Best Museums to Take Kids in New York City

Carrie Bradshaw and her cosmo swilling cohorts may have forged New York’s reputation as a sophisticated singles’ city, but lets bit forget it’s also an amazing family destination. Ok, so little ones may get slightly bored by fashion hunting and abstract art at the Guggenheim, but there’s still an abundance to keep them amused. For starters, here are just a few of the best museums to take kids to in New York City:

New York City Fire Department Museum

Those shiny, red fire trucks that are so prominent in NYC have probably already caught your kids’ attention. If so, take them along to this fascinating museum located in an early 18th-century firehouse. You’ll learn how the ‘Rattle Watchers’, the earliest organized firefighters, used to spin rattles to alert residents before running to their rescue with buckets of water and just why, over the centuries, the shape of the firefighter’s helmet has remained relatively unchanged.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum

Opened in 1899, this was the first museum in the world built expressly for children and aspires to ‘enrich children’s lives through inspiring, involving, and challenging them to learn about themselves, others, and the world around them.’ Over 30,000 objects, from a shark’s jawbone to porcelain dolls are on permanent display, whilst temporary shows can touch on anything from nursery rhymes to neighborhood ecology.

American Museum of Natural History

The King of NYC’s museums will amaze the entire family and probably be one of those experiences your children will remember well into adulthood. For many, the highlights are the older exhibits, such as the incredible habitat dioramas and fossil collections, whilst more high-tech, didactic shows such The Silk Road (on until August 15th) are incredible examples of multimedia museum installation.

Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum

Located over two gigantic, and recently overhauled, naval vessels docked in the Hudson River, the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, explores, well sea, air and space exploration and the ‘humanity behind the hardware.’ But it’s not all space probes and submarines. Temporary shows and activities touch on lighter themes, such as images of Snoopy and his puzzling obsession with WWI aircraft, and ‘sailor art.’

The Museum Mile

Fifth Avenue in Manhattan is where all New York’s leading museums and art galleries are located and one stretch of road is called “Museum Mile”. It makes life easy if you choose your holiday apartment in the Upper East Side to have all the leading museums within a few blocks of each other.

Every year in June, 5th Avenue is closed for the Museum Mile Festival which is a joyous event full of musicians, street entertainers and free access to the museums.

Here are a few of the museums that contribute to Museum Mile:

  • El Museo del Barrio is dedicated to exhibiting Latin American art and also works from Puerto Ricans and people of Caribbean origin.
  • The Museum of the City of New York has the feel of an old colonial mansion and is one of New York’s most elegant-looking museums. There are five floors of exhibits including areas such as the Rockefeller rooms. The exhibits retell the history of New York and there is a fantastic display of model ships recounting New York’s prominence as a port. One of the most fascinating exhibits is a series of rooms that have been recreated to represent various periods in America’s colonial history.
  • The Jewish Museum is the largest Jewish museum in the ‘West’ and it features painting and other items of Jewish art displayed with explanations of its historical context.
  • The Cooper-Hewitt / National Design Museum / Smithsonian Institution has phenomenal displays of design and decorative arts housed in an Upper East Side mansion that was owned by Andrew Carnegie.
  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is situated in a building designed by the architect, Frank Lloyd Wright where there are displays of works by 19th and 20th-century artists including Picasso, Chagall and Vincent van Gogh.
  • One of New York’s most famous museums has to be the Metropolitan Museum of Art which exhibits art from all media and from a multitude of places and cultures.

Other museums in Museum Mile include the National Academy Museum which exhibits 19th and 20th-century American art.


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