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!) P.S.: Don’t miss this list of free museums in NYC, and if you’re looking for lesser-known NYC museums, click here!



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


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 

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.

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

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.

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.

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
Hours: Tues.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

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.

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: 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


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: 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: 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: 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: ©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: 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: ©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


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