New York is full of awesome museums for kids: from the American Museum of Natural History to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum to the Sony Wonder Technology Lab. These museums are great, and often super-packed. If you’re looking for ways to educate and entertain the little ones in your life with fewer crowds, look no further than our five favorite under-the-radar museums. By Jessica Allen.
Dedicated to “illuminat[ing] the patterns and structures all around us,” the Museum of Math seeks to “stimulate inquiry, spark curiosity, and reveal the wonders of mathematics. The first museum of mathematics in the United States features more than 30 cool, interactive exhibits that celebrate all things geometric, algebraic, numeric, imaginary, binary, spatial, and logical. Check out the monthly free Family Fridays for adults and kids: fun + family = more fun.
Does anyone in your family like television? What about movies? Yeah, we thought so. The Museum of the Moving Image has a multitude of artifacts (some 1,400 in all) related to film, television, and digital media, from the apparatus worn by Linda Blair to get her head to turn around in The Exorcist to the costume worn by Robin Williams in Mork & Mindy to a wall of teen movie mags. Everywhere you turn is something interesting, breathtaking, or awe-inspiring. Interactive exhibits let you create your own flipbook or record dialogue over an actual film.
Like the New York City Police Museum, currently closed due to damage sustained during Hurricane Sandy, the New York City Fire Museum is dedicated to the city’s finest, and is full of noteworthy objects sure to thrill kids of all sizes. As you wander about, you’ll learn about the earliest days of firefighting in the city (the bucket brigade of New Amsterdam), remember the victims of 9/11, and see all manner of equipment, including hand-pumped engines, ladder trucks, Jaws of Life, and fireproof gear.
The New York Transit Museum is by far our favorite small museum. Located in a former subway station in Brooklyn Heights, the museum highlights the best of the city’s vast transportation system. You can wander around buses and old subway cars (complete with ancient maps and ads), check out slugs once used to avoid paying the 5-cent fare, and learn more about how the city moves so many people from one place to the other. It’s the ideal antidote for those days when your train is not only late but so very very very crowded.
An actual working farm! In New York City! It’s true: the Queens County Farm has vegetables and fruit and livestock aplenty. The homestead dates to 1697, and indeed the 47 acres are the city’s largest remaining tract of undisturbed farmland. It’s impossible to wander the grounds and not be taken back to a time when most of NYC was pastoral, when sheep really did roam Central Park and orchards bloomed where apartments and offices now stand. We’ll see you at the Spring Sheep Shearing in May and the annual county fair in September.