Museum of Jewish Heritage Gets Techie to Teach History

The Museum of Jewish Heritage knows how to get kids to pay attention to history. Just get techie and give ’em an Ipod and a stunning view.

MJH Voices 01At the museum’s Voices of Liberty exhibit, kids are handed a sensor-activated Ipod. When they stand in one of the themed spots in the room, they’ll hear a voice of a Holocaust survivor, refugee, and others talk about his or her immigrant journey to the U.S.

The extra cool thing about this exhibit is that the New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island provide a very real, spectacular backdrop to the soundscape of stories. As kids listen to a first-person account about seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time, they can look out from the floor-to-ceiling windows and see the real thing.

MJH Gardens of Stone 1At the start of the show, be sure to check out Timekeeper, another exhibit that incorporates technology and the very real to convey history. This interactive exhibit uses a time-lapse camera to record changes to the Andy Goldsworthy’s Garden of Stones sculpture. At the interactive station, kids spin a dial to flashback to the sculpture’s beginning. Afterwards, they can visit and walk through the peaceful park outside just a few floors below.



Met Museum’s Roof Garden Installation: A Magical Spot

The Met Museum’s new roof garden installation is a magical spot for you and the kids to explore art, eat lunch, and take in spectacular views of Central Park and the NYC skyline.

Met Rooftop installation

All photos by Alice Perry

Designed by Dan Graham with Günther Vogt, the commission’s centerpiece is a structure made with curved, reflective glass between two hedge rows. Graham calls the artwork a “two-way mirror hedge labyrinth walkabout,” and although that’s a mouthful, that description basically sums it up. Kids will dig walking into the patio structure and following the S-curved glass, which reflects the skyline and your image in funhouse proportions.

The rooftop itself is covered with synthetic grass so soft that when you sit down you may absented-mindedly Met Rooftop looking overpull on a “blade” like you do with the real stuff. Walk over to the terrace’s edge and drink in the amazing one-of-a-kind views of Central Park. The rooftop area feels like it’s floating and hovering just over the treetops like a magic carpet ride.

While you’re enjoying the view, buy a bite to eat at the Roof Garden Café, which serves tasty sandwiches, salads, and sweets, and take a seat under the shady pergola. And if you’re with some friends and a bit thirsty, try one of the fun specialty drinks like “The Ramble” (sweet tea and lemonade with bourbon) or “The Meadow” (basil syrup and cucumber juice with gin).



All Aboard: A NYC Kids Cruise that Doesn’t Feel Touristy

Circle Cruise view

All photos by Alice Perry

C’mon, admit it. You’ve always wanted to go on one of those NY Harbor cruises with your kids, but you thought they just seemed too (that dreaded word) “touristy.” Well, have no fear. The Circle Line NYC Kids Cruise is a blast for everyone in the whole family and doesn’t feel touristy at all.

Circle Cruise musicDeparting from Pier 83 at W. 42nd St., the two-tiered boat is large enough to provide a smooth ride and to allow kids to roam around, but it’s also small enough not to be overwhelming.

Throughout the 75-minute cruise (just the right amount of time), kids are entertained with a roving magician, face-painting or a balloon artist on the top deck, and a musical performance on the lower level. Despite all the goings-on, the fun feels loose and not regimented or overly organized.

Oh, and did we mention the views? Yes, your kids will be occupied with silly songs and onboard entertainers, but it’s really the sights of lower Manhattan’s skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty that will most captivate your kids (and you too). Thankfully, a tour guide’s loudspeaker facts are kept to a minimum, so that your family can take in NY Harbor’s majesty on your own terms. Even if you do feel a teeny tiny bit like a tourist, you’ll love every minute of the voyage.

Circle Line’s next kids cruise departs this Sat., July 26.



El Museo del Barrio’s “Starter Kit”: A Good Place to Start

El Museo del Barrio’s new show “Museum Starter Kit: Open With Care” pulls back the curtain on the museum’s history and its artistic founder as well as ushering in new standard-bearers of this Puerto Rican and Caribbean art-focused institution.

El Museo Ortiz Maya Zemi

All photos by Alice Perry

Starting the show off with a bang is a huge painting of artist and founder Raphael Montañez Ortiz smashing a piano with an ax, symbolizing both destruction and reconstruction. Kids will dig a number of the exhibit’s art installations, beginning with Ortiz’s Maya Zemí I and Maya Zemí II. Covered in yellow, red, and blue feathers, these sideways pyramids jut out of the wall, begging to be petted (but try not to touch). Interestingly, the concept for this artwork came to the artist in a dream, reminding us that it’s OK to let our kids zone out and daydream and fantasize for at least a little while.

El Museo Brolab Stack and RackDeeper within the exhibit, kids are invited to climb on and explore Stack & Rack. Created by the artist collective BroLab, these 16 plywood cubes are meant to be a public sculpture in the truest sense of the word, one that can be moved around and readjusted. So go on: climb away (or at least take a seat).  Another fun piece is Romy Scheroder’s Skin, which is a gutted wingback chair covered with hundreds of rubber bands.

While you’re at the museum, check out “Presencia: Works from El Museo’s Permanent Collection” across the hall from the main exhibit. Benvenuto Chavajay’s Suave Chapina wins the award for most summer appropriate artwork. The wall installation is made entirely of blue and green latex flip-flops, sure to get you and the kids in the summer mood.

El Museo Suave Chapina  Benvenuto Chavajay

To find more fun at El Museo del Barrio or elsewhere around the city, download our FREE app for iPhone/iPad or Android.






Go East: Rubin Museum’s Chelsea Block Party This Sunday

Sometimes Eastern art can seem a bit intimidating for us westerners. You may wonder if the art’s Eastern precepts will fly over your kids’ heads and if they’ll “get it.” On Sunday, you and the family can test the waters and dip your toes into the Himalayan pond at the Rubin Museum of Art’s Chelsea Block Party.

Rubin Museum Sand Mandala Artist_Losar Family Day

All photos courtesy of The Rubin Museum of Art

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Rubin Museum, which is home to a massive Himalayan art collection, is swinging open its doors with all-day free admission and hosting an outdoor street fair from 1 to 4 p.m.

Rubin Museum Dance 01 IMGP2278At 1:30, Buddhist monks will kick off the event with a blessing. Outside performances will take place throughout the day, including traditional dances by the Dance Theater of Nepal. Kids can get henna tattoos, create and design amulets and masks, and draw their own masterpieces with sidewalk chalk. Inside, you and the kids can watch Buddhist monks create an intricate sand mandala and listen to live classical Himalayan music.

The Rubin Museum is also introducing its new Family Sundays, which take place every Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. The museum proclaims that “Sundays are for families” and rolls out the red carpet for families with kid-friendly tours and art activities like creating woodprints and making animal masks.

To find more fun at the Rubin Museum or elsewhere around the city, download our FREE app for iPhone/iPad or Android.




Six Tips for a Super Chill Time at MoMA PS1 Warm Up

Just because you have kids now doesn’t mean you have to kiss your dancing days goodbye. MoMA PS 1 Warm Up, which happens every Saturday in the summer, is a huge outdoor dance party where you and the kids can join the masses and groove to tunes by an uber-cool DJ. The best part? You can proudly say, “I took my kid to his/her first rave.”

MoMA PS 1 Warmup WS Side 02

All Photos by Alice Perry

Located in the museum’s courtyard, the Warm Up’s crowds and noise can seem a bit overwhelming. Here are a few tips to make the day fun for everyone in the family.

1. Arrive early and leave early. Although the Warm Up concert runs from 3 to 9 p.m., the doors officially open at noon. After 3 p.m., the lines to enter the museum become insane, as do the lines for food and drinks inside. Leave before 6 p.m. when the hipsters start having a little bit too much fun.

MoMA PS 1 Warmup Baby in Water2. Best for your youngest and oldest kids. Because of the crowds and a lot of standing, it’s best if either you can hold your kid (age 3 and under) or your child (usually age 8 and up) doesn’t mind standing for long periods.

3. Bring water diapers. No joke, there is a small kiddie pool in the courtyard that kids can play in or just cool off. Just be aware that the pool doesn’t have a filtration system.

4. Ditch the stroller. Because of the pebbles in the courtyard, you’ll spend more time struggling as you push and shove than enjoying yourself.

MoMA PS 1 Warmup cubby hole - Copy

5. Secret hideouts. If the crowds are too much for the young’uns, duck away into one of the side cubby rooms off the courtyard. Here you can sit down or just take a short break.

6. See some art. Go inside the air-conditioned museum to check out some of the exhibitions. Kids will dig Korakrit Arunanondchai’s installation of a psychedelic altar and stone-denim pillows, while you’ll gravitate Maria Lassnig’s striking paintings.

The overall vibe is very chill where club kids will greet your kids with a “’Sup, dude” and where you’ll score points as one of the cool parents.

To find more fun at MoMA or MoMA PS 1 Warm Up or elsewhere around the city, download our FREE app for iPhone/iPad or Android.



Moptops & Moppets: “A Hard Day’s Night” at Film Forum

It’s a landmark movie playing in a landmark theater. What better way to turn your kids on to film history and one of NYC’s coolest institutions than checking out A Hard Day’s Night at Film Forum.

Film Forum Hard Day's Night Poster

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of A Hard Day’s Night, Film Forum is running a pristine print of the seminal Beatles flick directed by Richard Lester. While kids may balk at the idea of watching a black and white movie, they won’t be able to resist the energy and exuberance of the pell-mell camerawork, non-sequitur editing, and infectious music. The film is silly, goofy, and all those other words associated with kids’ humor.

And, sure, you can watch it on Netflix, but we’re raising New York City kids here. We want them to appreciate arthouse theaters like Film Forum and to groom them into discerning cinephiles (Oh, and the popcorn is fresh and delicious too. It’s white, not that pus-festering yellow you find at cineplexes, and you won’t find any nuclear-processed butter topping here either).

So what do actual kids think? One 9-year-old boy loved the chase scenes (and there are a lot of ’em), and a 4-year-old girl kept singing along to all the songs and asking her daddy, “What’s the name of this song?” We did find one unimpressed kid, however, who told RedRover that it wasn’t as good as Transformers. Hey, there are plenty of AMC theaters to see that, but there’s only one Film Forum.

To find more fun at Film Forum or elsewhere around the city, download our FREE app for iPhone/iPad or Android.


New York Hall of Science’s New Design Lab Puts Kids in the Driver’s Seat

The hottest new movement in science education has come to the New York Hall of Science. Bolstering its reputation as one of the most hands-on museums in the five boroughs, NYSCI has revamped and rebuilt its lower level to create “Design Lab.”


All photos by Alice Perry

This fresh permanent exhibit engages kids with five distinct “pods” or large activity areas that all have the earmarks of the Maker Movement, a fast-growing education trend that emphasizes using everyday materials to explore, create, and come up with powerful new ideas all on your own. This DIY movement puts kids firmly in the driver’s seat; NYSCI just provides the tools and guidance.

NYHSCI dowel

Kids love to touch and build, and that’s why Design Lab succeeds. Here are the five pods, which will have changing activities throughout the year:

1. Sandbox: sorry, no sand, instead, kids are challenged to build a large structure like one using dowels and rubber bands;

NYHSCI shadow puppet2. Backstage: kids devise solutions to deliver the perfect performance like a shadow puppet show;

3. Studio: families construct tabletop structures, illuminated and animated by LEDs, motors, and circuits;

4. Treehouse: kids explore gravity, shape, and air resistance by dropping their creations from the elevated walkway in the Design Lab. (You know this will be your kids’ favorite); and

5. Maker Space, which opened in 2012: kids learn how to use tools to convert design ideas into prototypes.

Design Lab is all about the process rather than the outcome. It’s about kids getting inspired by their own creativity and finding their own way.

To find more fun at the New York Hall of Science or elsewhere around the city, download our FREE app for iPhone/iPad or Android.





Dioramas, Bicycles, and Snakes: Ai Weiwei at the Brooklyn Museum

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is the darling of the international art world, and your darlings will love his artwork too. Much of the artist’s exhibit, “According to What?,” which runs until Aug. 10 at the Brooklyn Museum, is conceptual, but it’s easily accessible and speaks to kids as well. The show fills two floors of the museum and part of the lobby area, but we’ll narrow it down and give you the highlights of what your kids will dig.

Brooklyn Museum Ai Weiwei SACRED

All photos by Alice Perry

On the first floor, you might walk right past those six large rust-colored cubes. But put the brakes on the stroller and take a closer look. Entitled S.A.C.R.E.D., these iron boxes are dioramas that document Ai’s imprisonment by Chinese authorities. Yes, it’s a little bleak-sounding, but the kids will love looking through the peek-a-boo windows and spying on these sculptural recreations of the artist as he eats and sleeps.

Brooklyn Museum Ai Weiwei Stacked

Be sure also to check out Stacked, which is also located on the first floor near the brick arcade that separates the lobby from the Rubin Pavilion. This site-specific installation features 700 stainless steel bicycles interlocked together creating a monumental wall of wheels, spokes, and frames.

On the fifth floor, kids will gravitate to Moon Chest, which are seven huge chests evenly spaced across half a gallery. Each chest has four circular openings. When viewed from one end, the openings align in such a way to suggest the moon phases. Of course, kids will ignore contemplating heavenly bodies and prefer to stand at one end, look through the holes, and yell, “Can you see me, Mommy?”

Head down the gallery and check out Ai’s most well-known work, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn. What kid wouldn’t love the sheer anarchy of the photos of Ai blithely smashing an ancient artifact? In the foreground, kids can stroll around actual Han Dynasty vases that Ai has defaced by dipping them in bright industrial paint or stenciling a “Coca-Cola” logo (although “Capri-Sun” or “Gatorade” would be more apropos for today’s kids) across its surface.

Ai Weiwei Snake Ceiling

On the fourth floor, stop by the far end gallery to see Snake Ceiling. Although the artwork’s symbolism will make your heart heavy (it’s made of hundreds of backpacks to represent students who perished in the horrendous 2008 Sichuan earthquake), kids will stick get a kick out of seeing the snake suspended from the ceiling. Directly under Snake Ceiling are 3,000 orange and gray porcelain crabs. This installation is so steeped in Chinese symbolism and play-on words that some adults may barely “get it,” but kids will love seeing these roped-off crustaceans and wonder, “Are they real?”

To find more fun elsewhere around the city, download our FREE app for iPhone/iPad or Android.



Giants and Big, Bold Words at Jewish Museum

Two summer exhibits at the Jewish Museum are surefire kid-pleasers. One involves a giant, and the other lots of big, bold, and sometimes bad words.

Jewish Museum Eddie Carmel shoes

All Photos by Alice Perry

Diane Arbus’s Jewish Giant” is a small exhibit that’s the perfect size for your youngest gallery-goers. Delving into the story behind Arbus’s famous photo of Eddie Carmel, once billed as “the world’s tallest man,” the exhibit showcases the “giant’s” personal belongings, like his size 35 shoes and huge rings. At the center of the exhibit is Arbus’s photo of Carmel towering over his almost bewildered-looking parents in their cramped living room. The show, which ends Aug. 3, also focuses on the phenomena of freaks, spectacles, and folk heroes, and includes a Hulk memorabilia section for all the superhero fans in your family.

Mel Bochner Small Fart

While the museum does provide a family guide for the exhibit “Mel Bochner: Strong Language,” it isn’t promoting the show as ideal family fare. Use your own judgment on what you want to expose to your children. Yes, there are R-rated words. But there are also many fun paintings that kids will love such as Small Fart (another four-lettered F word). The colors are bold and exciting, and kids can relate to the works’ finger-painting quality. Best of all, the artist’s love of language is contagious.

Mel Bochner Amazing

For these 70 paintings and drawings, Bochner used Roget’s Thesaurus as his main inspiration. Written in block letters, the words run along lines on the painting just like an exercise in a composition book. In each painting, a progression of tame and playful words begins and then builds into a fiery and unbridled crescendo. The show runs until Sept. 21.

To turn kids onto art, you need them to do it rather than just to look at it. And that’s where the museum’s drop-in Monday workshops come in. Starting in July, the museum will host two sessions: Art Adventure Monday for kids age 4 to 7 and Art in July for kids age 4 and up. Both use the exhibits as a jumping-off point for creativity. In one session, kids will explore language and the power of words in Bochner’s vibrant paintings, while in another, they’ll learn how a person’s clothing, facial expression, and pose tell a story as they do in Arbus’s photos.

To find more fun at the Jewish Museum or elsewhere around the city, download our FREE app for iPhone/iPad or Android.