From well-established galleries to free public art, there are plenty of spots that give New York families a bite-sized culture fix this spring. Whether you’re looking for exhibits that connect with nature, encourage creativity, or shift our perspective as they play with size and scale, we’ve uncovered some of our favorite spring shows waiting to be discovered by the city’s pint-sized patrons.

photo: Würdinger, courtesy Public Art Fund, NY

Hot Dog Bus at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Erwin Wurm’s mobile Hot Dog Bus is a meditation on consumption, the connection of Wurm’s homeland (Austria) and New York City, and consumer culture, but it’s also pretty fun to look at. Perhaps even more exciting, part of the piece is the free distribution of hot dogs each weekend this summer. Head to Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 on Saturdays, and Pier 5 on Sundays from Noon to 6 p.m. to get served from this distorted and distended, but still pretty cheery, Volkswagen microbus.

June 9 - Aug. 26
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Pier 1, Saturdays; Pier 5, Sundays, Noon-6

photo: © Urs Fischer. Photo: Robert McKeever. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian.

Things at Gagosian

Why yes, that is a giant aluminum rhinoceros with a copy machine, car door, boot, vacuum cleaner, table, and laptop (among other things) sticking into, and out of it. The work of Urs Fischer, the same artist who brought the world an oversized, created-to-be-destroyed bust of Katy Perry, Things is hard to miss through the windows of  the Gagosian gallery at fifth Avenue and 43rd Street. (The gallery is lit up at night, too, so the rhino can be seen clearly through the windows even after hours.) Looming 10-feet tall, the sculpture was created using a 3D scan of a taxidermied rhino, and the piece is described as a reminder that existence is an accumulation, a collective gathering of physical and metaphorical baggage. (The kids will probably just think it’s pretty cool, as do we.)

Through June 23
Tickets: Free
Entrance at 2 E. 43rd. St.

photo: Grape Harvest, 2012, Christopher Boffoli courtesy of The Children's Museum of the Arts

Possibilities of Perspective at Children's Museum of The Arts

From Alice in Wonderland to Gulliver's Travels, storybooks have long played with the idea of shrinking and growing and how it changes our worldview. Kids will love this exhibition showing a world turned topsy-turvy, playing with scale and its ability to alter our impressions of the universe and our existence inside it. This is a show that includes sculptures, photographs, dioramas, drawings, and installations and wants visitors to interact with art that messes with our sense of perspective.

On view: May 10 - Sept. 9, 2018.
Tickets: $6 general admission
Children's Museum of The Arts
103 Charlton Street,
Soho, NY

photo: Marvin Gardens

Splendor in the Grass at Marvin Gardens

Stop by the Ridgewood, Queens gallery Marvin Gardens for some colorful, fun, and trippy work by artist Hein Koh. Koh's "Splendor in the Grass" is a "phantasmagorical garden" filled with astroturf, tearful flowers and anthropomorphic cheeseburgers. A mother to two young twins, the artist is inspired by their books, toys, clothes and more, and integrates an irreverent, slightly sinister element to her work as well. 

Sat. & Sun., 1 - 5 p.m., through June 3
Marvin Gardens
1540 Decatur St.

photo: Schenck

Agora on The High Line

There's new public art to explore on the High Line. The perfect spot to keep kids active and entertained, the park's latest exhibition looks at the role of art in defining public spaces. The show, called Agora, takes its name from the Greek word for the public square, and along the old train track, nine artists share their experiences of inhabiting, speaking out in, and challenging the boundaries of public space, asking if and how art can change society.

On view: Until March 2019
High Line
Washington and Gansevoort Sts, up to West 29th St

photo: The Kyoto Costume Institute (AC11075 2004-2AB) © The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama

Visitors to Versailles (1682–1789) at The Met

Are your kids fascinated by royal courts? Captured by the over-the-top sensibility of Louis XIV, the one and only Sun King? Family planning of visiting France this summer? Then consider an afternoon checking out “Visitors to Versailles (1682–1789)” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue. The exhibit provides a look at how this regal estate welcomed people from all over the world, and all walks of life, including dignitaries, common citizens, ambassadors of other countries and cultures. Featuring items from The Met’s collection, the Palace of Versailles, and 50 lenders worldwide, the show includes paintings, portraits, furniture, guidebooks, tapestries, clothing and more. (Including the modest suit Benjamin Franklin wore to the court.) This show includes a fun audio guide, which offers “reenactments” of visitors enjoying the palace and its famous gardens.

Through July 29
Tickets: New York State residents: pay what you wish
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
Upper East Side

photo: Michael Palma Mir courtesy SHCMAS

A Book Stealing Bandit at Sugar Hill

Learn about Bibliobandido, a vicious story-eating book thief! This is a tale that's engaged kids in Honduras, sparking their creativity and setting off a storytelling journey stretching around the world.  Now it's arrived in NYC and visitors at Sugar Hill will be led through a shadowy space with battery-powered candles to explore Bibliobandido's world. They'll have to satisfy the villain's hunger for books before they leave - offering up their own stories to keep him happy. You can also watch a video of Honduran kids telling the story of this infamous bandit.

On view: Until June 3, 2018
Tickets: Adults $7, Children 9-17yrs, $4, Free for Children under 8 yrs.
Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art & Storytelling
898 St. Nicholas Avenue at 155th Street

photo: Filip Wolak

Hopes and Fears at The Rubin Museum

What does it say about 2018 that the Rubin has A Monument to the Anxious and Hopeful?  Artist Candy Chang and writer James A Reeves, are tapping into some NYC anxt and asking visitors to create their own postcards reflecting on their hopes and fears of the future. They say the inspiration is Tibetan prayer flags rather than Twitter alerts - regardless, this could be a therapeutic exercise for the whole family. Upstairs on the second and third floor galleries, there's art inspired by mudra, the scorpion gesture, which is said to have unlimited power and potential for transformation. Artist, Chitra Ganesh's large-scale animation installations appear as if by magic when you walk past. Will you react with hope or fear?

A Monument For The Anxious and Hopeful on view til November 2018
Chitra Ganesh's The Scorpion Gesture, on view until January 2019
Tickets: Adults $15, Children 12 yrs and under, free
Rubin Museum
150 West 17th St.

photo: Jason Wyche, Courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY

Wind Sculpture, Yinka Shonibare

A piece by London-based contemporary artist Yinka Shonibare, Wind Sculpture (SG) I resembles a giant piece of fabric fluttering in the wind. It’s actually fiberglass, and works to make the invisible (wind) visible. The piece is painted to resemble West African fabric, which, with origins in Indonesian batik fabric first brought to Africa by Dutch traders in the 1800s, is used to signify the many layers of identity. The topic is of particular interest to Shonibare, who grew up in the U.K. and Nigeria, and considers himself a cultural hybrid.

Through Oct. 14, 2018
Doris C. Freedman Plaza
Central Park, 60th Street and 5th Ave.

The Last Three in Astor Place

The worlds largest rhino statue in Astor Place is a bittersweet one - while it's fun to see 16-foot-tall statue, the interactive artwork has been created to raise critical awareness about rhino conservation. The bronze casts of northern white rhinos are stacked on top of one another and represent what until recently were the last three of their kind. Hunted for their horns, the last male died this year. Six more rhino sculptures are planned in cities across the world to encourage the global population to put pressure on governments to stop this kind of extinction.

On view: Until June 1st, 2018
Worlds Largest Rhino Statue
Astor Place at 4th Ave
New York

photo: Stefan Hagen showing artwork by Marna Chester

Birds and Buildings at Wave Hill

This springtime exhibition delves into the relationship between birds and their habitats. The show includes photography, video, artist books, wall paintings, installations, drawings and sound art and asks us to think about the way changes in natural and built environments affect migration patterns as well as exploring the role birds play in propagating plants. Take what you've learned outside into Wave Hill's 28 acres of woodland and garden and see for yourself the many birds that have made it their home.

On view: Until June 24th, 2018
Tickets: Adults $8, Children over 6 yrs $2, Free for children under 2 yrs.
Wave Hill
1 W 249th St. and Independence Avenue

Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables

New York is home to so many iconic works (Van Gogh's "The Starry Night", Monet's "Water Lilies" at MoMA come to mindit's hard to remember that we don't have all the art. Grant Wood's "American Gothic" — which The Whitney describes as "perhaps the most recognizable painting in 20th century American art"— is a  major work that's in town for a few more weeks. Will the kids find it kind of creepy? Probably, but that's because it is, and part of why it's so striking. They'll never forget it!  The show also features Wood's early decorative Arts and Crafts objects, Impressionistic oil paintings, murals, and book illustrations, and explores both the myth of his identity as an "artist-farmer" and repressed homosexual in the Depression-era midwest. 

Through June 10
The Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Ganservoort St.
Meatpacking District

photo: courtesy New York Botanical Garden

Georgia O'Keefe at NYBG

Say Aloha to the work or Georgia O'Keefe at the New York Botanical Society. Kids will love her use of bright colors showing blossoms filling the canvas. Twenty of the artist's paintings have been gathered together, showing the lush landscapes and lei blooms of Hawai‘i. The work came about while O'Keefe was there to draw images for an ad campaign for the Hawaiian Pineapple Company in 1939. It's the first time many of the works of art have been seen together in over sixty years.

On view May 19 through October 28, 2018
Tickets: Adults, $15, Children 2-12yrs $4,  Free for under 2yrs.
New York Botanical Society
2900 Southern Blvd.,
Bronx, NY

photo: Fionn Reilly

In Dreams Awake on Broadway

Six fairytale sculptures that'll appeal to kids and adults alike have been newly installed along Broadway between 64th and 157th. The dreamlike sculptures of Kathy Ruttenberg, include a singing tree, a smartly dressed Ms. Mighty Mouse, and an acrobatic Atlas balancing the earth on her feet. The sculptures by the Chicago-born, New York York-raised, artist explore the boundaries between plant and animal, dreams and reality.

On view: through February 2019
Kathy Ruttenberg On Broadway: in dreams awake
Along the greenway between 64th and 157th Streets

Where will you get your culture fix with the kids? Let us know in the comments below.

-Emily Myers


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