Visiting the Museum of Modern Art (Moma) New York With Kids
One of the largest and most influential museums of modern art in the world is also one of the most welcoming to children. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is a place to take kids to encourage their creativity, let them explore and, most importantly, have fun.
Kids, especially younger ones, can be a tricky mix with an art gallery, as kids love to move and art loves to basically stand still on a wall. However, art galleries and kids can work and even be fun. Here are my tips for ensuring everyone enjoys the incredible MoMA.
Talk about what you’re going to see
Have a quick chat before you go in about what modern art is, and what they are going to see and do at the museum. Paintings! Photographs! Sculptures! A helicopter! I find it helpful to tell kids what is on offer for them to do, and then what you’re going to do that you want to do (ie look at the art!).
Discuss the rules
Also important to discuss in advance. Explain especially to younger kids why they can’t touch the art because the natural oils on our fingers can leave harmful prints. Tell them to ask before touching anything as a general rule.
Research what exhibitions are on
A quick look at the website will tell you what special exhibitions or permanent works are on display. I choose the Impressionist gallery for our visit because Cheese has read books on this art period and I knew she would be excited to see the paintings in real life.
Attend a family program
While none of these were on the day we visited, I highly recommend scheduling a visit around a family-friendly tour, art workshop, film, or activity station are offered offered seasonally on the weekends for families with kids ages 4–14. There is also the “Create Ability” program for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities. See moma.org/family for more info.
Get real about how much art kids can take
The MoMA is huge and while it’s tempting to see everything, particularly if you are visiting the city and won’t have a chance to come back, aim to spend about 30-90 mins including breaks. Longer if your kid gets obsessed with ArtLab like mine did.
Pick up free Activity Cards
The activity cards contain activities, questions and ideas for looking at pieces of art throughout the MoMA. They are available at information desks on each floor of the museum.
We loved these activity cards and they led us on a scavenger hunt throughout the museum to located the art works and then find out more about them.
Visit Art Lab
ArtLab is an interactive space that is free with museum admission. To reach it, walk across the Sculpture Garden or down the corridor on the second floor of the Museum (past Cafe 2), then downstairs to the first floor of The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building.
ArtLab lets kids and adults engage with art through hands-on activities. They can play and experiment with different materials and concepts, create masterpieces and contribute to group projects. There are activities to engage toddlers through to grade schoolers and even their parents.
Stroll through the sculpture garden
We loved the sculpture garden! as well as being visually impressive, the sculptures can be walked around or through, and several can be touched. The sculpture garden is free to access even without a ticket to the museum.
Feed the kids
Cafe 2 is the most kid-friendly dining area in the MoMA, with a kids’ menu and high chairs. Cheese ordered the pasta which came with a side of fruit, and I ordered a tomato soup.
The Sculpture Garden café also offers snacks.
Take a bathroom break
There are diaper-changing stations available in most of the bathrooms, and the dedicated family bathrooms are on Floors 1, 5, T1, and on the mezzanine
level of the Education and Research Building.
Take an audio tour
Pick up a free audio tour for kids or download the MoMA app, which has kid-friendly information.
Museum of Modern Art
Hours: Daily, 10:30am–5:30pm. Open till 8pm Fridays.
11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019
Kids 16 and under receive free admission to the Museum.
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!