Our family has been to several children’s museums along the East Coast. We spent a weekend in the beginning of spring checking out the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.
The EatSleepPlay: Building Health Every Day exhibit is the first thing you see when you enter the museum. A crowd of children gathered around the NYC Green Cart Eat display. The giant cart consists of a pulley allowing children to hoist fruits and vegetables to the top level where the vendor can sell it from its card or recycle it down a pipe. On the other side of the cart is a giant, yellow slide.
The creative tool was educating children about the importance of nutrition through play. While kids may not have any interest in learning about how many calories are in McDonald’s french fries or how diabetes occurs, parents will enjoy reading the informative panels.
There are several interactive activities here including crawling through a giant digestive system. Enter the stomach where you control the brain’s ability to feel full. The Eat Area ends with natural gas which in turn leads you to the Royal Flush. Pull the lever to hear an English accented female tell you all about your bowels. It sounds gross, but it’s actually quite interesting in learning how our body functions.
The Sleep Center area is a small section, but most of the interactive elements were broken. The one section that was popular was the importance of getting enough sleep and warding off bedtime monsters. The Laser Dance Entry encompasses the Play area. Learn how movement can be good for your heart.
The entire second floor is dedicated to Adventures with Dora and Diego. Take backpack for a ride in Tico’s car, cross Rainbow Bridge and enjoy a fiesta at Dora’s house. Explore a cave with Diego, rescue baby turtles or examine animal x-rays.
I was disappointed in this for several reasons: there were two pieces of fruit to play with at Dora’s produce stand and nothing at the house which was set up with a kitchen and bedroom, the phone to hear sounds of animals was broken and there was no paper or crayons to do animal print rubbings.
Play Works is geared to babies up to age 4, but there were several 5 and 6 year olds literally having a ball. There is a soft space filled with blocks and interactive lullabies for crawlers, lava wheels (similar to lava lamps), giant Lite Brite, pulleys for moving and building blocks, and a climb on dragon named Alphie.
Popular with my child was driving the fire truck and putting out the flame and the Little Apple Deli where she got to weigh her produce, cook and be a cashier. Pretty much a grocery store environment is required for my daughter to enjoy a children’s museum.
Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of time to learn about the Monkey King: A Story from China exhibit. A copy of the book is available to learn about this popular Chinese story. My daughter loved putting on a puppet show with the monkey king while another little girl played the emperor.
We didn’t get to investigate the City Splash exhibit because it is closed for the season. In the warmer months, the exhibit is open for all ages to learn about the environment through hands-on-water exploration. Other things of interest are Bjork’s Biophilia, Playmobil displays, and brain puzzle games, and the newly opened 10-Foot Cops: The NYPD’s Mounted Unit.
On any given day of the week, there are ongoing programs, workshops and events. Children 4 and under can learn about the importance of nutrition through games and science experiments in Hands-on-Healthy Tots. Ages 5 and up can create make goop in Meet the Artist, or hear a reading in Meet the Author or watch a cooking demo with a chef in Healthy Lifestyles.
Throughout the year all ages will enjoy the Family Festivals. Note that all of the programs mentioned above require same-day registration. Limited tickets are distributed one hour before each event at the visitor information desk.
The museum is good for toddlers to children up to eight years of age. There is no cafeteria and bringing in food is prohibited. However, your hand is stamped upon entry so you can leave and come back during the same day. We didn’t get to spend as much time as we would have liked to because they were promptly closing for a private birthday party.
Allow your family a minimum of three hours here because there is quite a lot of stuff to do here. We were informed by a staff member that exhibitions do change throughout the year so research this before you go.
Both men and women’s bathrooms are equipped with diaper changing tables. We avoided the gift shop, but took advantage of the free coat check. The museum requires strollers to be stored at coat check. Admission is $11 per person; children under 12 months are free.
The museum is closed most Mondays, so go Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm with extended hours on Saturday until 7pm. On the first Friday of every month, through sponsorship from Target, admission is free from 5 to 8pm.
CMOM is located in The Tisch Building in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I highly recommend taking public transportation like the subway or taxi. If you choose to drive, there is a parking garage on West 83rd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. Make sure you get your parking ticket validated at the museum to receive a 15% discount.