The Children’s Museum of the Arts is a real family highlight that lets kids express their artistic side with great exhibitions and a variety of hands-on classes.
Let your little ones unleash their artistic talents at this interactive New York City museum. The Children’s Museum of the Arts offers a variety of creative hands-on art workshops for kids 10 months to 12 years of age as well as many after-school art programs for older children.
Located in SoHo a few blocks from Broadway, the Children’s Museum of the Arts showcases many exhibitions and houses a large permanent collection of children’s art.
Exhibitions and Permanent Collection
The museum has wonderful exhibits which change throughout the year. There is a calendar on the museum website where you can find current and upcoming exhibits. Previous art exhibits have included shows of children’s artwork from Sri Lanka, showcases of works from famous artists from around the world, and thematic exhibits about topics such as birds and self-portraits.
Exhibits at the Children’s Museum of the Arts are drawn from the museum’s extensive permanent collection of over 2,000 works by children. These pieces date back to the 1930s and represent young artists from over 50 countries.
The museum also showcases many special exhibits of art created by children or geared toward children. The annual “Public Display” exhibition displays children’s artwork from the museum’s partnerships with New York City public schools. Some past exhibitions include” Okaasan, My Mother: A Collection of Portraits by Japanese Children from 1960’s” and “Through the I of the Storm: Dreams and Drawings by the Children of Khu Lak, Thailand.”
Get Your Hands Dirty
The Children’s Museum of the Arts offers classes for every age from ten months to fifteen years.
The WEE Arts Studio is for kids aged ten months to five years. Several mornings a week, there are WEE arts drop-in sessions, with no registration required. The kids do need a parent or caregiver to stay with them for the session, which lasts just over an hour and is packed with music, art, and stories. If you feel like hanging around at the museum afterward, general admission is half-price.
For older kids, there are daily workshops in the Fine Arts Studio, where the whole family can paint a picture, draw anything or sculpt or sew their own masterpiece.
Where ever you create your masterpiece, the museum offers free bags so you can take your creations with you when you leave.
The Clay Bar, the Ball Pond & the Sound Booth
Three of the most popular exhibits at the museum are the Clay Bar, the Ball Pond, and the Sound Booth.
The Clay Bar gives kids the chance to play with modeling clay. It’s so popular; you do need to sign up upon arrival at the museum. Sessions are 35 minutes each, and it can get quite busy on weekends, so don’t be late! Mondays and Wednesdays are the best days to visit the Clay Bar.
At the Ball Pond, your child can burn off some extra energy by bouncing around a large ball pit. Every hour is dedicated to a set age group, so you don’t have to worry your little ones may get hurt. The first 20 minutes of every hour is for two to four-year-olds, then the next 20 minutes are for five to seven years of age, and the last 20 minutes of the hour are for kids aged eight and over. Caregiver supervision is still required.
At the Sound Booth, your child can ask to record anything they like, perhaps a song or a speech. You can find your sound recording on the museum’s Soundcloud page so you can play it again and again!
Art Classes for Kids and Teens
The Children’s Museum of the Arts hosts an Open Art Studio Wednesday through Sunday afternoons where kids can create art in a variety of materials including paint, paper, and clay. The art stations allow little budding Picassos to experiment with painting, sculpture, and collage-making at their own pace.
Kids can also participate in guided workshops which are led by the museum’s professional teaching artists. From puppet-making to claymation to the printmaking technique of intaglio, children are able to explore many different types of exciting art techniques.
The Children’s Museum of the Arts also offers after-school arts classes for kids five to 12 years of age and an evening Open Arts Studio for 11 to 15-year-olds.
Creative Play Stations
From playacting in costumes to making a mess with Flubber, the Children’s Museum of the Arts has lots of activities to get little imaginations stimulated. There are computer stations, a light table, and a great selection of costumes and musical instruments for creating your own theatrical performances.
Kids love to burn off energy by diving into the Ball Pond, which is filled three feet high with colorful gym balls. There is also a Book Nook for some quiet reading time.
Summer Art Colonies
The art colonies offered by the Children’s Museum of Art each summer provide kids ages six to 14 an opportunity to participate in arts programs given by teaching artists. These award-winning colonies (one- and two-week day sessions that run from Monday to Friday) are offered at the museum in SoHo and on Governors Island, the historic public island accessible only by an eight-minute ferry ride from Lower Manhattan.
The entire idea of the Children’s Museum of the Arts is to get your hands on art, so dress appropriately. There are smocks available for the kids, but it is a good idea for everyone in the family to wear clothes they don’t mind getting dirty.
There is a lounge where you can have a quick snack, and there is food for sale at the front desk. There is no full-service cafeteria on site, but there are plenty of places to eat nearby.
Visiting the Children’s Museum of the Arts
The Children’s Museum of the Arts is located at 185 Lafayette Street (between Grand and Broome Streets) in the SoHo neighborhood of Lower Manhattan.