The dog days of summer are here. (Remember yearning for days like these during the polar vortex?) Now, it’s hot and sticky outside, and you and the kids need to beat the heat. Escape to one of the city’s amazing (air-conditioned) museums and galleries. Not only will you and the kids cool off, but, best of all, these exhibits – from Marvel superheroes to Play-doh sculptures to indoor waterfalls – will ignite your kids’ imaginations.

Make Mischief with Madeline

The Art: The New York Historical Society’s “Madeline in New York” celebrates the 75th anniversary of the publication of the iconic children’s classic Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans. Bemelmans was able to pull off the rare feat of creating characters who appeal to both kids and grown-ups. The exhibit traces the author/artist’s career with more than 100 works, including the original Madeline manuscript, watercolors, oil paintings, and loads of early comic strips. The New York angle comes from the fact that Bemelmans was a NYC transplant and started writing Madeline at Pete’s Tavern near Gramercy Park.

Fun for Kids: The exhibit includes a family audio tour where kids look for the decal of Noodle the dog near an artwork, punch in the corresponding number, and listen to a playful description of the work. In one gallery, a plushy blue couch awaits families to curl up on and read piles of Madeline books.

Insider Tip: The museum is hosting special “Madeline's Tea Parties” on select Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Not surprisingly, many of these are already sold out, but check the website or call in case the museum adds more dates.

Go: New York Historical Society
170 Central Park West, Upper West Side
Phone: 212-873-3400
Exhibition Dates: Now until Oct. 19, 2014
Hours: Tues.-Thurs., & Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fri., 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Mon.
Cost: $19/adult, $6/kids 5-13, free for kids 4 and under.

* Fun note: The little girl in the above photo is Galetea Marciano, great granddaughter of Madeline books author Ludwig Bemelmans.

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What art exhibit have you taken your kids to this summer? Share your favorite in a Comment.

-Alice Perry

All photos by Alice Perry