The Museum of the Moving Image is one of Astoria's hidden gems. Situated right next to Kaufman Studios—the home of Sesame Street and decades of film and television history—the museum features an amazing permanent exhibit as well as an ever-changing roster of special exhibitions, series, and events, including family movie showings and film series. There's something for every age range, making it a favorite go-to spot for my Queens family.
The Museum of the Moving Image has some exciting changes on the horizon, including an upcoming permanent exhibit honoring the late, great Jim Henson that we simply cannot wait to see. Read on for details on the planned exhibit, plus other useful tips for making the most of your visit with kids, including what to see, the best time to visit, and the scoop on family programming.
Create your own animations at the animation table.
The Museum of the Moving Image's main exhibition, Behind the Screen, is a hit for the entire family with lots of hands-on activities. Young children and teens love to gather around the animation table to create 15-second stop-motion animations which can be emailed to your loved ones. Patrons can also record a stop-motion video which can be purchased as a flip-book, and play around with sound effects and dialog editing tools. My son couldn't stop giggling when I made a Velociraptor meow like a kitten.
Behind the Screen also includes black-and-white headshots of famous silver screen icons like Fred Astaire, Hattie McDaniel, and silent film starlet Lillian Gish; vintage merchandise and costumes from Star Wars, Star Trek, and other famous classics; a 1960s living room replica complete with Saturday morning cartoons; and an extensive display of special effect masks and prosthetics.
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The Museum features an extensive display of prosthetics, masks and other products of special effects.
The Museum also hosts a roster of short-term exhibits that explore various milestones in cinema, digital media, and television. Current exhibitions include Dick Tracy in Tut's Fever Movie Palace, a small working theater inspired by the ornate, exotic picture palaces of the 1920s and Martin Scorsese, a gallery exhibition about the iconic director. It regularly hosts playable arcade game "exhibits," including one that just closed in late October, that are a retro hit with parents and kids alike.
On the horizon for the museum is The Jim Henson Exhibition. This new, permanent exhibit will celebrate the life and work of the legendary puppeteer, artist, and film director. The exhibit will feature selections from the Museum's collection of Henson's work including historic puppets, costumes, and production design material donated by the Henson family. Other artifacts include character sketches, scripts, storyboards, behind-the-scenes footage, and more. In addition to this permanent exhibit, the Museum will also explore Henson's legacy through educational programming, family workshops, film screenings, and more. An official opening date for the gallery has not been announced; we cannot wait to check it out.
The Museum of the Moving Image is a real treat for families. In addition to the engaging exhibits, the museum hosts a variety of family programming, teen-specific labs, camps, and other programs, film screenings, including during school holidays and breaks.
Tips for Visiting with Kids
- Strollers are prohibited, but there are elevators for wheelchair accessibility.
- Backpacks and other large items must be left at their free bag check counter.
- No food or beverages allowed beyond the cafe, which sells light fare and lunch options. For great dining with kids, check out our roundup of Astoria eateries.
- It's FREE on Friday evenings and always FREE for those ages 2 and under.
- Visit during a big festival like New York On Location when the museum waves admission.
The Museum of the Moving Image is located at 36-01 35th Avenue in Astoria, Queens and is easily accessible by subway (N, Q, R, M) and bus (Q101, Q66). There are also parking lots with museum patron discounts. The Museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. For complete information on rates and visiting hours, check the museum's website.
A version of this article was first published in 2010, but it has since been updated.
All photos by the author.