The Brooklyn Museum is at the heart of Brooklyn’s cultural epicenter, and there are plenty of reasons to visit. Get tips on the best way to explore this art and history museum with your kids, including some lesser-known exhibits and activities.
New York City: Home of the Blueshirts, the square slice, and Taylor Swift, you can bet this city doesn’t hold back when it comes to its cultural attractions. In this concrete jungle where there are almost as many galleries as there are eateries, the Brooklyn Museum will rouse even the most hardened visitor.
Photo by Adam Husted
Located in the heart of the borough, the Brooklyn Museum was conceived in the late 19th century as the focal point for a series of cultural complexes, including the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Central Public Library, and Prospect Park Zoo, which were designed to frame the area surrounding Prospect Park.
Second only to the Met in size, the Brooklyn Museum is housed in the spectacular Beaux-Arts Complex and boasts the most extensive collection of Egyptian artworks found anywhere in the world.
Navigating the museum’s collections—from its renowned assortment of classical paintings and sculptures to its expansive holdings of Egyptian and African art—may seem daunting, but luckily, the museum makes it easy to plan ahead with its interactive family guides for current and long-term exhibits.
The majestic, two-story Beaux-Arts Court is topped by a huge skylight. Many public events are held here.
Some Standby Faves for Kids
A visit to the Brooklyn Museum would not be complete without a trip to the celebrated Egyptian galleries, located on the third floor. Journey to Ancient Egypt to discover some of the objects, icons, and rituals that made up everyday life for these early people.
“Egypt is probably the best known of our collections and certainly a long-standing favorite with families,” says Allison Day, youth and family programs manager at the museum.
Kids can explore tomb carvings, peruse ancient scrolls, and learn about the process of mummification in the Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity exhibit. Gaze up at the colorful ceiling in the introductory gallery to learn about the ancient astronomical calendar. The blue circle represents the night sky, surrounded by various gods and goddesses. The creatures within the circle are a representation of Ancient Egyptian zodiac signs.
Don’t forget to visit the Mummy Chamber, where you can find the mummy of Hor, enclosed in a decorative casing called a cartonnage; the mummy of the priest Thothirdes; and a nearly 25-foot-long Book of the Dead scroll.
Join in on the fun during Target First Saturdays, one of the museum’s most celebrated (free!) evening entertainment programs, which takes place from 5-11pm on the first Saturday of each month and features live music, film screenings, workshops, art classes, and other fun events for everyone in the family.
“I’m very appreciative that so many Brooklyn communities recognize and appreciate our long-standing commitment to offering this program,” says Day, who has been with the museum for 18 years. “No matter your economic situation, there is a time when you can visit the museum, and all of Brooklyn walks in the door. It’s a very diverse group in every conceivable way, and we have a great time.”
Best-Kept Secrets to Discover with Your Kids
The museum hosts special programs for children of all ages throughout the year. For children ages 2-3, the museum offers a series of Meet the Museum classes in the fall, winter, and spring. Classes are held on Thursdays at 11am or 4pm. Kids explore a theme relating to the works in the galleries and create an art project over several weeks. The program is designed to help caregivers and their children discover creative ways to interact with the artwork in the museum. Registration is required; visit the museum’s website to learn more.
Another fun way to experience the museum with your family is by checking out Arty Facts, an art program for kids ages 4-7 and their families, where kids engage in activities inspired by the artwork they see in the galleries. Every month has a different theme; one month might spotlight Brooklyn artists and their works in the museum, while another month may center on observing how artists use light and making your own light-inspired artwork. Arty Facts meets in the Rubin Lobby, and registration is not required. To plan a special day with friends at Arty Facts, you can contact the youth and family programs manager at 718-501-6227 or [email protected].
Don’t miss the museum’s special programs, including the Arty Facts: Visiting Artists series, which features Brooklyn artists who partner with the museum’s teaching team to bring their own perspective and enhance the learning experience.
Photo by Jonathan Dorado
Head to the Luce Center on the fifth floor for American Art: Visible Storage Center, a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how museums work. This is where a large portion of the collection that is not currently on view resides, including more than 600 objects. A tour of the center offers a unique perspective into how the museum stores and preserves its artwork.
Here in the Visible Storage Center, kids can wonder at dozens of American artworks. “My favorite is the painting of George Washington, because it looks so real,” said 6-year-old Abbey who was visiting the museum for the first time with her parents. “We like to expose our kids to as much culture as possible,” said Abbey’s mom Lauren, an artist from Jacksonville, Florida. “The museum is a good place to get out and spend the day.”
The museum’s gift shop, located on the first floor, is a great source for locally made ware and interesting souvenirs to bring home for friends and families. Don’t miss this museum highlight on your way out.
Parents, Know Before You Go!
Make the most out of a first-time visit to the Brooklyn Museum by planning ahead! The museum has so much to offer, from sculptures to period rooms, to objects from all over the world, so visit the website’s collections, calendar, and education pages to learn more about the current and upcoming programs and exhibits, and what appeals to your family’s interests the most. Use a floor plan, available in the Rubin Lobby, to map out the spaces you want to explore. Family guides and special program calendars can also be found there.
The museum allows photography (no flash) in most areas for personal use. Sketching art objects using paper and pencils is also fine in most areas, as long as the work is behind glass.
You can find a free coat check located in the lobby next to the admission counter.
Visitors may use strollers throughout the building, or strollers may be stored at the Coat Check.
Food for the brain can be found in the galleries, but head to the Counter Café to fuel the tummy during a break from browsing. The Café offers casual lunch options like sandwiches, salads, and muffins. For a more refined dining experience (sans kids, perhaps), sit down at Saul, the museum’s Michelin-starred restaurant.
The museum is wheelchair accessible, and you can use the floor map to find wheelchair-accessible restrooms. Complimentary wheelchairs are available at the coat check.
Restrooms can be found on the first and third floors. All restrooms have baby-changing tables, and a family restroom is located adjacent to the lobby.
Parking is available at the back of the museum off Washington Avenue. Information on parking rates is available on aggmcparking.com.
The best part about visiting the Brooklyn Museum is you don’t have to go far to seek out more fun. Right next-door is Brooklyn’s famed botanical garden, a sweet-smelling way to relax with your kids when the sun is out. A short walk away is the impressive Central Public Library, in case the kids want to continue their cultural education—or just prop up with a good book. Also nearby is the monumental entrance to Prospect Park, home to yet another of Brooklyn’s top destinations: the Prospect Park Zoo.
Location: 200 Eastern Parkway, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
Take the 2/3 train to Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum
Prices: Prices are suggested and subject to change. General admission: $16; $10 students with valid ID and seniors ages 62 and older; free for youth ages 19 and younger. On Target First Saturdays, there’s a flat rate of $5 beginning at 5pm.
Hours: Wednesdays 11am-6pm; Thursday 11am-10pm; Friday-Sunday 11am-6pm. First Saturday of each month (except September) is Target First Saturdays, when the museum is open from 11am-11pm.
Birthday Parties: Members at the Partner level are eligible to book a birthday party for kids ages 4 and older. Birthday parties are customized for groups of up to 30 people (adults included) and include gallery activities and art-making led by a teaching artist. Cake and refreshments are also available. The cost is $400. Book in advance because availability is limited.
Guided Tours: Daily public tours are available free to museum guests with admission. Check the museum’s calendar for meeting times and locations.
School groups (K-12) can receive a guided tour of the galleries throughout the year. Tours are customizable; reserve in advance on the museum’s website.
For more information: 718-638-5000 or brooklynmuseum.org