As the world’s first children’s museum, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum has been a beloved NYC destination since 1899. This Crown Heights institution offers three floors of rotating and permanent interactive exhibits plus hands-on cultural and science programs for little ones, ages 6 months to 10 years. The Brooklyn Children's Museum aims to inspire children to ask questions and discover answers through exploration and play.
My children and I have spent countless hours in the Totally Tots exhibit and graduated to explore all the Brooklyn Children's Museum offers. Read on to learn why the Brooklyn Children's Museum is one of our top NYC museums for kids, and find all our top culture spots in our Guide to Museums, Galleries, and Exhibits in NYC for Kids.
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Make a (messy) mini masterpiece at the Brooklyn Children's Museum. Photo courtesy of the museum
Must-See Brooklyn Children's Museum Exhibits
The giant water table here alone can entertain little ones for hours. Designed for children birth to age 6, this exhibit features nine different sensory play areas, including dress-up, sand, blocks, and climbing structures.
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Parents and kids can get hands-on together in the Color Lab.
We visited ColorLab, BCM’s family art studio, and were quite impressed. This open-studio art-making experience allows kids to choose from a quirky assortment of materials and tools to make something unique. Look out for special guests, unexpected tools, and objects that spark the imagination. ColorLab is open for select hours and included with general admission.
Neighborhood Nature lets little ones learn about the world around them.
This permanent exhibit invites visitors to examine the many ecologies found in their Brooklyn backyards. The area features a cork garden, a greenhouse, a sand “beach” and live animals. We’re big fans of the fish tanks and touch tanks.
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World Brooklyn lets kids rule the borough, if only for a few hours. Photo courtesy of the museum
This nostalgic exhibit takes children back to a simpler time, allowing them to explore and play in kid-sized, old-school Brooklyn shops. Kids can take on the roles of shopkeeper, baker, grocer, shopper, designer, performer, and builder. This exhibit is designed to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the world cultures found in Brooklyn. Bonus: Adults can take a breather at one of the tables, while kids serve up pretend meals.
Inspired by baya weaver bird nests, this outdoor installation is an interactive structure where kids can climb and explore the intersection of nature and the urban environment. The Nest is located on the rooftop terrace and is open during regular museum hours, weather permitting.
Michele Wong McSween hosts story time at the Brooklyn Children's Museum during an AAPI event. Photo by Winston Williams
Special Events at the Brooklyn Children's Museum
It seems there is always a reason to celebrate at the Brooklyn Children's Museum, which recognizes holidays in a big way. From month-long celebrations of Hispanic Heritage Month to the popular annual Kwanzaa celebration, and everyday fun like Drag Story Hour, it seems there's always something special going on. Keep up with all the happenings on the Mommy Poppins Family Activity Calendar.
Birthday Parties at the Brooklyn Children's Museum
BCM is a stellar option for your child's next birthday party. Space rentals include the use of a private indoor space for up to 25 guests. General admission to the museum is included for all guests. You are welcome to set up and serve your own food and beverages. Find more information here.
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Jurassic Golf has popped up on the BCM rooftop for two seasons running.
What Ages Is the Brooklyn Children's Museum Best For?
The Brooklyn Children’s Museum's interactive exhibits and hands-on cultural and science programs are geared toward kids from the age of 6 months to 10 years.
What Day Is the Brooklyn Children's Museum Free?
Admission to the museum is FREE every Thursday from 2-5pm thanks to a partnership with Amazon. Tickets can be reserved in advance online or purchased at the museum on the day of your visit. Group visits are restricted during this time.
Eating at the Brooklyn Children's Museum
The Brooklyn Children's Museum has tables on the roof terrace and in the second-floor café where families can take a break to refuel. With the exception of water in plastic bottles and formula for babies under 2, food is not allowed anywhere in the museum except these two spaces. Families can purchase snacks and drinks from the café during regular museum hours.
The fun-filled Brooklyn Children's Museum is the oldest such museum in the country. Photo courtesy of the museum
Know Before You Go to BCM
- BCM does not have a parking lot, but street parking is usually available within a few blocks.
- There is limited unmonitored stroller parking available at the museum. All visitors are allowed to use their strollers throughout the entire museum.
- Breastfeeding is welcome anytime, anywhere in the museum. There is seating available in the World Brooklyn exhibit, at the café, on the roof, and in the second-floor galleries. For those who wish to nurse in a private space, the museum has a private breastfeeding station near the restrooms in the lobby.
- There is an elevator that accommodates guests who cannot climb stairs.
- Self-check lockers are available to rent during your visit. Do not bring bulky bags or other items as they will not be able to be checked.
- Visit the Brooklyn Children's Museum website for current hours and admission fees.
Unless noted, photos by Winston Williams/courtesy of the Brooklyn Children's Museum
Originally published in 2019. Katie Nave contributed additional reporting.