Splash Around at the Children's Museum's New Water Exhibit

6/13/16 - By Jody Mercier

The Children's Museum of Manhattan debuted a brand-new water play station, Dynamic H2O, just in time for the summer heat. The interactive exhibit is the second new addition for the Upper West Side children's hot spot this year. Earlier it added the well thought-out Muslim culture exhibit, which we thoroughly enjoyed.

The new Dynamic H20 exhibit seriously upped the wet fun factor in the Sussman Environmental Center behind the museum, where it added 800 square feet of outdoor exhibits to the area previously occupied by City Splash. The old City Splash table still stands, but is dwarfed by the new exhibit's 16-foot, custom-made water table and accompanying displays. These new tools focus on the importance of water to a healthy life and on water's journey from the Catskills to our city faucets.


A magnetic fishing pole at the tri-level water table was a big hit. 

The interactive water table is undeniably the star of the show at Dynamic H2O. The tri-level table allows kids to unleash a rainstorm with the push of a button. A spiraling stream sends turtles racing down into a movable island-filled waterscape below, where a dome of spray begs to be interrupted by curious fingertips. The bottom level plays on the NYC water cycle theme, with a mini cityscape to which kids can add their own Lego skyscrapers. Pipes spray water and a geyser can be manipulated with multiple wrenches, each producing a different spray. My 2-year-old daughter's favorite feature, however, was the magnetic fishing pole that enable kids to net their own aquatic creatures.

The space surrounding the water table is brightly illustrated with narrative descriptions of how water travels from upstate New York reservoirs to city skyscrapers, information that even will teach adults a thing or two. Older children can build their own aqueduct systems by manipulating magnetic pipes for an interconnected waterway that carries water 100 miles from the Catskills to NYC.

The entire outdoor exhibit spans three levels. Walking out of CMOM and onto the second floor of the new exhibit, visitors are greeted with a display on the importance of pumps and gravity in propelling water through buildings. One floor up is an elevated, outdoor classroom where museum educators tie lessons into the exhibit. The ground level below offers a shady respite and the water tables.

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Enjoy the water table, or try one of the interactive learning stations where kids can build an aqueduct systems and more.

In addition to the new, main table, the old City Splash table still delights, and smaller, toddler-friendly tables are stationed to the sides with buckets for pouring and funnels to catch and redirect the water. At three smaller stations educators offer hands-on activities that teach kids about careers focused on water. These include ecologist, hydrologist, and marine biologist.

A word to the wise: My daughter chose not to wear one of the many water smocks available and came away soaked. It was an 80-plus-degree day so no big deal. But if your child is sensitive to being wet, grab a smock or bring a change of clothes. The exhibit is well shaded but still gets toasty.

Dynamic H2O is open through September, weather permitting, and access is included in museum admission, currently $12 for ages 1 and older. Seniors are $8. The recommended ages for the exhibit is 2-10, but we think 2-6 years old is really the sweet spot for it, though many older kids, 7 and up, will enjoy some of the educational sections about how the whole system works and some of the experiments. 

All photos by the author.

Places featured in this article:

The Children's Museum of Manhattan