From a shark's jawbone to musical instruments from around the world, Brooklyn Children's Museum is home to a permanent collection of 30,000 objects. While it is rare for a children's museum to have a permanent collection, the use of artifacts in exhibitions and programming has been central to the Mu... [ + ]seum’s educational mission since its creation in 1899. Over the past century, its collection has continued to grow through generous donations, bequests, and occasional purchases.
The Museum’s collection takes center stage in the new permanent exhibition, Collections Central.
Objects in the gallery change frequently to expose visitors to the collection’s wide range of cultural artifacts (man-made objects, both ancient and modern, including sculptures, masks, and dolls, as well as everyday household and personal items, such as baskets and combs) and natural science specimens (including minerals, fossils, and mounted birds, mammals, and insects).
Interactive displays challenge visitors to explore objects in new ways, such as using only sense of touch to identify a hidden artifact. Children hunt for object details to solve a six-sided photo puzzle and play a specimen matching game, giving clues to help a partner identify the right rock from a group of minerals.
Families get an up-close look at how different artifacts are made and can become involved in the design process themselves. Children pilot a boat, string beads, and create patterns with decorative tiles, all inspired by cultural artifacts from the collection. At drawing stations throughout the exhibition, young artists can sketch favorite objects and share their artwork on the gallery display board.
New role-playing areas invite visitors to step into an object's world. Children pretend to glide down the Amazon behind a protective wooden figurehead from Brazil, called a carranca in Portuguese. An imaginary collector’s “cabinet of wonders” demonstrates how curators research and organize their objects. Visitors become curators and design their own exhibition alongside the collector’s far-out finds—including an 8-foot-tall Asian elephant skeleton!
Infants under 1: Free
Discover who lives in the neighborhood when you visit a freshwater pond, a saltwater beach, an urban woodland, and a community garden.
At the freshwater pond, get a "fish-eye view" when you crawl inside the pond aquarium to watch fish and turtles swim among aquatic plants. Special cameras and lis... [ + ]tening devices let you be field scientists, watching and listening for animals hidden throughout the diorama.
Running near the pond is a stream, which cascades down a series of waterfalls. Along the stream, you can find fish, muskrats, raccoons, and birds—and see how animals interact with and depend on water.
In the community garden, dig, plant, and harvest play plants. Become an environmental DJ by mixing the unique rhythms of man-made and natural outdoor sounds at the a kid-friendly mixing board; or climb inside a hollow log in the urban woodland to get an up-close look at underground organisms and live toads, snakes, and turtles that live in the forest.
With help from Museum educators, you can touch live horseshoe crabs and sea stars at the tide pool in the saltwater beach. Create your own marine animal models and test how they move in the wave pool; or in the sandy dunes, sift for clues to marine life in the area and then check nearby specimen samples to identify what you’ve found.
Nearby, the Greenhouse and outdoor Garden are filled with common and exotic live plants, insects, and animals—see how many you can find!
In the Science Inquiry Center, you can find field guides and other resources for eco-adventures in your own neighborhood, or say "hi" to Fantasia, the Museum's famous, 20-foot-long albino Burmese Python.
Infants under 1: Free
Totally Tots is the Museum's early-learner exhibit—just for children 5 and under (and their grown-ups)—a colorful, whimsical world where kids are in charge!
For those under 18 months, explore the Baby Hub, a vibrant oasis filled with bright colors, playful shapes, and padded structures that provi... [ + ]de a safe place to practice crawling, standing, and taking first steps.
For those older than 18 months, check out Water Wonders, a water-play area anchored by a large pond with toys for pouring, measuring, experimenting, and creating stories. You can also visit the Art Studio with its creative projects, explore music and sound on a multi-level climbing structure housing a host of instruments, and talk with far-away friends on a walkie-talkie tube.
Try digging in the colorful sand, or practice reading under the colorful tent filled with books. Make a skyscraper in the Building Zone, or in the Little Theater try on costumes, step up to the stage, and put on a show.
The exhibit also includes great resources for grown-ups, including the MetLife Parent Junction with articles and tips on local activities, nutrition, literacy, and more.
Infants under 1: Free
A walk around the block becomes a trip around the world in the new World Brooklyn exhibit, because Brooklyn is home to everyone from everywhere!
At the heart of World Brooklyn is a vibrant cityscape—shrunk to a child's scale—lined by a series of kid-sized shops.
In the Stationery Store, you ca... [ + ]n join in Chinese New Year festivities, build a lantern from hong-bao (red envelopes exchanged during the holiday), step inside a traditional lion costume to make it leap and dance, or try your hand at Chinese calligraphy.
Next door, in the Mexican Bakery, you can run a giant mixer, weigh ingredients, shape your own pretend “dough,” or celebrate the traditional Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday.
Stroll down the pint-sized street and stop in at the International Grocery, stocked with products from around the world, including cans of ghee from India, ackee from Jamaica, and candy from Turkey and Poland. Grab you shopping cart and pick up shopping lists for a special meal, such as a kosher Shabbat or a Kwanzaa celebration—or play cashier and ring up your friend's groceries.
In the West African Import Store, you can "shop" for African health and beauty products, groceries, instruments, jewelry, dolls, textiles, masks, and furniture. Create your own adinkra cloth patterns with magnetic stamps, construct slat chairs and pegged stools in the store’s workshop, or try your hand at drumming.
"Fly" over the Caribbean in the Travel Agency or visit a Mas Camp—short for “masquerade”—where you can decorate your own Carnival costumes or try on an elaborate parrot costume worn in a parade.
Make play pizza and serve up spumoni at the Italian Restaurant, or tune up the Vespa scooter parked nearby.
In the Global Beats Theater, you can sell play tickets, applaud from the audience, or perform on stage. Life-size video projections of local performance troupes invite children to dance along to traditional Russian ballet, Irish step dance, Arab debkah, Bangladeshi folk dances, and more.
Infants under 1: Free
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