Indoor Fun - Museums
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Indoor Fun - Museums

Posted by: NJ Kids Team - January 02, 2015

Museums

Ready to get out of the house?  Why not visit a museum – it’s a great way to spend a cold winter day, and best of all, they are both fun and educational! Here in New Jersey and the tri-state area, there are endless museums to choose from – no matter what your family is interested in, there is a museum for you!  Choose from an art museum, science center, interactive, hand-on children’s museum or an air, space and sea museum.  

Newark Museum

Don’t be scared off by the large art collection at the Newark Museum (including African, Asian, American, and Classical art).  We think it’s never too early to introduce kids to such “cultured” exhibits – and, luckily, just when the kids start getting a little fidgety, the museum also has a great science section, a sculpture garden and a planetarium.  Every Saturday and Sunday, there is also a drop in workshop, plus the museum often hosts special events.  Special January Event: On Monday, January 20th, the museum will be open to celebrate Martin Luther King’s Day from 12:00-4:00 pmthe day will be filled with activities for the entire family. Newark Museum (40 Washington Street, Newark, newarkmuseum.org)

Liberty Science Center

You can spend the entire day at the Liberty Science Center – and still not see and do everything!  There are three themed floors at this interactive, hands on museum: Environment, Health and Invention, plus changing exhibits ranging from Gridiron Glory (it’s all things football), Bob the Builder (kids can create, build and fix it), and Eat or Be Eaten (learn about how animals catch their food).  There’s also an IMAX theater, and a 3D theater, showing a variety of science related movies.   Special January Event: On January 20th, come meet Former Jet player, Randy Beverly.  Liberty Science Center (222 Jersey City Boulevard, Jersey City, lsc.org).

Morris Museum

The Morris Museum is one of those gloriously manageable museums – large enough that there’s always something new and interesting to see, but small enough that kids won’t get overwhelmed.  And best of all, it’s got some really neat exhibits, including Mechanical Instruments and Automata (self-winding machines), Rocks and Minerals, Costumes, and Mammals.  There are also changing exhibits, and right now, they are showing the art of Nathan Sawaya – a master brick artist who has taken the Lego to another level. Morris Museum (6 Normandy Heights Rd, Morristown, morrismuseum.org)

American Museum of Natural History

There is no way you can possibly cover this entire museum in a single day, so don’t even try!  Pick one of your favorites – and there is an exhibit for everyone – and start exploring.  The dinosaur rooms are world famous and the kids will love standing so close to these large, extinct creatures. Then there are the whales, mammals, the planetarium – and so much more!   Save time to catch an IMAX movie, and there are several changing exhibits (not included in the admission price) including the Butterfly Conservatory and the Power of Poison.  Special January Event: Live Wolf Encounter – on January 11th, come meet Atka, an artic gray wolf from the Wolf Conservation Center, and learn about all things wolves.  Tickets required. American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West and 79th Street, NYC, amnh.org)

New Jersey State Museum

OK, you might think the kids are going to complain that they don’t want to visit a museum dedicated to the history of NJ – but the NJ State Museum really does have some great exhibits that are sure to interest the entire family!  There are the art and archeological exhibits, but there are also exhibitis on cultural history of NJ and a planetarium. NJ State Museum (http://www.state.nj.us/state/museum/)

Also in Trenton, why not cap off your NJ history tour with a visit to the State House  - guided tours are available and generally visit the Senate and Assembly chambers, party conference rooms, the rotunda and the Govenor’s Office reception room.  Advance tickets required. State House http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/legislativepub/visiting_guided.asp)

The Penn Museum

Formally known as the University of Penn Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, the Penn Museum has an extensive collection of both archeological artifacts collected via excavation and ethnology – artifacts collected from living people.  The Egyptian and Mummy rooms are always big with the kids – but don’t let them get scared off by some of the other exhibits.  It’s hard not to be fascinated by the art of far off countries.  The museum also offers special family programs, including on January 25th when they are hosting a daylong extravaganza celebrating the Chinese New Year. Penn Museum (3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA, www.penn.museum)

Visual Arts Center of NJ

If you are looking for a small museum to introduce the world of art to your kids, the Visual Art Center is a good place to start.  There are really only two galleries, and they showcase changing exhibits. On January 17th, two new exhibits are opening, highlighting the work of various women artists. The Visual Arts Center also offers classes for kids to adults.  Visual Arts Center of NJ (68 Elm Street, Summit, artcenternj.org)

Princeton University of Art

What’s great about visiting this art museum is that you can download a family guide before you go – the guides include facts and activities on Africa, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Japan, Medieval Europe, Nineteen Century France, China and Mesoamerica.   It’s a fun way to learn – the guides engage the children in a sort of scavenger hunt as they learn about the artwork. Princeton University of Art (www.artmuseuem.princeton.edu)

Garden State Discovery Museum

Looking for hands-on fun for the younger set?  The Garden State Discovery Museum is the place to go! Geared to infants to age 10, there are more than a dozen rooms filled with interactive adventures, including a newsroom, a dinosarium, a market, diner and more.   Garden State Discovery Museum (2040 Springdale Rd, Cherry Hill, www.discoverymuseum.com)

Franklin Institute Science Museum

Where else can kids walk through a giant heart, visit a space research station, learn about air travel, study electricity – and so much more!  There are tons of hands on (and educational) exhibits at the Franklin Institute, and in addition, museum hosts two special events monthly: every second Thursday is the ‘Night Skies in the Observatory’ – the observatory is opened late, and the event includes a lecture (appropriate for 8 and up) and planetarium show and a chance to peer through five different telescopes.  Every third Wednesday is target Community Night, when everyone is welcome to enjoy the museums exhibits and special program and themed activities.  Free admission, but registration is required. The Franklin Institute Science Museum (www2.fi.edu)

Imagine That!

This is another great interactive, hands-on museum for younger children.  They can pretend the day away, in the vets office, music room, art and crafts room, and post office, and that’s just the beginning.  All the kids need to do is bring their imagination and let the adventures begin!  Imagine That! (4 Vreeland, Florham Park, www.imaginethatmuseum.com)

More Children Museums

If you are looking for even more hands-on fun for the kids, there is also the

Bucks County Children’s Museum in New Hope, PA (www.buckskid.org), the Children’s Museum of Manhattan in NYC (www.cmom.org), the New Jersey Children’s Museum in Paramus (www.njcm.com) the Children’s Museum of Somerset County in Bridgewater (www.childrensmuseumnj,org), Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia (www.pleasetouchmuseum.org)

Sea, Air and Space Museums

It’s hard not to be fascinated by machines that fly, soar and float and submerge – and thankfully, there are a lot of opportunities to get a good look at planes, ships and space vehicles.  Airplane enthusiasts can check out the planes and helicopters at Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum at Teterboro Airport or the Naval Air Station wildwood Aviation Museum at the Cape May Airport, while if you have a helicopter lover in the family, head to the American Helicopter Museum in West Chester, PA

And for a fascinating look at American’s sea, air, and space history – there is no museum like The Intrepid.   Granted, some of the exhibits are outside, but there is still plenty located inside on this massive aircraft carrier.

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Posted by: NJ Kids Team| January 02, 2015
Categories:  Fun Things To Do|Travel
Subcategories:  Day Trips
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