Children’s Museum of Manhattan

Edification value 2/5
Entertainment value 2/5
Should you go? 2/5
Time spent 126 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned This multilayered architectural image that, if you look closely, it turns out incorporate TIE fighters into it. I know nothing about it — there was no wall text and I neglected to ask any of the staff who did it. But I liked it! 

Children's Museum of Manhattan

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan was founded in 1973, and makes its home in the former Holy Trinity Parochial School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. I mostly make fun of museum acronym-based nicknames, but I kind of like “CMOM.” I just wish I liked the museum as much as its motherly acronym.

Children's Museum of Manhattan Exterior

CMOM is an odd mishmash of different things. If there’s a curatorial or organizational idea behind it, they keep it well hidden. Moreover, it’s not really clear from my visit there who the ideal visitor is. Well, I suppose the ideal visitors are harried New York parents who will pay anything to give their kids something to keep them occupied for a couple of hours. 

What’s on at CMOM

The museum currently hosts 7 exhibits spread across its 5 floors. A couple of floors are meant for specific ages, but most of the exhibits seem simultaneously too simple for older kids and too dense for younger ones. Is this for budding science nerds? Artsy kids? CMOM tries to be something for everyone, which I think is a mistake.

For instance, take “It’s About Time.” Here’s a bit of this small installation.

Children's Museum of Manhattan
Watch This?

Who’s likely to find this interesting? Besides the Bulova Watch Company, which is lauded by name (“Bulova: A Timely New York Story”) and not incidentally provided financial support for the installation. Too much wall text for a little kid; there’s some interactivity in the installation, but, why? I love a good anachronism as much as the next guy, but clockwork clocks and watches are not the most interesting or relevant technologies for a kid-oriented museum to showcase.

Tough to Digest

Super SprowtzThen there’s the Super Sprowtz, a short-lived effort from 7 years ago to use puppet vegetables to teach kids about nutrition. Though, evidently, not spelling. It still exists on YouTube, and at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, but just about nowhere else. Gita Garlic is pretty cool, I’ll grant that (that’s Sammy Spinach to the left). But overall, it speaks to a place that has no clear sense of what kids like or how they think.

To be sure, there’s a lot to do here: a fake intestine kids can climb in (not as gross as it sounds), and the very well named “Royal Flush,” a giant toilet that teaches kids about poop (very much as gross as it sounds). 

Children's Museum of Manhattan - Royal Flush

Sleep and MoodBut then there’s this about sleep and sleep deprivation. I know I’ve asked before, but I’m compelled to ask again, who is likely to find this fun or interesting?

 

Brought to You By…

Another thing that disappointed me about CMOM was the degree to which exhibits are sponsored — like the Bulova Watch installation I mentioned previously. And not just in a subtle “brought to you by the letters J and L and by the number 3” way.

Here we have Nickelodeon bringing you the Dora and Diego explorer zone. It makes the Children’s Museum of Manhattan feel more like edutainment than education. Not that that’s bad, but I’m concerned about priorities, and it adds to the generally hodge-podge feel of the place.

Children's Museum of Manhattan - Diego

Oversized Playmobil characters in various professional guises lurk in the stairwell, giving the weird Lego knockoffs some product placement. CMOM is apparently very fine with that, but it bugged me. It doesn’t add anything — except possibly to make Playmobil less uncool in the eyes of visitors. And even that seems unlikely.

Bring Purell. Oceans of Purell

The other phrase I’d use to describe the feel of this institution is “slightly sticky.” Kids, man. They are gross creatures, and CMOM gets more little grubby munchkins visiting it than the place is equipped to clean up after. I am in no way a germophobe, and I visited well before the covid-19 outbreak (it’s taken me a while to sit down and write this post). However, I found myself wishing I’d brought a bottle of Purell with me when I visited, and I was thankful whenever I found a dispenser of the stuff.

The Art Center

By far my favorite bit of CMOM was the large space on the main floor devoted to art. It just hit me, this must have been the gym when this place was a school. Poetic justice to take the jock space and turn it over to the art kids. Anyway, CMOM has an artist-in-residence program, including some pieces on display and a bunch of hands-on art activities available. The day I visited, kids had a choice of collaging, textile art, and animation using the Play-Doh TOUCH app (but alas, no Play-Doh).

Art Center at CMOM

That said, New York boasts specialist institutions that do this better and more comprehensively than the Children’s Museum of Manhattan does. The Children’s Museum of the Arts in Tribeca and the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling are both more creative, and less crowded, than this. 

Should You Take the Kids to CMOM?

The big thing CMOM has going for it is convenience. It’s smack on the Upper West Side. And its size makes it much easier to navigate than the nearby American Museum of Natural History. But I found it disappointing; it could and should be much better than it is. It’s confusing, it sells out readily to corporate sponsors, its exhibits seemed surprisingly out-of-date and (giant toilet notwithstanding) not terribly compelling to a young audience.

There’s fun to be had here, but there are many better kid-oriented museums in this city — I’d encourage parents to have the intestinal fortitude to seek them out.

Children's Museum of Manhattan
Intestinal Fortitude

For Reference:

Address 212 West 83rd Street, Manhattan
Website cmom.org
Cost  General Admission:  $15 (kids are also $15)
Other Relevant Links

 

Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling

Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art and Storytelling
Edification value 3/5
Entertainment value 4/5
Should you go? 3/5
Time spent 79 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned Yuken Teruya’s complex, captivating, thought-provoking constructions made from and contained within shopping bags. My very favorite were “Constellation,” a series of intricate night skies — a universe in a discarded Barney’s bag.

Even before you get to it, the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling makes a strong and unexpected impression. It occupies an airy, light-filled, below-ground space in a distinctive building — an utterly modern, 2014 low-income apartment house that looks like anything but low-income housing. The building was designed by Sir David Adjaye, who also designed Washington, DC’s National Museum of African American History.

Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art and Storytelling

The Sugar Hill Museum, which refreshingly does not have a “SHCMo…” acronym, was a key programmatic element of the building, along with a preschool and a community art gallery.

The place knows its audience. I appreciated its kid’s-eye-level sign that explains not a list of “don’ts,” but “rules for being cool” while visiting.  I don’t know if that works, but I appreciate the gesture.

Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art and Storytelling

 

Art To Make

Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art and StorytellingThe Sugar Hill Museum, knowing its audience, splits its programming very evenly between art to look at (in several gallery spaces and a studio) and art to make in a main multipurpose space and what I’ll call a sort of art lab.  There’s blocks to stack, a wall you can paint (with water — it’s kind of fun to watch your graffiti disappear slowly as it dries), leaves to color and other things to make.

Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art and Storytelling

The museum also has an artist-in-residence program.  Currently the artist is Damian Davis, who makes layered collages bolted together out of shapes cut from plastic. Playing off his work, a group activity during my visit involved letting young visitors assemble their own layered creations with a variety of precut shapes, in soft foam. It was clever, and when we visited Mr. Davis in the studio the kids I was with were excited to talk with him about their creations.

Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art and Storytelling

Art to See

Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art and Storytelling
Fernando Tamburini, “The Flying Town,” 2016

The first piece of art a visitor sees at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling is a charming array of floating houses that animates the light well that makes the subterranean space feel, well, above ground.

In addition to the artist-in-residence’s studio, two rooms hold temporary exhibitions. The museum curates those to reflect themes of the neighborhood, as well as subject matter suited to the target audience. When I visited one gallery hosted the works of Faith Ringgold, an activist, but also a children’s book author and illustrator. Her work does a great job of raising issues of cultural and political history in a kid-friendly way. 

Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art and Storytelling
Faith Ringgold at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum

The other gallery, a narrow space well suited to small shows and short attention spans, is where the museum showed Yuken Teruya’s work. Obsessively, beautifully cut and folded trees made from paper bags comment eloquently on consumerism and the environment, while being beautiful at the same time. The kids I was with were as fascinated by these pieces as I was.

Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art and Storytelling
Yuken Teruya at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum

Should You Visit the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling?

The Sugar Hill Museum designs its programming primarily for children ages 3-8. But I think even a slightly older kid, if they like art, would enjoy it, at least for a while. It’s not overwhelming, which is great. You can go, spend an hour or two, make something neat, see some art, talk to an artist, hear a fortuitous jazz concert, and be done.

It’s an unexpected space, in a noteworthy building. And the curators do a good job keeping grown-ups engaged along with the young ones.

Most importantly, I think the museum is — rarity in today’s New York — something of a hidden gem as well. My borrowed kids and their mom and I went for the museum’s free third-Sunday day and yet while there were a healthy number of kids and caregivers there, it was not at all overrun.

Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art and Storytelling
Unexpected Jazz Concert

I came away completely impressed at how well the museum executes its mandate. It could just be a smaller clone of the Children’s Museum of the Arts, but instead it’s distinctive, vibrant, and really, just a lovely, welcoming space in which to see and create art.  I recommend it for anyone with kids.

For Reference:

Address 898 St. Nicholas Avenue (at 155th Street), Manhattan
Website sugarhillmuseum.org
Cost  General Admission:  $7
Other Relevant Links

 

Staten Island Children’s Museum

Edification value 3/5
Entertainment value 4/5
Should you go? 3/5
Time spent 108 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned Staten Island Children's Museum

I didn’t spend much time there, but I loved Block Harbor, which combines a nautical theme with tons of blocks of all sizes and materials.

It’s taking me ages to review my last few museums. They’re mostly the children’s museums and scheduling visits with my friends with kids has proven tricky. So I was insanely pleased when I talked a good friend into taking her two kids to Staten Island with me on a gray Sunday afternoon.

The Staten Island Children’s Museum is a denizen of Snug Harbor, the former retirement home for old sailors that today serves as the borough’s convenient one-stop shop for cultural institutions, housing among other things:

Staten Island Children's Museum

Continue reading “Staten Island Children’s Museum”

American Museum of Natural History

Edification value  
Entertainment value  4/5
Should you go?  
Time spent 168 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned Who am I kidding.  I’m pondering, “What’s my favorite thing at AMNH?” when there’s no way I would pick anything besides the dinosaurs.  Triceratops was my favorite as a kid. Undoubtedly were I cooler I would’ve picked a carnivore.  But whatever.  Triceratops it is.

American Museum of Natural History, New York

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has this to say about space. 

‘Space,’ it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. I mean you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space.

I quote that not because the American Museum of Natural History is home to the Hayden Planetarium, a great place to learn about space.  Although it is. Instead I quote it because at 111,000 square meters (1.2 million square feet), the American Museum of Natural History is big.  Really big.  You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is.

American Museum of Natural History, New York
Hayden Planetarium

And yet, whereas space is mostly utterly empty, so empty that stars and galaxies and planets and museums and all lesser matter is basically a rounding error on the emptiness of the vacuum, the American Museum of Natural History is almost always totally full.  Of kids and harried parents.

Mindbogglingly full.  All sucked in by the vast gravity of its impressive, unparalleled displays of taxidermied animals, dinosaur fossils, the wonders of space, gems, minerals and meteorites, artifacts and every other thing scientific-type people have sorted, classified and analyzed over the past century and change. Continue reading “American Museum of Natural History”

National Museum of Mathematics

Edification value  4/5
Entertainment value  4/5
Should you go?  3/5
Time spent 137 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned The Museum of Math puts model racing cars on a Möbius strip track and lets kids drive them round and round.

National Museum of Mathematics - MoMath - New York
Möbius racing car track

The depiction and the accompanying explanation of how one-sided shapes work are rich and complex, and epitomize the museum’s approach to learning.

The National Museum of Mathematics (or, inevitably, MoMath, sigh), occupies two floors of a deep, somewhat narrow storefront on the northern border of Madison Square Park.  You know you’ve reached the right place because the door handles form a red letter π.

Automated vending machines dispense unique, reusable tags for visitors to wear.  There’s a lot they could do to customize the visitor’s experience based on the tags.  Possibly the things generate a useful datastream showing visitors’ paths through the museum and the exhibits they try or skip.  I hope they do, at least; I didn’t see much in the way of visitor-facing uses of them.  In which case why not use a traditional sticker or little metal badge? Continue reading “National Museum of Mathematics”

FDNY Fire Zone

 

Edification value  2/5
Entertainment value  2/5
Should you go?  *
Time spent 77 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned
FDNY Fire Zone
Keep Back 200 Feet

These toddler-sized fire-engine-red longjohns, with “keep back 200 ft.” on the rear.  Sound advice!

FDNY Fire ZoneTucked into Rockefeller Center, the Fire Department maintains a small kid-oriented presence called the FDNY Fire Zone.  The Fire Zone consists of a modest-sized space with all sorts of fire equipment lining one wall, an old fire truck (at least, the cab of it and a slice of the back part), huge numbers of patches, given or traded from fire departments the world over, and a gift shop about the same size as the exhibit space.

The Fire Zone offers occasional fire safety demos (for a fee), and it is staffed by a guy running the shop and a fire fighter who is happy to answer questions about the items on display.  I got to talking with him about the communications gear in the truck (very outdated according to him) and the pros and cons of GPS, which the Fire Department does not use.

FDNY Fire Zone

Where’s the Fire?

My grown-up reaction to the Fire Zone was disappointment.  I wrote it off, and was ready to move on to other things in five minutes.  But the group of three kids I borrowed for the visit loved it.  Gear to look at.  Heavy fire jackets to try on. A fire truck they can get inside and pretend to drive?  Best. Thing. Ever.  They would’ve stayed there all day, maybe.  We grown-ups talked about museums and joined in the kids’ intense pretending periodically.

FDNY Fire Zone

Therefore I’ve asterisked my “Should You Go?” rating for this place. Any grown-up not in need of any Fire Department-branded gifts can skip this place.  At least one of the visitors while I was there worked as a fire fighter and seemed to enjoy talking shop with the FDNY officer on duty.  So amend that: fire fighters might derive value out of a visit.

FDNY Fire ZoneHowever, if you have kids roughly 4-8 years old, the story differs dramatically.  In that case the Fire Zone merits 4 Met buttons for visitability.  For anyone with young kids interested in firefighters or fire trucks (and what young kid isn’t?), this place will seem ultra-cool, with a whole truck to play in and around.  It’s a rare free, indoor play space. While it is somewhat commercial (there’s that gift shop after all), it’s not nearly as commercial as say the other kid-friendly indoor spots near Rockefeller Center, the Nintendo or Lego stores.

For any grown ups interested in fire departments and fire fighting, I strongly recommend the Fire Museum in SoHo, but you can safely stay out of the Zone.

FDNY Fire Zone

For Reference:

Address 34 West 51st Street, Manhattan
Website fdnysmart.org/firezone
Cost  General Admission:  Free.  Fire Safety Demo $6

 

Queens County Farm Museum

Edification value  2/5
Entertainment value  3/5
Should you go?  3/5
Time spent 32 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned In the dormant children’s garden, the sign for Egyptian walking onions, which I learned are a type of perennial onion.

Queens County Farm Museum
Walk Like An…Nevermind

Queens County Farm MuseumThis is a necessarily incomplete review.  Visiting a “farm museum” in midwinter is not a recipe for seeing the place at its best, busiest, or most inviting.  Indeed, I’m not sure why the Queens County Farm Museum doesn’t just shut down from December til March.  But it was open and it’s on my list. So I gathered an intrepid friend and we trooped out to the far eastern fringes of Queens, where New York City blurs into Nassau County, to get the lay of the land.

I imagine this place exists mainly so that city kids can learn that chickens come in forms other than McNuggets and wool doesn’t start out life as a sweater.  And I bet most visitors arrive on school buses.

The Farm in Winter

Queens County Farm MuseumI’m sure that in more clement seasons the 40+ acres of grounds are verdant and bucolic.  This time of year, not so much.

Queens County Farm Museum
Alpaca Truths

On a winter weekday, the only things to see are the livestock and some dormant farm equipment.  A couple of alpacas, some goats, a few sheep, a couple of cows, and a whole flock of laying hens.  Indeed on that last point, you can buy farm fresh eggs at the gift shop when it’s not winter (hens apparently don’t do much laying in cold months).  You can also get farm-fresh honey and alpaca yarn at the gift shop.

Queens County Farm Museum
Urban Chickens

As I was flying the coop a touring school group came crowding around to look at the birds.  One kid asked if he could pet them, the answer to which was a resounding “no!”  Chickens like to peck.  And as I got further away I thought I heard a kid say “KFC! KFC!” However, I was almost out of earshot.  It might have been “I can’t see!  I can’t see!”

Queens County Farm Museum

A Little History

The origins of today’s farm museum extend all the way back to an actual farm founded in 1697, though there aren’t any physical traces from that era.  The grounds do still have an historic house belonging to the Adriance family, dating to just before the American Revolution.

Queens County Farm Museum

The Adriances kept the place in their family for about a century, before it passed quickly through a succession of other farming families, and from there to the Creedmoor State Hospital, which owned and operated it from 1926 through the 1970s.

Creedmoor is a nearby psychiatric hospital associated with this and another New York museum, the Living Museum (review coming very soon).  Creedmoor used the farm for rehabilitation and to grow food for patients, and flowers and ornamental plants to brighten its campus.

As Creedmoor’s population shrank, it had less need of its own farm, and so the place spun off into a museum in 1975.

Should You Visit the Farm?

The Queens County Farm Museum website claims that its receives 500,000 visitors annually, making it “the highest attended cultural institution in Queens County.”  I feel skeptical about the superlative given that the borough is home to New York’s great contemporary bastion of tragedy (and occasional farce), Citifield.  But it likely is the highest attendance of a Queens County museum.

Regardless of the myriads of others who go, should you?

Certainly you shouldn’t visit the farm in the dead of February.  Most of the buildings are shut down, there’s no public greenhouses like the New York and Brooklyn Botanic Gardens or Wave Hill have, and the various zoos offer more convenient places to encounter a goat if you feel inclined to do that.

Queens County Farm Museum
For de-goating yourself

I felt disappointed in the place from a learning perspective; I wanted more in the way of explanatory texts. Even with fields fallow, the place could explain what farms do during the winter. But perhaps they have an awesome brochure, or do a great guides/docents/explainers program in warmer seasons.  I will have to come back.

The largest downside to the Queens County Farm Museum is its location. For anyone coming from more central parts of the city it’s decidedly inconvenient.  You have to really want to go (and ideally have a car).

Additionally, I didn’t see much attraction for grown-ups. Buying farmstand stuff grown right there would be neat, but New York these days is blessed with an abundance of farmers markets offering terrific produce.  But I reckon the Queens County Farm Museum offers a fascinating and eye-opening experience for city kids.  And New York has nothing else quite like it.

Queens County Farm Museum

For Reference:

Address 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park, Queens
Website queensfarm.org
Cost  General Admission:  Free
Other Relevant Links

 

Children’s Museum of the Arts

Edification value  3/5
Entertainment value  4/5
Should you go?  3/5
Time spent 140 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned “Home Decoration Confusion,” by Ellen Harvey.  A spare modernist dollhouse crammed with fancy wallpapers and chandeliers and such, from the ornamentation exhibit. 

Children's Museum of the Arts, Manhattan

Children's Museum of the Arts, ManhattanThe Children’s Museum of the Arts is my first review of a New York children’s museum. While I like to think I’m unusually immature for my age, I feel I should have an actual member of the intended audience help calibrate my impressions of these places. And so I enlisted the aid of an eight-year-old friend, whom I’ll call “Zed,” and his mom, who kindly visited with me.  Thanks!

Located near Tribeca, the Children’s Museum of the Arts consists of a set of activity spaces arranged around a central open area. Kids have a wide choice of art projects, some of which require signing up in advance, others you can just walk in and do. On the day we visited the art options included:

  • Making miniature clay figures
  • Fun with sound and audio recording
  • Bending wire into words or shapes and then making prints from it
  • Painting wintry scenes
  • Creating stop-motion animation

Helpers for all the activities we did were terrific — patient and engaged and full of fun and helpful ideas when needed.

Children's Museum of the Arts, Manhattan
The Popular Clay Bar

In addition, there’s a specialized studio just for very young folks, where kids and their caregivers can collaborate.

The museum also has a neat mezzanine space with big windows onto the lobby and facing outside, filled with giant blue foam blocks of all shapes and sizes, where kids can build and destroy and generally rampage to their hearts’ content. I didn’t get the purpose of that at first, except to ensure the mixing of kid germs as much as possible.

Children's Museum of the Arts, Manhattan
Blocky Chaos

However, Zed observed that he found it valuable. After concentrating on making a lengthy stop-motion video, he needed a place to blow off some steam before he was ready to engage in something else that required focus. So, good job on the museum to have thought of that. However, Zed also pointed out that he thought some kids would spend their whole visit just playing in there, not doing any of the art stuff.

Children's Museum of the Arts, Manhattan
Space for a Time Out

And finally there are some private rooms where you can book art parties, as well as a “quiet room” with a few picture books, presumably for time outs.

Ornaments (Not the Christmas Kind)

Ornament is Crime, Children's Museum of the ArtsThis place is primarily an activity center; I’m almost a little skeptical of calling it a “museum.” But it does have some art installations. Indeed, the open connector space between the various activity studios housed an exhibit on called “Ornamentation and Other Refrigerator Magnets” by Ellen Harvey. I found it quite clever, although I think it’s a little more to a grown-up’s taste than a kid’s. For example, there’s a witty display of books riffing on modernist architect Adolph Loos’s lecture on “ornament and crime,” perched on the fanciest shelves imaginable.

Children's Museum of the Arts, ManhattanI’d wager that most kids who visit this place don’t give the art a look at all.  But engaging a kid in a conversation about stuff that’s fancy versus stripped down, and why some things are very decorated versus not so much, probably works well. It’s straightforward, and most kids will have some experience of that contrast, and possibly even an opinion about it.

Moreover, I respect the museum for (a) placing the wall texts down at kid-eye-level, (b) not oversimplifying the descriptions too much while (c) including a mini-glossary with each wall caption. Terms explained on various wall texts included “dictator,” “chic,” “hermitage,” “naturalistic,” and “stylized.” It was really well done, and again demonstrates the Children’s Museum curators considering their audience.

Another art installation featured a hallway full of flowers and plants and other organic forms all cut out of denim by British artist Ian Berry. I’m not sure I get it; why denim? But it was rather pretty just the same.

Children's Museum of the Arts, Manhattan
Denim Art

A Zed’s Eye View of the Children’s Museum of the Arts

Zed and I discussed his impression of the museum afterwards. He really liked it, and said he both learned stuff (like how tedious it is to make a stop-motion animation) and had fun (particularly in the room of soft bricks).

Zed made several things, including a pastel drawing of a “spider-mobile.” I would’ve thought that as a New Yorker Spider-Man would just take a Lyft or Via where he needs to go, or the subway. But Zed disagrees.  He singled out the art studio as his favorite part, because he liked having a broad choice of materials to work with, and the freedom to create what he wanted to create.

Spider Mobile
“Zed,” “Spider-Mobile Worldwide,” 2018, pastel on paper

His one caveat in terms of recommending the place was that he thought it best for “friends who don’t act like they have ADHD.” An interesting (and deliberate) choice of phrasing, but it conveys his point, and I agree. The CMA demands some focus and concentration from its young visitors, so those who are challenged by that may not find it fun. For most kids, though, it’s a good place to spend an afternoon experimenting with different artistic types and techniques.

I made about 5 seconds of this video (the bit starting at 0:35):

One final note: the Children’s Museum of the Arts lacks a cafe — be sure to bring some juice boxes or a snack or something. Alternately, if your kid, like Zed, is both sufficiently mature and obsessed with cars, there’s a very nearby Joe Coffee located inside the Cadillac showroom. So kids (or grown-ups, even) can ogle some extremely fancy cars while enjoying a post-museum snack.

Children's Museum of the Arts, Manhattan

For Reference:

Address 103 Charlton Street, Manhattan
Website cmany.org
Cost  General Admission:  $12
Other Relevant Links

 

Lefferts Historic House

 

Edification value  2/5
Entertainment value  3/5
Should you go?  2/5
Time spent 29 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned
Lefferts Historic House
Wormwood!

Leffert’s House has a scraggly little wormwood plant growing in its garden.  Artisanal Brooklyn absinthe, anyone?

 

Lefferts Historic HouseLeffert Pieterson, a Dutch farmer, obtained a tract of land in the village of Flatbush in 1687, and built himself a house there.  That original Lefferts homestead was burned by the Americans just before the Battle of Brooklyn, to prevent the British from seizing and using it.  However, Pieter Lefferts, in the fourth generation of a family that as some point reversed names, rebuilt a fine farmhouse for himself and his family in 1783. Continue reading “Lefferts Historic House”

New York Hall of Science

Edification value  3/5
Entertainment value  4/5
Should you go?  3/5
Time spent 135 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned The Hall of Science boats a small outdoor rocket garden, with a Gemini Titan 2, a Mercury-Atlas D, and a reproduction Saturn V engine.  

Mercury Atlas D Rocket, New York Hall of Science
Fly me to the moon…or at least orbit

Very big science, and a reminder that we sent the first astronauts to space strapped to the top of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

New York Hall of ScienceFlushing Meadows Corona Park is strewn with relics from New York’s two great World’s Fairs, in 1939 and 1964.  While the Queens Museum is the last building still around from 1939, the nearby New York Hall of Science is a notable survivor from 1964. Today, the Hall of Science is sort of a patchwork of old-school science museum and hip, modern, interactive experience.  To wit, it kinda wants to be called “Ny-Sci,” though I don’t want to call it that.  Its home is a similar patchwork–at times I couldn’t figure out what parts of it are midcentury versus later additions.  

World's Fair at New York Hall of Science, Queens
1964 World’s Fair Display

Continue reading “New York Hall of Science”