New York state is chock full of museums and cultural institutions that not only grab kids’ attention and pull them into the world of art, history, science and culture, but also show them that museums are more fun — and contain artifacts and exhibits that are a lot more familiar — than they think. Here are our picks for unique, family-friendly museum and cultural experiences in New York state that provide hours of fun and educational activities for adults and kids alike.
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Right in the heart of Cooperstown, the Hall of Fame’s collections contain more than 35,000 three-dimensional artifacts, among them Joe DiMaggio’s locker, seats from Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, the well-worn original baseball made at Doubleday’s behest, 5,000 other balls associated with significant players or moments, and 130,000 rare baseball cards.
Established in 1939, the museum documents the history of our nations’ pastime. Children will enjoy the Sandlot Kids’ Club — an interactive, educational program the includes a height chart of famous players in the major league, the Negro leagues and the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Families enjoy the interactive literacy corner called “What’s On Next” and a 37-inch LCD screen featuring video programs such as Curious George Plays Baseball, narrated by Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson.
- 25 Main St., Cooperstown, NY 13326
- Hours: Daily, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM; summer hours — daily, 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day
- Admission: Adults, $16.50; seniors 65 and older, $11; children ages 7 to 12, $6; children under 6, free
This living-history museum brings 19th-century rural America to life, offering families the opportunity to experience aspects of farmer’s lives 150 years ago. The site sits on land that has been a working farm since 1813, when James Fenimore Cooper owned it. The museum demonstrates everyday occupations such as broom making and weaving to milking cows and blacksmithing. In spring, newborn calves, lambs and ducklings especially appeal to children. Hands-on kid’s projects cultivate an understanding of our rural heritage.
- 5775 State Highway 80, Cooperstown, NY 13326
- Hours: April 1 through May 10, Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM with reduced admission rate; May 11 through October 11, daily, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM; October 12 through 31, Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
- Admission: Adults, $12; seniors 65 and older, $10.50; children, ages 7 to 12, $6; children under 7, free
Staten Island Children’s Museum
On the park-like grounds of Snug Harbor Cultural Center in two historic buildings, the museum houses eight hands-on interactive exhibits that range from role-playing on a restored 1947 fire truck to exploring the lives of insects. Families can participate in art workshops, special programs and performances on cooking, storytelling and animal feeding. Children here can pretend to be a chef, pirate, movie star, bug, dogsled musher, fire chief, artist, carpenter, tugboat captain and scientist, and more. (Photo at top of page from the Staten Island Children’s Museum.)
- 1000 Richmond Terrace at Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Staten Island, NY 10301
- Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM; Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
- Admission: Adults, $5; children ages 12 to 18, $3; children under 12, free
Corning Museum of Glass
As the world’s largest glass museum, it chronicles 35 centuries of glass artistry. Visitors are wowed by make-your-own glass classes, live hot-glass-blowing shows, meet-and-greets with the artists and special kids’ series specials during the summer. The museum also offers several interactive and hands-on displays that help children learn about glass.Its Rakow Research Library — the library of record on glass and glassmaking — and The Studio, a glassmaking school, round out a full day’s visit.
- 1 Museum Way, Corning, NY 14830
- Hours: Daily, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM; Memorial Day through Labor Day, daily 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM
- Admission: Adults, $14.00; kids and teens 19 and under, free.
- Make-Your-Own Glass events: Sunday through Friday, 11:00 AM to 4:20 PM; last session ends at 5:00 PM. Saturday 9:20 AM to 5:20 PM; last session ends at 6:00 PM. Depending on the glass piece, prices range from $10 to $28.
Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages
This museum’s art collection includes more than 4000 paintings, sculptures and prints, and a collection of more than 200 horse-drawn carriages and rare artifacts from the carriage era. It also features a 19th-century carriagemaking shop and two new galleries: A Gentleman’s Coach House, and the European Vehicles Gallery. As part of America’s Test Kitchens (on exhibit through October 17, 2010), visitors can learn how to churn butter and make dishes popular in specific eras. The exhibit show demonstrates how families in the past lived in the absence of modern technology.
- 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook, Long Island, NY 11790
- Hours: Wednesday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM; Sunday, 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM
- Admission: Adults, $9; seniors, $7; children under 6, free; children 6 to 17 years, $4
Jewish Children’s Museum
Visitors can explore Jewish history and culture, the land of Israel, contemporary Jewish life and heritage through multimedia technology in this vast museum, which features an art gallery, two state-of-the-art computer labs, a game show studio, a 75-seat audiovisual theater, a miniature golf course and a craft workshop.
Hands-on exhibits focus on Jewish holiday rituals, such as sitting in a beautifully decorated sukkah, pressing olive oil for Chanukah and retelling the Purim story with puppets, playing a virtual reality bow-and-arrow game for Lag B’Omer and writing names in Hebrew like a Torah scribe. Families can experience the biblical story of creation with a three-dimensional, multimedia display.
- 792 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11213
- Hours: Monday through Thursday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM; Friday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM; closed Sunday
- Admission: $10 per person; children under 2, free
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