August is here, and the stores are full of back to school supplies. But just because it’s the last month of summer, doesn’t mean that the summer fun is over. If you’ve had your fix of outdoor activities and events, there’s lots of opportunities for indoor play and exploration in NYC. Especially as the humidity rises and the heat waves last longer, it’s time to turn to summer fun at museums for air conditioned, NYC excitement. Museums are also educational places for enrichment. Kids embrace their creativity at the Children’s Museum of the Arts or learn about history and science at the American Museum of Natural History. We’ve collected the best exhibits and activities for kids at museums around the city. Some of the exhibitions have an expiration date, so be sure to head over before they’re over. Beat the heat with summer fun at museums!
If you’re looking for another opportunity for indoor fun, check out our guide to the best drop-in, indoor place spaces in Manhattan!
Dynamic H2O at Children's Museum of Manhattan
The Susan Environmental Center at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan hosts one of the NYC favorite summer exhibits for kids. In this interactive exhibit, children get to cool off in a unique way. An interactive, water table teaches kids about how NYC gets its water, where it flows through the city, and the role of water in the local environment. Kids get to build their own city, release rain showers, create waterfalls, construct dams, and pump water to the top of a skyscraper. Dynamic H2O engages the mind in an imaginative and educational way. Open daily, 11 am-4 pm, 212 West 83rd St., Upper West Side, Manhattan.
Find Your Match at the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog
Ever wonder what you would look like as a dog? Find out with the interactive Find Your Match exhibit at the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog! It’s pretty simple: take a picture of yourself and then find out which dog breed looks most like you through visual recognition software. Then, learn more about your matching breed. Kids love seeing their face next to their dog breed match, and parents, this is a great Instagram opportunity. Share your look-alike on social media! Open daily, 10 am-5 pm. 101 Park Ave., Murray Hill, Manhattan.
stART Studio at Children's Museum of the Arts
If you’re looking to get in some last minute summer fun at museums with your real little ones, stART Studio at Children’s Museum of the Arts is the perfect way to get crafty and creative. Young kids, toddlers, and infants ages five and under are welcome to experiment with basic art materials, play, sing along, try out instruments, and engage with each other. If you’re getting ready to send your kids to preschool, then stART Studio is a great way to slowly introduce them to a setting with other kids and activities common to preschool education. Monday & Friday 12 pm-5 pm, Thursday 12 pm-6 pm, Saturday-Sunday 10 am-5 pm. 103 Charlton St., Hudson Square, Manhattan.
Portia's Playhouse at Staten Island Children's Museum
If your kids are little performers who crave to take the stage, then head to Portia’s Playhouse at Staten Island Children’s Museum! We love this exhibit, because not only does it provide a space for kids to imagine and create, but it’s also a confidence builder. As kids work together to put on skits and plays and then put on a performance, they grow more confident in themselves and their abilities. Portia’s Playhouse is especially great for kids who tend to be on the shy side, because it helps them come out of their shell in a comfortable environment. Watch your kids get silly with costumes, props, puppets, and sound and lighting effects! July & August hours: Tuesday and Thursday-Sunday 10 am-5 pm, Wednesday 10 am-7 pm. September-June hours: Monday-Friday 11 am-5 pm, Saturday-Sunday 10 am-5 pm. 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island.
Justin Favela: Recuérdame at Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art & Storytelling
Justin Favela’s stellar mural covers over 1,000 square feet of the museum. Journey on an adventure through Walt Disney films and 19th-century canvases, constructed from piñata-cut tissue paper. The mural celebrates Mexican culture, all while generating an immersive experience. Several crafts and storytelling activities go along with the mural, so be sure to catch one of these during your visit. The daily calendar keeps you updated with all that’s going on at the museum! Storytelling takes place through a variety of mediums, such as theater, movement, music, and film. The exhibit is only on view through September 8, 2019, so get your last fix in this August. Thursday-Sunday 10 am-5 pm, 898 St. Nicholas Ave. at 155th Street, Sugar Hill, Manhattan.
Above and Beyond at New York Hall of Science
Only on view through September 8, 2019, Above and Beyond brings the flight experience to kids! The exhibit uses flight simulation, augmented reality, touch tables, design and skill challenges, and more to create the all to real feeling of space travel. Kids learn about the wonders of flight, aerospace innovation, design, and technology as they conquer space. There are more than 15 exhibits within Above and Beyond that each create a different experience related to flight. This is not an exhibit to be missed! Monday-Friday 9:30 am-5 pm, Saturday-Saturday 10 am-6 pm. 47-01 111th St., Corona, Queens.
Unseen Oceans at the American Museum of Natural History
On view through August 18, 2019, these next few weeks in August are really your last chance to check out Unseen Oceans at the American Museum of Natural History! Dive into the unseen habitats of mysterious animals. The exhibit uses robotics, satellite monitoring, and more to create the ocean experience. Discover all that you didn’t know about the ocean, from the giant animals to today’s greatest threats to the ocean’s habitats. Kids love this interactive exhibit, as it engages their minds through hands-on activities and unique sights. Open daily, 10 am-5:45 pm. Central Park West at 79th Street, Manhattan.
P.S. Art 2019: Celebrating the Creative Spirit of New York City Kids at The Met
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with the help of the New York City Department of Education, has a fantastic exhibit on display through October 20, 2019 that recognizes the artwork of kids! P.S. Art 2019: Celebrating the Creative Spirit of New York City Kids features achievement in the arts in NYC public schools in all five boroughs, from preschool to twelfth grade. Artwork includes paintings, prints, sculptures, photographs, collages, drawings, video, and mixed-media works. The MET describes the artwork: “This exhibition celebrates students’ journeys and discoveries from early childhood to young adult.” Bring your kids over to the MET to see artwork from kids their own age. This is a great experience for kids to get inspired and motivated as they see the accomplishments of their classmates and fellow NYC students. Sunday-Thursday 10 am-5:30 pm, Friday-Saturday 10 am-9 pm. 1000 5th Ave., Upper East Side, Manhattan.
Exploreum Hall at Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum
Exploreum Hall is truly a place for kids to explore. The fully interactive exhibit, designed specifically for families and kids, lets you climb into an actual Bell 47 helicopter, steer the wings of an airplane, and navigate through a submarine. Submarine Interactive: Submerged is new to Exploreum Hall: a hands-on, immersive exhibit that takes you into a 40-foot submarine! Not only are the exhibits exciting, but they’re also educational, as kids and families learn all about history, science, and technology. While you’re at the museum, check out Defying Gravity: Women in Space. The exhibition is especially inspiring for young girls, as it shares the stories of women in the U.S. space program through Microsoft HoloLens. The exhibition is on view through September 21, 2019. Spring/Summer hours (April 1-October 31): Monday-Friday 10 am-5 pm, Saturday-Sunday 10 am-6 pm. Pier 86, 12th Avenue & West 46th Street, Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan.
World Brooklyn & Reading Zoo at Brooklyn Children's Museum
A permanent exhibit, World Brooklyn, is a favorite for little ones at Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Kids get to play in miniature shops based on real ones in Brooklyn. Kids can be shopkeepers, bakers, grocers, shoppers, designers, performers, and so much more! As children have fun taking on these roles and playing together, they will also learn and develop an understanding of the world cultures found in Brooklyn’s diverse communities. The current visiting exhibit is Reading Zoo, which combines the worlds of literature and animals. Kids journey through three environments, and in each one, they’ll find animals to explore, books that include these animals, challenges, and opportunities to create their own stories. Reading Zoo is on view through October 6, 2019! Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 10 am-5 pm, Thursday 10 am-6 pm, Saturday-Sunday 10 am-7 pm. 145 Brooklyn Ave., Crown Heights, Brooklyn.