Review: The Balloon Museum With Kids in NYC

The Balloon Museum arrived in New York City in late October 2023 and will be in Manhattan at least through mid-January 2024. We went to check out the Balloon Museum With Kids in NYC so you can decide if you want to go too.

The Balloon Museum is on South Street near the Manhattan Bridge. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

While the name is Balloon Museum, it might be more appropriate to say “Inflatables Exhibit that is Instagram-friendly,” but that does not have the same ring to it. When I think of balloons, I think of fragile airy floating things that are ready to pop, and most of the balloons in the exhibit seem more sturdy. Granted, they should be since you can touch many of them. And some are just balloon-shaped or balloon-inspired.

The first installation at the Balloon Museum is outside. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

If you’re going to the Balloon Museum with kids in NYC, you’ll find it at Pier 36, which is on the water (duh!) north of the Manhattan Bridge. It’s on South Street at Montgomery. You’ll start outside in the D.R.E.A.M.S. exhibit resembling igloos, by Camilla Falsini. Be careful leaning against the non-igloo balloons – they’re not very sturdy and you may almost fall over. Not that it happened to us, ahem.

At the Balloon Museum, they let people into the building every 15 minutes. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

You enter the building in 15 minute blocks, with colorful waiting areas showing you when the next group will go in. It’s here you’ll present your ticket, so don’t lose it. Just inside they’ll give you a pair of booties. Note that there are not very many chairs to sit on, so either help your friends/family member, or plop down on the ground.

You’ll need to put on booties for the first half of the exhibits at the Balloon Museum. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

The Balloon Museum is in an 80,000 square foot warehouse-type building. It’s a series of 18 installations created by different artists. You can try to read about the artists while you’re there, but mostly the lines keep moving and it can be hard to stop and read the signs. I recommend reading about the Balloon Museum artists and installations after you go (so as not to ruin the surprises), as they have information online.

This is the first of the massive installations at the Balloon Museum. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

After going through a mirrored tunnel with balloon designs (not that exciting), you’ll get to Spiritus Sonata, which WAS exciting. It’s a huge installation with changing lights and music. The outside looks different than the inside (there’s a circle you’ll walk into) and it’s really something to see.

Spiritus Sonata at the Balloon Museum. Copyright by Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Spiritus Sonata can be translated to “breath” and “musical composition,” which seems appropriate. You’ll notice “noses” which breathe and make noise as the balloons remain inflated.

I called these the watermelon creatures at the Balloon Museum. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

You can touch most of the installations at the Balloon Museum, which is great for kids – and adults. The GINJOS, below, are different size punching bags, for lack of a better word, with fluorescent wall paper. There is also some smoke rising from the floor.

You can climb on or push these GINJOS around kind of like soft punching bags. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Next you’ll get in line for Hyperstellar and you won’t know why you’re waiting, but you’ll hear some loud music. Hyperstellar is the 4,000 square foot ball pit (not football pit, but square foot, ball pit). You’ll go in as a group, which means you may be waiting in the hallway for 15 minutes (or longer – it felt like forever). The good news is that you do get to spend a fair amount of time in there and it’s large enough you can move around and not feel cramped. It’s one of the few places there we felt we could actually breathe and have some space.

The ball pit, also known as Hyperstellar, is one of the highlights at the Balloon Museum. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Granted, once you’re in the ball pit, it is hard to move! It really was hard. They recommend not bringing loose items in there – a good admonition. You can leave things on what looked like a pool deck, and it felt safe, as everyone is doing their own thing (granted, you always need to pay attention, but still). You’ll be in there for a sound and light show, which can be kind of loud and jarring, so if your little ones tend to get scared, maybe warn them and stay close.

Hyperstellar video at the Balloon Museum. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

It looks like you can jump in, and you can…but know that it’s maybe 3 feet deep, so you don’t want to hurt yourself. Granted, it’s hard to get through the balls, but be careful. They have some ladders to help you get out. Be careful when walking out as the balls escape from the pit and you are wearing those booties, which are slippery.

The lights and music were always changing in Hyperstellar. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

The next exhibit was called Zeros, and these giant chocolate doughnuts or tires, or whatever you think they are, move up and down like an undulating snake. There are 10 of them and if you’re unlucky, a jerk will plunk himself right in front to get a photo for 5 minutes and not move. So if this happens to you, go to the other side, where no one will be looking (my view below). It was a really cool exhibit. This is one I don’t think you’re supposed to touch, at least based on the barriers. Granted, they don’t want you to get crushed by the balloons as they move up and down.

These balloons, in the Zeros exhibit, reminded me of big tires. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

I think I’m out of order here, but that’s okay. Balloon Tree is below, and there are a series of maybe 10 boxes you can go into for photos. All have some kind of balloon theme. There were long lines (I needed the bathroom) so we did not get any ourselves. There’s also a giant balloon silver octopus in the room, which was awesome.

The Balloon Tree, and other Insta boxes, were cute. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

The ADA room below ncludes a giant ball with charcoal in the nozzles. People move it around the room (it was all kids when we were in there) and when it touches the ceiling and walls, it makes marks. Art! They have an area to clean your hands when you get out.

The ADA room will leave your hands blackened if you touch anything. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

This room below, BB, includes 50 silver balloons and a lot of mirrors. We got lucky and for a moment, we had it to ourselves. I didn’t include that picture, but it was cool to see it with no one else in it.

The BB room of mirrors. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

One of my other favorite installations was Airscape (Lava Lamp is the balloon on the ceiling), with VR headsets. You go through a balloon world for a few minutes. It was well done and we loved that experience.

Lava Lamp and Airscape (VR) is the last installation. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

If you are a germaphobe (no judgment!) bring hand sanitizer and/or wipes. There is a lot of touching in there, and you may want to wipe your hands often. The VR headsets are not wiped down in between uses and those go on your face. The balls in the ballpit apparently do get cleaned, but how often? How well?

This is what they say about cleaning the balls: “By means of three special machines that clean and disinfect all the balls. The EF-WB01 ball cleaner is an intelligent all-in-one automatic cleaning machine with ball suction, washing, UV disinfection and towel that allows the balls to be used after cleaning without having to wait.”

From New York City, the Balloon Museum will then go to Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco.

I don’t remember the name of this exhibit, but I got a nice view of the sleeping giants, yes? Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

If you go to the Balloon Museum With Kids in NYC

Where: The Balloon Museum in NYC is at 299 South Street (at Montgomery) – at Pier 36 in Manhattan. It’s just north of the Manhattan Bridge.

How much time will you spend at the Balloon Museum with kids in NYC? The museum recommends about 90 minutes. We only spent an hour there, because my husband was claustrophobic and it was way too crowded. But you could go through the rooms more slowly and also stop and take more pictures (and play outside) and I can easily see spending more time there.

Parking at the Balloon Museum NYC: They have a small lot on site, but there was a line to get in when we went. You might get lucky and find street parking.

It’s shocking, you can buy balloon flowers upstairs near the restroom and snack bar. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Coat/bag/stroller check: Outside you can check your coats, bags and strollers for free (though the website says no stroller parking, you’ll see in the first picture there is). We saw a lot of people walking around with coats, and that made no sense. There is one exhibit outside, so if you think you’ll be spending a lot of time out there (and it’s cold), then keep your coats. You can see it from the outside, which can help you decide. Otherwise, check them. They don’t let big bags in and you don’t want to walk around with them anyway. If you don’t need the stroller, leave it there.

Bathrooms: They have a bathroom inside, but it is most of the way through the one-way route and then up the stairs. I know this because I needed to go before we even got inside and had to wait until then. I did not see a restroom outside (I should have asked – maybe there is one).

Tickets: On Tuesday-Friday, tickets to the Balloon Museum with kids in NYC are $45 for those 16+, $35 for ages 3-15 and free under age 3. You can get a family pack (2 adults, 2 children) for $150. On weekends and holidays, tickets are $59 for ages 16+, $49 for ages 3-15, and a family pack is $200. Note that there are fees and tax on top of this. Add another $7.50-$9 per adult ticket, $6-$7.75 for kids and $6.50-$8 for family pack.

Discount tickets for The Balloon Museum: Use code 30OFF for 30% off on weekdays.