What to do, what to do, what to do? It’s a question I love asking myself whenever we have a day (or days!) of fun to plan. One-day outing or full blown vacation alike, you can almost always expect to find me hunkered down with a laptop and a cup of coffee searching for new adventures in the weeks leading up to the actual date. Almost always, because sometimes tried-and-true is exactly what you crave most. It’s those other times I’m talking about here, the days that call for the breaking-in of some place new!
This was precisely the case when we first discovered the Children’s Museum of the Arts in downtown Manhattan. We’re no strangers to great kid-friendly museums, having run up and down the halls of quite a few over the years including local favorites like the adorable Children’s Museum of the East End, the Maritime Explorium, and the American Museum of Natural History. Further away, we’ve had incredible times at the amazing Boston Children’s Museum, Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry, and Science Museum Oklahoma. This time, however, something small and close was in order for a day of fun in the city.
My search landed me at the Children’s Museum of the Arts’ website. It was new to us. It was different. It was our winner. And from the moment we stepped inside the museum it completely captivated every bit of the children’s imaginations! Where to even begin?? The museum offers an enormous variety of hands-on programs and workshops taught by experts in the field-artists themselves- in as many different art mediums. The space itself is open, clean, and well-organized.
We spent some time in nearly every nook, going where the kiddos’ curiosity led us. We started in the Bridge and Swirl Studio areas upstairs, spots where the kiddos can play and relax in a room full of twirling bucket chairs and a beautiful, colorfully decorated passageway replete with cushions and cozy sitting spots. From there we headed to the media lab where the littles were introduced to (and fell in love with!) stop-motion animation and spent a long time making their own little video shorts with all the focus and patience you would expect from any activity that truly fascinates and grips them!
Eventually we made our way to our appointment at the aptly named Clay Bar where, seated on stools up at the bar, an instructor helps them create intricate little masterpieces based on the day’s theme (or anything they like!) out of, you guessed it, clay! Again they were focused and inspired and completely in their element! We ended our day many, many hours later at the WEE Arts Studio, a space dedicated to younger children where they can draw, paint, and otherwise create art to their heart’s content for as long as they want.
Afterward we grabbed a quick bite to eat down the street at Pret A Manger. There are so many foodie options nearby but this time, famished and exhausted after a day of fun, we decided to keep it simple! Did we see and do it all? Not even close! We didn’t get to stop by the Sound Booth where kids can create and record their own music or the Fine Arts Studio where they can do more painting and drawing as well as sculpting and sewing! But that’s totally okay with us because we accomplished what we’d set out to do in the first place- we let the littles’ curiosity direct us as they spent their precious time however they saw fit…plus it gives us more reasons to go back soon!