Museums To Visit In The Upper West Side

kids standing at the entrance of the American Museum of Natural History

Another weekend, another place to visit in New York City! You can go dine out, see a movie, meet up with friends for happy hour…but aren’t those things you can do any day? Take this weekend as an opportunity to try something new. Curious about dinosaurs? Eager to explore folk art? Do something educational with the kids!  Explore some museums in the Upper West Side. Here are some highlights of each one:

American Museum of Natural History

The Met and MoMa can wait, because the American Museum of Natural History is where you’ll want to be this weekend. Not only was Night at the Museum filmed there, but this classic museum is full of so many amazing exhibitions that you’ll start wishing the day was longer than 24 hours.

The Museum is celebrated for its exhibitions and scientific collections, which are a field guide to the entire planet and give a preview of the world’s cultures. Find out what happens in your body by attending The Secret World Inside You exhibition, which explains the complexities of the human microbiome (community of 100 trillion bacteria living on and inside our bodies), thus changing conceptions of human health and providing new approaches on common health problems such as allergies, asthma, and obesity. Another new exhibition we recommend is one you’ve probably seen advertised on the subway. Dinosaurs might be extinct, but Dinosaurs Among Us uses fossil records to demonstrate that the species isn’t so different from (and in fact, evolved into) birds.

There’s plenty to see at the Hayden Planetarium, but make sure you experience the Dark Universe exhibition. Questions about the universe will arise, as you travel through places in space that mankind did not even know existed…is the universe infinite? The Hayden Planetarium is the real reason people keep coming back to the American Museum of Natural History.

If you’re worried about not having time to eat before you get there, don’t fret: AMNH has a food court that appeals to all tastes and ages as well as 3 cafes, to ensure you stay energized during your tour. The food court is not to be missed, particularly since the exquisite Chef’s Table is prepared daily by Executive Chef Stephen Neligan.

Did we mention that there are exhibits of the characters from the Night at the Museum saga on the Night At The Museum tour?

inside of American Folk Art Museum
Photo: courtesy American Folk Art Museum

American Folk Art Museum

Another museum worth roaming around in UWS is definitely American Folk Art Museum. Since 1961, the museum has been a haven for the creative expression of past and present self-taught artists. It includes more than 7000 artworks from several mediums (three dimensional works, books, paintings, photographs, textiles, and works on paper) dating from the 18th century to today. One of our favorite collections would definitely be the 1909 Hupmobile Weathervane.

Contemporary American culture is full of enigmatic and peculiar fraternal references, but secret societies and their cryptic rituals and gestures have been around since the eighteenth century. Mystery and Benevolence: Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art from the Kendra and Allan Daniel Collection exemplifies the foundations of fraternal belief through two hundred works of art that combine powerful imagery, form, and meaning. To reflect its spirit, acclaimed musicians will be playing from 5:30pm to 7:30pm as part of the museum’s Free Music Fridays. Although unusual, the exhibition is insightful and entertaining. Check it out soon, since it’s running until May 8.

children at the America to Zanzibar exhibition in Children's Museum of Manhattan
Taken at the America to Zanzibar exhibition; Photo: courtesy Children’s Museum of Manhattan

Children’s Museum of Manhattan

We haven’t forgotten about the youngsters! CMOM allows you and other families to learn and play with your children in a nurturing and vibrant environment. They have numerous programs that guarantee your kids will have a blast, especially their two exhibitions.

First, the recent America to Zanzibar exhibition is open to all ages, so all your kids can enjoy creative hands-on experiences and ultimately learn about fascinating objects, images and information from over 50 countries. For example, they can explore ancient trade routes on a two story Indian Ocean dhow (boat), or on a camel. Imagine how great they’ll be at Wall Street if they are naturals at pretending to buy/sell/trade fruit, fish, spice, ceramic, textiles, and rugs.

As for the ongoing exhibition, PlayWorks™ helps every kid under 4 years old prepare for school via daily Art Lab programs, where they build physical, social, math, art, science, literacy and problem-solving skills, not to forget the self-confidence, independence and awareness needed for learning. The 4,000 square foot space consists of Alphie-a giant talking dragon who “eats” letters, a deli, a fire truck, MTA bus, sand play, giant lite brite, soft space for crawlers and much more than imaginable!

interactive, touch screen, digital, visual, New York History, America History
Interactive screens at New York & The Nation; Photo: courtesy New-York Historical Society

New-York Historical Society

Prepare for information overload at the New York Historical Society. Founded in 1804, it is the oldest museum in New York. Beyond the alluring beauty of the building, historical culture that has influenced the new New York today is presented through valuable collections.

At the current exhibit, “New York & The Nation”, in Robert H. and Clarice Smith’s gallery, you’ll learn the connections New York has with America’s history. All the old dusty stories of the past are explored by interacting with the prominent men during that time on digital screens. Don’t forget to take a look at the artifacts as you explore the ancient times on the slide shows and touch screens throughout the exhibit.

Do not miss the “Threads of Women’s History: Recent Needlework Acquisitions” exhibit that ends May 22, 2016. A powerful exhibit, that tells the story of 18th– and 19th– century women who tell their story of being a daughter of strong, war generals through quilts. Memories of history are shared with us in a unique way.

Which museum has what you’re looking for, and are you planning to go soon?  Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

Posted in manhattan living, NYC Events, Upper West Side |