In early January of this year, our family of 5 was stuck in New York City for 3 nights due to a blizzard. While we mostly happily hunkered down in our hotel, we also got out into the city a bit every day. On Friday, while my husband worked from the hotel, I took my three girls to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
I love art museums and had never been to MoMA in New York. I’ve also written before about how I love taking my kids to art museums. On this particular day, I needed an adventure that got us out of the hotel, that was inside (the temperature was below zero) and that would be interesting to both me and the girls. I was blown away by the kid friendliness of MoMA. We ended up spending over 4 hours in the museum and I can’t recommend this incredible gem in NYC with kids enough!
Here is my list of the amazing kid-friendly things about MoMA in New York City:
1.Free admission for kids & free coat/bag check
All kids under 16 are free (they also have several days where everyone is free such as 4-8 on Friday nights although I’ve heard these times are very crowded) and they have a free coat check. We were able to check all of our bulky winter coats, hats and gloves which was incredibly helpful. We also had to check my backpack, but they gave me a small tote bag to carry my wallet and phone.
Bonus tip: With kids, I recommend visiting the museum right when they open and on a weekday, if possible, to avoid the crowds. For the first couple hours we had several spaces all to ourselves.
2. Passports & Help Desks
Upon entering, a staff member lured us to one of the help desks to load us up with all of the kid-friendly materials including free family activity guides, the Family Visit brochure, the Family Program schedule and an art museum passport (with a pencil). Basically, the passports are full of questions and activities that – as they are completing – the kids get stamped at the help desk on each floor of the museum.
Bonus tip: Sketching is allowed in the galleries with pencils only – which they provide. I like to bring sketchbooks for the girls to work in at art museums, but they weren’t needed thanks to the passports.
3. Art Lab
Located in the educational building, the art lab offers hands-on, interactive activities for all museum visitors and is open whenever the museum is open. The Art Lab is a kid-friendly interactive space where kids and parents can experiment, create and play with tools and materials provided in the space. The focus is to offer a gateway to the collections, allowing visitors to engage with the art that they see. My girls had a blast creating furniture models inspired by nature, choosing art boxes to learn about new techniques and playing an interactive game connecting art and music.
4. Kid-friendly Audio Tours
We didn’t get the kid-friendly audio tour this visit (we will definitely be back), but I spoke with the staff about them. One staff member explained, “It’s kind of like a treasure hunt for the kids to look around the galleries for the pieces that have accompanying children’s audio tour content.”
5. Recognizable Art
I think the most famous and recognizable piece of work at MoMA is Van Gogh’s A Starry Night which is totally crazy and wonderful to see in person. We also loved seeing Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World. I have found that museum experiences with kids are more enjoyable when they recognize some works. From Picasso and Frida Kahlo to Warhol and Dali – there are literally hundreds of artists to explore at MoMA with your kids.
MoMA has several dining options for snack breaks and lunch – we visited both Café 2 (on the second floor) and Terrace 5 (on the fifth floor). The staff was super friendly to the kids and we enjoyed coloring table clothes, hot chocolate, and extra bread with our soup at lunch.
7. Sculpture Garden
The sculpture garden was closed due to the freezing temperatures and snow, but we were able to look out from the giant windows in the lobby – my girls loved the giant rose sculpture. When it is open, kids can run and play while parents sip a glass of wine which is heaven to me.
Check out my other art-friendly posts:
- 10 Tips for Visiting Art Museums with Kids
- The Perfect Nashville Art Gallery Crawl
- 11 Nashville Murals we Love