While spring brings outdoor festivals and fairs, and long days at NYC's playgrounds, it's also a great season for new museum exhibits. Alfresco sculpture installations at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the New York Botanical Garden, hands-on math and science fun at the New York Hall of Science, children's artwork at the Guggenheim, the Cloister's 75th anniversary and old-school music videos at the Museum of the Moving Image are just some of what's on tap this spring. Here are the top seven museum exhibits for families making their debuts this spring in New York City.
Spectacle: The Music Video – Astoria
Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35 Avenue between 36th and 37 Streets
Through Sunday, June 16
Free with admission: $12 for adults, $6 for children ages 3-12
Having grown up with MTV, I'm really excited about Spectacle, the first-ever exhibit devoted to music videos, which chronicles their evolution and cultural impact over the past 35 years. More than 300 videos by both genre pioneers (Devo, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Madonna) and contemporary stars (Lady Gaga, the White Stripes) will be screened, and artifacts and props will be on view. Visitors will even be able to step into a few recreated video environments. Parents, be warned: Music videos have come a long way since Video Killed the Radio Star and some contain violent, sexual or other controversial imagery or situations. If you steer clear of the peepholes in the Agent Provocateur section of the exhibit, where these types of videos will be shown, you should be good to go.
The Exploded Mind of Mulholland Hwang – Cobble Hill
Invisible Dog, 51 Bergen Street between Boerum Place and Smith Street
Through Saturday, May 18
Fans of acclaimed children’s book author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers should enjoy this offbeat art exhibition in Brooklyn. Jeffers and his friend, local jewelry designer Aaron Ruff, chronicle a fictitious boy's obsession with the natural competition among animals in drawings, paintings, dioramas and other works that explore the theme. While not specifically aimed at children, the display is kid-friendly, imaginative and thought-provoking for both young and old.
Sandy Remix – Prospect Heights
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 900 Washington Avenue at Crown Street
On permanent display
Free with admission: $10 for adults, free for children under 12
Roderick Romero—known for his fantastical nature structures—has created a site-specific tree house for the BBG that, with the exception of the nails, is made entirely from natural materials. Wood from more than a dozen varieties of trees that fell during Hurricane Sandy were used to create the climbable installation. The 200-square-foot 'nest' is located five feet in the air and offers a nice view of the grounds, though don't expect a traditional kids' clubhouse.
A Year with Children – Upper East Side
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street
Friday, May 3-Wednesday June 19
Free with admission: $22 for adults, free for children under age 12
See the results of the Guggenheim's arts education program Learning through Art as the museum showcases prints, paintings, sculptures and collages created by NYC public elementary school students.
Search for the Unicorn – Inwood
The Cloisters, 99 Margaret Corbin Drive in Fort Tryon Park
Wednesday, May 15-Sunday, August 18
Free with admission: $25 for adults, free for children under 12
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the medieval museum, which is famous for its stunning 15th century Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries, the Cloisters will display 40 unicorn-themed works alongside its signature attraction.
Four Seasons – the Bronx
The New York Botanic Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard
Saturday, May 18-Sunday, October 27
Free with all-garden pass: $25 for adults, $15 for children ages 2-12
Renowned contemporary artist Philip Haas' new outdoor installation consists of four huge sculptures inspired by the 16th-century paintings Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter by Italian artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Winter is made of dead trees and tangled roots; Spring is a bouquet of colorful flowers; Summer is a harvest of corn, zucchini and peaches; and Fall features grapes, colorful leaves and wine barrels. I have prints of the original paintings hanging over my dining table and can't wait to check the statues out.
Design Zone – Corona
New York Hall of Science, 47 111th Street between 47th and 48th Avenues
Saturday, May 25-Sunday, September 1
Free with admission: $11 for adults, $8 for children ages 2-17
Hit NYC's premiere science spot to learn how video game designers, music producers, roller coaster makers and other engineers use math and science in their creations. As always, the exhibit includes lots of hands-on fun like laying down tracks on a drum machine, spinning tunes in a deejay booth, learning about scale and pattern through image manipulation, designing a skatepark and testing out virtual roller coasters.
Of course most of the shows we profiled in our roundup of the best winter exhibits for kids are still open, including the American Museum of Natural History's Whales and Our Global Kitchen, the Morgan Library & Museum's Drawing Surrealism, the Children's Museum of Manhattan's 10-Foot Cops, the Children's Museum of the Arts' Face to Face, the Guggenheim's Gutai: Splendid Playground and the Brooklyn Children's Museum's super-interactive Big Adventure.
Find out about other cool things to do this season in our Spring Fun Guide.