I finally made the trip to Brooklyn Children’s Museum this past weekend and am already planning a return trip. This unique indoor play space brings to life an enjoyable balance of educational yet playful experiences. I didn’t expect such a huge range of subject matter. I also didn’t expect my daughter to take such interest in the parts she did. Brooklyn Children’s Museum is a NYC’s educational treasure.
I’ve visited many children’s museums across the states and am a fan of them…most of the time. Brooklyn Children’s Museum sets themselves apart and takes the concept to such a higher level. This is no warehouse space hidden in the back of a strip mall with a broken down firetruck inside. This space was carefully crafted by engineers, architects and childhood development experts. Most importantly, children contribute extensively in the planning of the museum’s exhibits. It’s actually the first children’s museum in the U.S. (dating back to 1899) and currently rated among the top 12 by Forbes Magazine. Although I can appreciate that, my 4 year old doesn’t care. Here’s what your kids can expect if you plan a visit.
The museum is large at over 100,000 square feet. It’s well designed into three different levels and the layout allows you to easily experience each section without accidentally missing anything. As you enter you walk into a visual playground. We were immediately drawn to the tunnel made of corrugated metal with neon rainbow lighting and water flowing through a structure in the center. There’s not much to actually do in the tunnel, but it set the tone for our day. From there we wandered from section to section, allowing our daughter to take the lead on where she wanted to explore.
This is a gated space dedicated for little ones ages 0-5. This area features several sensory sections as creative as their names like: Baby Patch, Kids’ Quarry, Sand Spot, Peek-A-Boutique, Play Pond, Reading Nook, and Parent Junction. Our daughter has outgrown this section so we didn’t spend any time here. Although I did step in to see what it was like and found it precious. Full of little kids splashing, making a big mess and proud parents standing around smiling and snapping photos.
This area allows kids of all ages to learn about ecosystems through hands on play.
My daughter played with a magnifying glass to investigate flowers, experimented with dam building and got a peek at what it’s like to be a duck by poking her head up through a dome in the middle of a pond. This area was my favorite. The displays are unusual, interactive but most of all they are fun. There’s also a chance to see turtles, lizards, birds and a touch tank with star fish and other sea creatures.
This is a really charming mini strip of kid-sized stores. Each model looks like a real business in an actual NYC neighborhood. With all the families walking in and out you really get the sense you’re in a legit shopping district. The pretend store concept is a classic in most children’s museums I’ve visited, but this one is done better. The stores are a little bigger, the features are a little nicer and overall they are much better designed. As with all other museums, items were misplaced, damaged or other kids were already using them. My daughter was disappointed she didn’t get to play with the conveyor belt the minute she wanted to…but I call that a life lesson. Her frustration was easily distracted when she saw a real life Vespa-like scooter she could try.
Greenhouse and Garden
Alongside the Neighborhood Nature section is a greenhouse and garden area filled with lush local vegetation and some wildlife. I saw clipboards where you could check off what you saw including specific types of birds, trees and insects all located within this area. I was eager to do this with my daughter. However the day we visited there was a special project hosted in this area which won her attention. An instructor set up little work stations where kids learned how to conduct electricity using circuits and play dough. If they built it correctly a light would turn on, or a buzzer would sound. To my surprise my little 4 year old daughter thrived playing with this experiment. She loved it so we spent a bit of time in this area.
This area is located upstairs. It’s a large wide open space filled with different sections to explore plus a great view of their gorgeous roof space. We played with colorful tiles on a light box, pieced together some artifacts and created art using strips of fabric on a fence. My favorite part was when my daughter took a seat on a sketching bench and asked her dad to pose so she could draw him. We took her seriously, he stuck a pose and she sketched away. I stood in the background trying not to laugh too loud and snapped my favorite picture of them to date.
We also took a break at the cafe where our daughter ate the lunch we brought for her from home and we ate from their restaurant EAT. The food was reasonable but slightly pricey for what we had.
The museum itself was an excellent experience. There were other areas we didn’t spend much time, so this review doesn’t cover every part of the museum. This is the kind of place where you could easily have a new experience with each visit. My daughter is four and it seems this may be the sweet spot for this type of indoor play. We went with friends who have a 2.5 year old and 10 month old. The older boy truly enjoyed himself. Their 10 month old was amused for sure, but he’s such a happy kid he probably would have been just as happy at a laundry mat 🙂
- The Museum is designed for kids between the ages of 2 and 10.
- Admission is $11 per person, under one year old is free.
- Every Thursday 2-6 is free!
- IDNYC is honored here.
- The museum offers several different membership options.
- Check out their calendar of events.
- There’s a great playground and park located behind the museum.
- Bring your own lunch to make a full day outing.
- We drove and easily found street parking.
- The museum is accessible via public transportation.
- Coat check and stroller check are free.
- I saw a few strollers being used throughout the museum but you’re encouraged to check them.
- This is a great rainy day activity with kids.
- Something I found really interesting was the “green” aspect of the museum. While my daughter was immersed in play it was cool to check out the flooring and display cases made from recycled materials. Things not as obvious but equally impressive are the solar heating, and specialized wells and panels which help generate electricity for the space.
- Here’s a short video we made showing the space and our daughter enjoying it:
Brooklyn Children’s Museum
145 Brooklyn Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11213
Tuesdays – Sundays 10am – 5pm
Thursdays 10am – 6pm