NYC has more than its fair share of world-class museums that provoke wonder and excitement in museum-goers of all ages. Many NYC museums are also family-friendly, holding children’s attention while also providing enriching experiences for adults. Whether the museum focuses on art, history or science, family-friendly museums have activities and exhibits that relate to a broad audience especially since children’s interests change with age. Here are our six favorite museums:
Museum of Natural History
The Museum of Natural History, filled with dinosaur fossils and vivid, colorful exhibits, is one of the most beloved museums in NYC. Few outgrow enjoying how the museum captures the grand scale of the natural world, whether current or before humans walked the earth. One can spend an entire day walking through the museum and of course, with children, the gift store.
On the western edge of Central Park, the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History is one of those family-friendly places. The museum’s mission is to track the cutting edge of cosmic research and share it with the world. It helps that its director, Neil deGrasse Tyson, is renowned as much for his astrophysical expertise as his dance skills. Tyson infuses his unique personality into the Planetarium’s offerings, which include a star projector on a 67-foot-wide dome in a 429-person auditorium to explore 13 billion years of the Universe through shows like Journey to the Stars. The Planetarium is nestled within the Rose Center for Earth and Space featuring exhibits that explore the Universe as well as our current limitations in observing it.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
On the other side of Central Park is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, world-renowned for its permanent collection of art from classical antiquity, ancient Egypt, Europe, and modern Amera. As one of the three largest museums in the world, families are sure to find exhibits, talks, and performances that appeal to each member of the group. The Met specifically offers family programs that range from storytime for young children to art treks that take children 5-12 on adventures through the museum.
New York Public Library
Though not a museum per se, the New York Public Library might as well be. Located just east of Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, the Library is the third largest public library in the world with 53 million items. Besides publications of all kinds, from books to private letters and publications, the Library consistently features exhibitions that delve into the lives of painters, writers, poets, and cultures using material gathered from around the world, including 100 years of flamenco’s New York history, rare glass plate photos of royal Cambodian dancers, and famous maps and mysteries about Henry Hudson’s voyage up the Hudson River 400 years ago.
National Museum of Mathematics
Traveling south on the east side will get you to the National Museum of Mathematics, recently opened on 26th Street. Less than a year old, this museum has already attracted acclaim for its ability to make math interesting for children and adults alike. Its hands-on exhibits make algebra and geometry interesting using lasers, square-wheeled tricycles, and memory games.
Families are built upon generations of history and children are often intrigued by their connections with the past. The Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side preserves a building that had over 10,000 people pass through its rooms between 1870 and 1915. Compelling stories about real-world urban immigrants accompany bedrooms, kitchens, and living spaces that look and feel like they did nearly 100 years ago.
Ellis Island Museum
IF your family has immigrant roots you can find out a lot about their experience at Ellis Island Museum, accessible via regular ferry rides that are an enjoyable family journey in and of itself. The Ellis Island Museum gives children and adults a better look at how 12 million immigrants persevered to enter America. With cutting-edge computer and multimedia technology, families can even see whether their own descendants passed through the very same island.
Museums are a great way for adults to get information they would rarely otherwise see and for children to get a taste of all there is to know. NYC’s museums are some of the best in the world and with so many to choose from, families are certain to find great places to learn and enjoy knowledge.