The more I experience modern art with my family, the more I like it. Sure, there were some works at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City that I really didn’t understand. Like the snow shovel hanging from the ceiling. Or the potato house. Or A wall pitted by a single air rifle shot in which there is no actual air rifle shot.
I’m still scratching my head about that last one, and I think that’s the point. Art, especially modern art, is supposed to evoke emotion. When I look at a piece of modern art, I might feel happiness, love, peace, curiosity, political unrest, alarm, confusion or disgust, and it’s OK if I can’t clearly identify the what or why of the art.
I think that many children understand this naturally, which just one reason that MoMA is a good destination for families in New York City. Here are a few more.
The Museum of Modern Art is home to some of the most famous works of some of the most famous artists of all time. My 10-year-old daughter was taking art classes at the time of our visit and she was excited to see some of the pieces she had learned about. Here are some of the well-known art pieces on display that were on her list:
- The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh
- The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali
- Water Lilies by Claude Monet
- Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth
- Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol
- Fulang Chang and I by Frida Kahlo
Many of the older and most recognizable works of art by artists like Picasso, Van Gogh, and Dali are located on the top floor of the museum. We started there and worked our way back down.
My less-artistic 7-year-old son was genuinely delighted to find out that video games are modern art. He was not having nearly as much fun at the Museum of Modern Art as his sister until we found our way to the Architecture and Design gallery on the 3rd floor where he discovered several classic video game stations.
He cheerfully appreciated the artistic value of Pac-Man, Tetris, Pong and others for some time while the rest of us explored the rest of the gallery at leisure – and maybe played a game or two ourselves.
The Museum of Modern Art offers a variety of programs especially for families. You may wish to print art cards before you leave home, pick up an audio guide especially for kids after you arrive, or spend time in a hands-on art lab during your visit.
We visited the Museum of Modern Art at the end of a big day and did not take advantage of the programs and labs for children that would likely have made our visit even more fun and meaningful. Visit MoMA’s Kids and Families page to learn more about resources for families.
Kids get in Free
Kids under the age of 17 get in free to the Museum of Modern Art. Enough said.
The Museum of Modern Art is located in Midtown Manhattan and we were pleasantly surprised to see how close it is to other popular attractions like Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Broadway and the shops on 5th Avenue. We walked there after our trip to the Top of the Rock.
The Museum of Modern Art was one of my daughter’s favorite places on our action-packed family vacation in New York. My husband and I found it fascinating and worthwhile too. I’m betting that if we had got my son into one of the hands-on art labs, in addition to the video games, even he would admit to having a good time.
Good to Know
Where: 11 West 53 Street, New York City
When: Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hours are typically 10:30 am to 5:30 pm. Open until 8:00 pm on Fridays. Check the website for updates.
- Adults: $25
- Children (16 and under): FREE
- Students with ID: $14
- Seniors (65+ with ID): $18
- FREE on Fridays from 4-8 pm
How Long: 2-4 hours
Amenities: gift shop, three restaurants, family programs
Planning a trip to New York City?
- The Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park
- Museum of the Moving Image
- Louis Armstrong House Museum
and these helpful posts about New York City
- The ULTIMATE Guide to the New York City Subway for families
- Should you buy a New York CityPASS?
- 9/11 Memorial Museum for families
- What to expect at Top of the Rock
- Our New York destination page
- Our New York City for Families Pinterest board
- Our New York State for Families Pinterest board