In a 21st century world technology is king and some museums are seeing that as a source of inspiration and opportunity. Institutions are exploring math, science and history in innovative ways and are using technology to create some of the smartest exhibits in town – especially if that town is New York City. Come check out some of the smartest NYC museums.
New York City has 83 museums throughout the five boroughs to explore on any given day. A museum is, by definition, is a place where objects of permanent value are kept. As humans, our values are ever-changing and museums are innovating to keep visitors interested. Here are some of the most interesting NYC museums to visit now.
New York Hall of Science – 47-01 111th Street, Queens
Although it’s a bit of a hike from Manhattan, it is well worth the effort to visit this interactive science complex that was first founded at the 1964-65 World’s Fair.
Children learn about science in a way that is fun and relatable. Their current exhibit, Connected Worlds, features six environments: jungle, desert, wetlands, mountain valley, reservoir, and plains. This exhibit uses real world issues and explores the interconnectedness of different environments, strategizes to keep systems in balance, and illustrates how the individual and collective actions of people can have widespread impact.
The center is also currently featuring the film, Robot 3D, that teaches how humanoid robots are made and asks the philosophical question: What makes us human?
American Museum of Natural History – Central Park West at 70th St, Manhattan
The AMNH has always been the go-to museum for families and visitors in New York City. Its Hayden Planetarium and revolving science-based exhibits are always a hit but it just got more exciting.
A new 122-foot-long dinosaur went on display this month. Paleontologists have determined that this dinosaur, a giant herbivore that belongs to a group known as titanosaurs, weighed in at around 70 tons—as much as 10 African elephants. This species of dinosaur is so new it hasn’t even been named by the paleontologists who discovered it in Argentina’s Patagonia region in 2014. It is thought to be one of the largest dinosaurs ever found.
The cast is based on 84 fossil bones that were found on the archeological site. The life-sized skeleton on display doesn’t include any real fossils, which are far too heavy to mount. Instead, 3D technology was used to create prints made of fiberglass–and that in itself is amazing. Five of the original fossils found will be on temporary exhibit, including a femur that is over 8 ft high!
National Museum of Mathematics – 11 E 26th Street, Manhattan, (Across from Madison Square Park)
Math has come a long way from the days when Barbie told little girls, “Math class is tough!” Math is made cool for both boys and girls at this museum but more importantly it strives to show children through hands-on interactive exhibits how math is important not only in our day-to-day lives but for our future.
Past events at this museum have included speakers like astronaut Eileen Collins, who told kids she did not love math until she was 17 years old. She let the child audience know that just because you struggle in middle school doesn’t mean you won’t be great at math one day, and she should know.
The New York Historical Society Museum – 170 Central Park West, Manhattan (across the street from the Museum of Natural History)
Did you know New York City was once the hub of computer technology in America?
The current exhibit, Silicon City: Computer History Made in New York, explores how local innovations during the 60’s were key to computer development in later years. This pioneering work came as a result of interest in the 1964 World’s Fair. It is hard no to let the giant desktop IBM computer from the 80’s (that is in a museum but used to be in your living room) make you feel old.
If you missed your school’s recent Hour of Code event, it is not too late. Kids eight and up can attend a pay-as-you-wish Friday evening workshop in January and February. The workshops build on the games and technologies on display. Both parents and children can learn how to code in this drop-in lab. Visitors will learn how to animate a simple cartoon using a coding program for beginners called “Scratch,” which was created by Google, Inc. to encourage children, and especially girls, to get interested in coding and computer technology careers.
For younger children, the museum also has permanent exhibits targeted to children at the Dimenna Children’s History Museum.
The Lower East Side Tenement Museum – 97 Orchard Street, Manhattan
Once your children have explored our future they can learn about the past. Located on the lower east side, this museum is one of those places that you hear about and always intend to check out, but never seem to have the time.
I’d always assumed it was a small building where visitors would peruse static dated exhibits and leave with a piqued interest in this important era in New York and American history. In actuality, it is a five-story brick tenement building was home to an estimated 7,000 people, from over 20 countries, between 1863 and 1935.
Since immigration is a hot political topic these days, this museum is a great way to introduce children to the concept of immigration and how newly immigrated citizens lived and were treated at a time when our borders were wide open. The museum embraces the concept of interactive exhibits by featuring actors that play people from the past. They answer questions but also reach out directly to children to get their opinions and thoughts. Some of these tours may not be suitable for children of all ages so it is a good idea to check out the museum’s website before booking a tour.