So far this month we've told you about the best kids' concerts and family theater shows debuting this autumn. Now we finish up our fall culture coverage with a roundup of kid-friendly museum exhibits that are opening over the next few months.
While the Brooklyn Children's Museum, the Children's Museum of Manhattan and the Children's Museum of the Arts are all unveiling cool new interactive installations, there are a bunch of awesome exhibits at "adult" museums that are sure to please school-age kids and their parents, like the Guggenheim's Picasso retrospective and the Metropolitan Museum's show of artists inspired by Pop Art great Andy Warhol. Plus the Toy Museum of NY is moving to a brand-new Brooklyn location and original illustrations by Beatrix Potter will be on display at the Morgan. Here are 13 family-friendly exhibits that we're looking forward to taking our kids to this fall.
Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years – Upper East Side
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
September 18-December 31
Free with suggested admission: $25 for adults, free for children under 12
Twenty-five years after his death Andy Warhol continues to inspire. The Met's massive exhibit features 45 of his diverse works (photographs, screen prints, sculptures, films) alongside pieces by 60 artists who were all influenced by the icon. The participants read like a who's who of contemporary art—Jeff Koons, Richard Avedon, Peter Hujar, Christopher Makos, Robert Mapplethorpe and Takashi Murakami, to name a few—proof that Warhol enjoyed a lot more than 15 minutes of fame. There are a number of events scheduled in conjunction with the exhibit, including a Start with Art Family Workshop on Sunday, October 28, when kids can use printmaking to make Warhol-like self-portraits.
Circus and the City: New York, 1793-2010 – Upper West Side
The Bard Graduate Center
18 West 86th Street between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West
September 21-February 3, 2013
$7 for adults, $5 for children
Most kids (heck, parents too!) love the circus and this exhibit explores the history of the art form in our city through images, artifacts, posters and ephemera. If you've never been to the Bard Graduate Center be warned: It definitely attracts a serious (and quiet) crowd and there will be a good amount of reading. So this show is best for seasoned museum-goers. If you're interested in checking it out with younger kids, it's probably best to go on one of the museum's family days. On Saturday, October 20, experience a Cirkus in Wonderland! with face painting, circus-themed crafts and a performance by the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus' Cavalcade of Youth All-Stars. On Saturday, January 26 it's the Carnival of the Elephants with a pachyderm-themed shadow puppet show, crafts and a visit from a zookeeper. Admission on family days is $15 per family.
Global Shoes – Crown Heights
Brooklyn Children's Museum, 145 Brooklyn Avenue at St. Marks Avenue
September 22-March 10, 2013
Free with admission: $9
Take a walk in someone else's shoes—literally! BCM's new installation is an interactive footwear store and factory where kids can check out what people wear in Kiribati, Mongolia, Iceland and other far away places. Families can also see artwork and read stories written by children from various countries that reveal what life is like in their parts of the world. As always, the museum will host a number of special activities and events in conjunction with the exhibit so be sure to check the online calendar.
Marvels and Monsters & Alt.Comics – Soho
Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Center Street between Grand and Howard Street
September 27-February 24, 2013
Free with admission: $10 for adults, free for children under 12
MOCA is unveiling two interrelated exhibits that explore the relationship between comic books and Asian-American culture. Marvel and Monsters examines the evolution of how Asians have been portrayed in comic books, while Alt.Comics showcases comics created by Asian-Americans. While the exhibits' multiculltural message may be lost on little ones, young comic fans should enjoy checking out artwork from the past 70 years and participating in Ka-Boom, a monthly family workshop when kids discuss the art and create their own comic book alter egos.
Winged Tapestries: Moths at Large – Upper West Side
American Museum of Natural History, 79th Street at Central Park West
September 29-September 29, 2013
Free with suggested admission: $19 for adults, $10.50 for children ages 2-12
Even though this display will be modest compared to the usual AMNH fare, my family and I are excited to check out highly detailed photographs of North American moths that show off their amazing markings. Since moths and butterflies are the same species, Winged Tapestries will be a nice complement to the popular Butterfly Conservatory, which reopens at the museum on October 6 and runs through May 28, 2013.
The Magic Flute: Paintings Inspired by Mozart’s Opera – Chelsea
First Street Gallery, 526 West 26th Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, Suite 209
At first glance, artwork inspired by Mozart's famous opera may not seem of much interest to kids. But Lisa Zwerling's stunning paintings chronicle the epic fantasy with dragons, witches, villains, magic bells and other elements sure to please little fantasy fans.
The RAMMELLZEE Galaxseum – Hudson Square
Children’s Museum of the Arts, 103 Charlton Street between Hudson and Greenwich Streets
October 4-February 3, 2013
Free with admission: $11
CMANY's retrospective of late Queens visual and hip-hop artist Rammellzee sounds pretty mind blowing. His unique, full-body costumes, masks, character frescoes, figurines and large-scale paintings—all in his signature "Gothic Futurism" style—will be displayed alongside video and audio recordings of his performances. Of course, the always interactive museum will also host a variety of hands-on art workshops in conjunction with the exhibit.
Picasso: Black and White – Upper East Side
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street
October 5-January 23, 2013
Free with admission: $22 for adults, free for children under age 12
It's never too early to start exposing kids to the masters. The Guggenheim is showcasing 118 of Picasso's well-known black-and-white paintings, sculptures and drawings, proof that you don't need color to make eye-popping art.
The Toy Museum of NY – Cobble Hill
180 Smith Street at Warren Streets, second floor.
Opens October 6
Free with admission: $15 for adults, $10 for the first child, $7-8 for siblings
We've written about this small museum before and now it's moving to a new Brooklyn space. A different experience than your usual museum visit, here families are introduced to an awesome collection of playthings from the 1880s to the 1980s in a live interactive show hosted by "Queen Marlene," the alter ego of the institution's founder. The show (and hence the museum) keeps odd hours so it's best to check the calendar and buy tickets before you go. For the grand opening, Saturday, October 6, families can snag tickets to the show for just $5.
The Haunted Pumpkin Garden – the Bronx
The New York Botanic Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard
Free with All-Garden Pass: $20-$25 for adults, $8-$10 for children ages 2-12
My son loves going to the NYBG (he calls it a plant museum) and its upcoming pumpkin installation is one of our favorites. Hit the Children's Adventure Garden to marvel at more than 500 jack-o'-lanterns elaborately carved and sculpted into spiders, scarecrows, bats, snakes and other scary sights. Michael Natiello, creative director for Hudson Valley’s famous Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze, oversaw the design. I went with my son and husband last year and it is simply fabulous. There are also kids' activities, including a costume parade, plus pumpkin carving demos and special nighttime hours in case you want to explore the spot after dark (costs an additional fee).
The Grinch's Holiday Workshop – Upper West Side
Children's Museum of Manhattan, 212 West 83rd Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway
October 20-January 6, 2013
Free with admission: $11
Dr. Seuss fans should love this interactive holiday installation. Children can explore the town of Whoville—the setting of the classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas—through hands-on stations on the lower level of the museum. There will also be frequent workshops when kids can create rhyming hats, play Seuss-style Mad Libs and hear the doc's whimsical books read aloud. Purists beware: This exhibit touches on Halloween and Thanksgiving, not just Christmas.
REGeneration – Corona
New York Hall of Science, 47 111th Street between 47th and 48th Avenues
October 27-January 13, 2013
$11 for adults, $8 for children ages 2-17
NY Hall of Sci's latest exhibit sounds like a bit of a departure from its usual fare. Ten artists and artist groups will explore how Queens' cultural vitality is sustained through high-tech interactive installations. The show sounds like a blend of art, science and technology and touches on immigration, urbanization and diversity. Demanding themes for little ones but the large- and small-scale art projects should get school-age kids thinking.
Beatrix Potter: The Picture Letters – Murray Hill
The Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Avenue between 36th and 37th Streets
November 2-January 27, 2013
Free with admission: $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 13-16, free for kids under 13
The famous picture letters by Potter—the author/illustrator behind Peter Rabbit and his wild pals—will be on display at the museum. See early versions of her beloved and charming animal tales, including the original Peter Rabbit picture letter along with early renderings of Squirrel Nutkin and Jeremy Fisher. There are three family programs scheduled in conjunction with the exhibit for a more interactive experience.
Bonus: Many of the installations we wrote about in our best summer exhibits roundup are still on display this fall, including the Czech Center's Orbis Pictus - Play Well, the Met's Tomas Saraceno's Cloud City, the New York Public Library's Lunch Hour NYC, the American Museum of Natural History's Spiders Alive! and MoMA's Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900-2000, so you still have time to catch them before they close.
To save money, check out our post about free museum hours.
Find out about other great exhibits for kids in our Museum Guide.