The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City holds the treasures of the world. I was thrilled to see the art and artifacts from ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and Asia in person, as well as famous paintings by American artists like Gilbert Stuart. Beautiful jewelry, fashion, furniture and much more can be found throughout this great museum.
Naturally, the museum is great for families because it is so educational. There is something here for nearly every interest, and it’s an excellent way to introduce children to classic art and culture. That said, it is important to go with realistic expectations.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is huge, and can be overwhelming if you try to see it all in one visit. Also, we didn’t find many of the interactive exhibits that my children enjoy at newer museums. It’s a good idea to:
- prep your kids in advance,
- focus on exhibits that will interest them, and
- know the right length of time for your family.
Here are my tips for making a visit to the Met fun for children:
Read From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
This 1967 Newberry Medal winner by E. L. Konigsburg is a fun way to spark your kids’ (and your own) imagination before you visit the museum. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is the story of a sister and brother who run away from home for a few weeks to live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They sleep in the famous beds, bathe in the fountain, hide in the restrooms during security rounds and blend in with school groups during the day as they explore the galleries.
The specific bed, fountain and other exhibits mentioned in the book are no longer there, but many of the exhibits and galleries mentioned are. Print or download the “Mixed-up Files” guide before your visit to help you find exhibits mentioned in the book.
Get a Family Guide
Let me say it again. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is huge! Most families will not be able to see and appreciate it all in a single visit. Thankfully, the museum offers many family-friendly museum guides to help you focus on the exhibits that interest you and your children most. You can browse and download all the guides from the museum’s website, and you can find several of them in the museum as well.
Here are a few guides that would attract my kids’ attention:
- The “Mixed-up Files” issue
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians
- Kids’ Picks – Popular exhibits for children
- Family Map
- Suggested itineraries
Visit the museum’s website at www.metmuseum.org/learn to find out more about resources for children, teens and adults during your visit. Ask about any scheduled activities for families at admission.
Visit the playground
The Metropolitan Museum of Art borders Central Park, and there is a playground on the north side of the museum. If you’re visiting with young children, be sure to save time for the playground before or after you explore the museum. One more possibility: one parent could easily take younger children to the playground to allow older members of the family to spend more time in the museum. Your hand stamp allows for re-entry.
The front steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art are a popular gathering place for visitors. The sidewalk in front is lined with food carts. At the end of our visit, we bought ice cream bars and soaked up the spirit of New York City on the front steps of the Met. Make the entire Met experience a good one, and your kids will want to return on a future trip!
The Met is located directly across Central Park from the American Museum of Natural History, so it’s easy to see both in the same day! Click here to read about the American Museum of Natural History in a new tab.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is included on the New York CityPASS, which we recommend if you are also planning to visit popular attractions like the American Museum of Natural History, Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, Statue of Liberty and 9/11 Memorial Museum.
New York CityPASS is a good deal even if you don’t visit every attraction. However, children under age 12 get in free to the Metropolitan Museum of Art all the time, so do the math for the attractions on your itinerary before you buy.
Disclosure: We received complimentary adult CityPASSes for the purpose of review. This post contains affiliate links. Using these links does not increase the price you pay, but does help us provide free content. Thank you for your support!
Good to Know
Where: 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street), New York City
When: Open every day except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and the first Monday in May.
Open 10 am – 5:30 pm most days. Open until 9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
How Much: This is the museum’s suggested donation, but I strongly recommend paying the full amount. It’s the right thing to do. The Cloisters museum and gardens in northern Manhattan is included with your admission.
- Adults $25
- Students: $12
- Children (0-11): FREE
- Seniors: $17
- Students at New York City public schools and some local colleges get in free with ID
How Long: At least 2 hours
Amenities: restaurants, gift shop, audio tours