Liberty Science Center’s New Infinity Climber, Rubik’s Cube and Guitar Exhibit

While I did a more comprehensive review of taking the kids to the Liberty Science Center for a previous post,  I was there recently and wanted to fill you in on some of the changes and new exhibits. The most exciting is the new Infinity Climber, which finished installation a few weeks ago. This “multi-story play space” is suspended 35 feet above the ground. It has 64 petal platforms (they look like lily pads), to climb on, taking you higher and lower. It’s surrounded by a net, which is stiff enough to keep you in, but not so stiff that it hurts.

a infinity climber

The Infinity Climber is the world’s first suspended climbing space of its kind, and can fit 50 adults and children in there at one time. You have to be 42 inches or higher to go in. It’s great for groups to go in together.  Continue reading “Liberty Science Center’s New Infinity Climber, Rubik’s Cube and Guitar Exhibit”

Review: Jeff Koons Retrospective at the Whitney – Should you Bring Kids?

I had one thought when walking up to the Whitney Museum, to see the Jeff Koons’ retrospective. Thank God we were getting in via the corporate sponsor ticket line. That regular line snaked out the building and around the corner, and it was LONG. We only had to wait behind four people who were either members or also worked for corporate sponsors. The lesson here: if you aren’t either category, expect a long line.

The vacuum cleaner room
The vacuum cleaner room

I learned a bit about Jeff Koons during my modern art history college classes, but after going through this four story retrospective, I realized just how little I actually knew. Get the free audio guide (you can listen to parts of it here) or take a tour. The signage is good too, but it’s nice having a little extra information. The retrospective covers 1978 to present, with 150 objects on display.

The inflatables room, with mirrors
The inflatables room, with mirrors

The exhibit is broken up into sections based on his genre of work/time period. They were all quite different and diverse, and the way they organized it provides an excellent way to see his progression of art and what concepts he worked with at that time. The first section (The New) was the vacuum cleaner one – first picture on top. He was exploring the interaction between the viewer and the object, using only new vacuum cleaners that had the added anthropomorphic ability to express life/death, male/female (phallic bag/womb of suckage) etc. Not such an interesting gallery for us, I’ll say. Continue reading “Review: Jeff Koons Retrospective at the Whitney – Should you Bring Kids?”

Review: The Art of the Brick – LEGO at Discovery Times Square

While not an exhibit intended specifically for kids, The Art of the Brick definitely appeals to kids. And to adults too. The positive message extolling the virtues of art, and Nathan Sawaya’s optimism, “art can be anything” brings a fresh air to the exhibit. You can even be a successful artist like Sawaya, after going to law school and doing corporate mergers for several years. My son now wants to be a LEGO artist. Well, he did before too, but now he wants to even more.

See below for discount ticket information for the Art of the Brick.

Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

The sign when you enter is probably the only thing in the exhibit NOT made of LEGOs (okay, the signs and tables aren’t LEGO either). Room after room continues to delight and surprise.

Opening the exhibit was the Paint by Bricks section Continue reading “Review: The Art of the Brick – LEGO at Discovery Times Square”

Review: Body Worlds: Pulse – Good for Kids?

If you’re unsure whether to bring your kids to Body Worlds: Pulse at Discovery Times Square, look at the pictures below. If you think they can handle these pictures, then go (more details below). This is the second “body” exhibition I’ve taken my kids to. The last one was probably in 2007 or 2008 when my kids were much younger. They still remember it, especially seeing the black lung from smoking. That had an impact on them.

If you’re not familiar with the Body Worlds world, there is a lot of history behind it. Briefly, these people donated their bodies for plastination (controversial), the technique used here to preserve the body in various shapes. I’ll go into the process in more depth later. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the Bodies exhibitions, ranging from whether people indeed DID donate their bodies, to the ethics of displaying bodies this way, to religious complaints, to the sale of plastinated organs and bodies. You can read more here – it’s quite interesting.

You’ll start out with a video which I found stressful. It talked about stress and the pace of life these days. The video was captivating (and frenetic) in that it was made with drawings of people and things that were done during the video (but sped up). For the first time in history there are more people that are over age 60, than under age 5. The show uses the plastinated bodies and organs to talk about health, how the body shows its health, how to stay healthy, focusing on areas like happiness, blood pressure, exercise, stress and food. And it shows how the body works.

Not comfortable in his own skin. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Not comfortable in his own skin. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

The first display was a bit shocking. Continue reading “Review: Body Worlds: Pulse – Good for Kids?”

Review: Shipwreck: Pirates and Treasures – Good for Kids? Discovery Times Square NYC

If you perk up when you hear about divers finding sunken wrecks full of precious metals, Shipwreck: Pirates and Treasure exhibit at Discovery Times Square would be a good one for you.

Learn about pirates and deep sea exploration at Shipwreck. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Learn about pirates and deep sea exploration at Shipwreck. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Groupon has discounted tickets as I post this, but act quickly. If you’re new to Groupon, get the tickets here. If you’re already a Groupon user, get the tickets here. Search under Long Island, NY in the search bar on top for “Shipwreck.” Tickets on Groupon are $12-15 (kid/adult), which is a savings. Read the Groupon fine print before buying.

As you might imagine, treasure seeking is a high tech affair. The exhibit focuses on finds from Odyssey Marine Exploration, a deep ocean exploration public company (NasdaqCM: OMEX) that salvages items from shipwrecks and does mineral exploration. They choose from the 6,500 shipwrecks in their database, evaluating them based on archeological importance, claims to the property, and other factors.

WHAT YOU’LL SEE Continue reading “Review: Shipwreck: Pirates and Treasures – Good for Kids? Discovery Times Square NYC”

Review: Pole Position Raceway Birthday Party

We won a Jersey City Pole Position birthday party at a silent auction (we were the high bidder!), and told our son that was his party the next year. It was the best birthday party ever. Fortunately only one of the kids had gone before, so it was a new experience for almost everyone.

Overview of the Pole Position Raceway in Jersey City. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Overview of the Pole Position Raceway in Jersey City. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

The carts are electric. While the room is loud, it’s apparently quieter than if they use gas (and it smells better too).

They have party rooms overlooking the raceway on two sides of the building at Pole Position Raceway. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
They have party rooms overlooking the raceway on two sides of the building at Pole Position Raceway. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Unfortunately we arrived late to our own party. Continue reading “Review: Pole Position Raceway Birthday Party”

Review: Whales: Giants of the Deep Exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History

Did you know that dolphins and porpoises are whales? We learned that, plus many other interesting facts about whales during our visit to the American Museum of Natural History’s exhibit Whales: Giants of the Deep. Admittedly I knew very little about whales before going to this exhibit. I didn’t know that the precursors to whales WALKED, losing their legs eventually as they took to the ocean full time. A simulation video of the whale’s evolution is a good visual representation. Learn more about whale evolution here.

Did you know that whales can be broken up into two categories: toothed whales and baleen whales? Toothed whales are smaller, and include dolphins and porpoises (porpoises don’t have beaks, dolphins do). Baleen whales are filter feeders, taking in larger amounts of small food and filtering it out, where as toothed whales go for single prey, swallowing it whole.

In addition to videos and other displays, the exhibit features Continue reading “Review: Whales: Giants of the Deep Exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History”

Review: Big Apple Circus – Legendarium

This was my first time at the Big Apple Circus, having been to many other circuses. What I loved most about it was its size. It was an intimate circus, without extraneous characters running around. Everyone counted and the show was high quality.

The ring before the show started. The middle has a listing of the performers. The live band is above the entrance in the lit-up area. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
The ring before the show started. The middle has a listing of the performers. The live band is above the entrance in the lit-up area. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

I brought three 11 year old girls to the show and they loved it, as did the younger kids sitting around us. With only 16 rows of seats (about 1,700 total guests), you’ll have a good view no matter where you sit. I’ll tell the story mostly through photos. Continue reading “Review: Big Apple Circus – Legendarium”

Review: Spy Exhibition with Kids – Discovery Times Square

We were recently at the International Spy Museum in Washington DC. There are more spies in DC than anywhere else. But apparently there are a fair amount in the NYC area as well (not that that’s a surprise). We weren’t sure how it would compare to the recently opened Spy: the Secret World of Espionage at Discovery Times Square.

What is spying? Basically it’s trying to gain the upper hand and know what your adversary is going to do before they do it. It’s attaining information you’re not supposed to have, to ensure your security. And it’s widespread. It doesn’t have to be obtained illegally – spies get their information from internet sites and blogs (my kids laughed at that one), as well as classified documents. Continue reading “Review: Spy Exhibition with Kids – Discovery Times Square”

Three Museums not to miss in Washington D.C.

This is part of a series on Washington D.C. with kids. Most of the attractions in Washington D.C. are free, making a trip like this much less expensive than trips elsewhere (after factoring in hotel costs!). Here are three free museums you shouldn’t miss (Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the National American History Museum and the Postal Museum):

Bureau of Engraving & Printing

During the tour, you’ll walk above the printing floor, watching the workers. They have a sense of humor, posting signs like “tomorrow only: free samples” and “just think how I feel – I printed my lifetime salary in a few minutes.” You’ll see the printers (which we saw getting jammed), sheets of bills then getting cut and trimmed, computers that inspected the currency (at ½ second per sheet), carousels/trays of money moving through the packaging process, $400,000 bricks of money (and $100 billion in one room alone). The exhibit before the tour is interesting as well, with the history of the bills and printing.

Continue reading “Three Museums not to miss in Washington D.C.”