bobbito Garcia

The Museum of the City of New York

The Museum of the City of New York is open, and is celebrating the city's spirit. New York Responds looks at the city in 2020, as it confronts the pandemic and racial injustice. Featuring images and stories from New Yorkers, the initial phase of the exhibit, which will be mounted in full later this year, is outside (it debuted July 23). Also on view is City/Game: Basketball in New York, which looks at the story of the sport in New York, everywhere it's played, from the school yard to the stadium. The show Activist New York explores the drama of social activism in the city from the 17th century to present day. Tickets are by timed entry (click here to reserve) and the museum is open Thursday to Monday. Thursdays from 10-11 a.m. are designated for high-risk individuals and seniors. See all of the museum's safety measures here

`1220 Fifth Ave. at 103rd Street
Upper East Side 

photo: Liberty Science Center

Liberty Science Center

The Liberty Science Center reopens Labor Day weekend, and two exhibits cut short by closure are there through September 20: Angry Birds Universe: The Art and Science Behind a Global Phenomenon and Wild Kratts: Creature Power! Brand new is Boom Time, which features a show of controlled explosions several times a day! (Exploding watermelon!) Tickets and parking must be purchased in advance, capacity is reduced, there is no eating or drinking inside the building, and air filters have been replaced and upgraded. Face masks are required. Read all of the safety protocols here, and read our guide to the Liberty Science Center with kids here

Liberty Science Center
222 Jersey City Blvd.
Liberty State Park

photo: Sloomoo Institute

For Slime Lovers: Sloomoo Institute

If you missed your chance to visit this shrine to slime, you can do so starting September 12. It's slightly altered (people play with their own slimes, not a collective vat, as was done previously), and you get to take slime home. Expect artisanal, scented slime, interactive activities, a massive DIY slime bar, slime experiments, an immersive ASMR tunnel, a lake of slime to walk on, and more. Advanced tickets are timed, masks are required, staff is in masks and gloves, and capacity is reduced. Dress in your get messy clothes and prepare to open your wallet: it's $39 a ticket. A percentage of sales goes to mental health charities.  

Sloomoo Institute 
475 Broadway

photo: Museum of Illusions

Museum of Illusions

Created in Zagreb, Croatia (with additional outposts in Vienna, Kuala Lumpur, and beyond) the museum is both educational and a spot for fun photo ops. 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.

Entry is by timed ticket, masks and temperature checks are required, the air filtration system has been upgraded you'll find hand sanitizer throughout the museum. Read more COVID-19 safety measures here. 

77 Eighth Ave.

photo: AKC/David Woo

To See Four-legged Friends: Museum of the Dog

The American Kennel Club celebrates humans' best friend with its Museum of the Dog on Park Avenue. which reopened August 25. (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. Ticketing is by advanced reservation, and masks are required. The museum is closed Mondays.

Tickets: $15/adults; $5/kids 12 and under, $10/seniors 65 and older 
101 Park Ave. 
Upper East Side

—Mimi O’Connor


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