The Metropolitan Museum of Art is so big, you won’t see it in one trip. So don’t try. Here are 4 ways to explore the Met with your kids.
THROW A DART
On our first visit, we gave the kids the regular map and told them to pick two things they each wanted to see. And then we had them lead the way. The kids picked the Temple of Dendur and the Egyptian wing, the instrument room, the swords and armor, and I can’t even remember the fourth. We had a fabulous time exploring…until Zachary had a melt-down at the end, in the instrument room. He was tired. He was hungry. It was time to go. We were there almost two hours, and considered that visit highly successful.
The next trip was with Alison Lowenstein, author of City Kid New York: the Ultimate Guide for NYC Parents with Kids ages 4-12 (plus she’s the author of City Weekends: Greatest Escapes and Weekend Getaways in and Around New York). She’s a pro at visiting the Met with kids. For this visit, Alison led us to the lower level, where the (free with admission) tours and programs for kids are held. We did an Art Trek, where the Met guide took us to several works of art, and discussed them a kid’s level. At the end, they got to draw one of the pieces. The program lasts an hour, and is for kids ages 5-12 (they divide them into age-appropriate groups). The kids liked the program, though that guide didn’t leave enough drawing time for them at the end.
The Met offers hundreds of family programs each year, including drop-in drawing sessions, festivals, the “Discoveries” program for learning-disabled and developmentally disabled kids, holiday programs (including select Mondays), story times and more.
SELF-GUIDED WITH A THEME
A little planning before you go to the Met goes a long way. The Met makes it easy – they have a HUGE amount of information available on their Kids page.
Download a map (they have kids’ maps – and the center is like a Where’s Waldo of the Met) or a thematic guide before you go – or ask for them when you get there. You can also download family guides, everything from drawing imaginary creatures to the inspiration for Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
They also have Q&A guides covering facts about the museum like these:
–68% of the Met’s visitors come from outside NYC.
–The museum sells 1.5 million postcards a year.
–Of the mummy cases on display, 13 contain actual bodies )
–2,500 people work in the museum (938 are volunteers)
And for those (like us) who have read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, get the author’s inside take on how she thought up the story. Plus a guide of what Jamie and Claudia saw, where they hid their things, and where you can find these treasures. them. And Michaelangelo’s Angel sculpture? Find out more in the guide.
Try a phone-based scavenger hunt from New York: The Game. Highlighting six different exhibit areas, you’ll decipher hieroglyphics and more as you make your way through the museum.
–The museum is generally closed on Mondays.
–It’s open until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays. The Met has a bar and live classical music then (if it’s date night for you).
–The Met has several restaurants and a cafeteria if you or the kids are hungry
–Strollers are allowed in the galleries.
–No flash photography allowed.
–Check your backpack and packages at coat check (it’s free).
–Admission fee includes same-day admission to the Cloisters in Northern Manhattan, if you’re game for two museums in one day
–If you don’t want to wait in the ticket line, you can get tickets in advance online.
–Recommended admission for adults is $20. Kids 12 and under get in free.
–If you’re a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch customer, you can get in free on the first weekend of each month. Bring your card to the information desk (not the ticket window) and they’ll give you one ticket for each bank card.
–You can use the CityPass, New York Pass or New York Explorer Pass for admission to the Met.