Planning a trip to New York City? Is the Met on your wish list?
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, as well as famous paintings by American artists like Gilbert Stuart.
Naturally, the museum is great for families because it is so educational. It's an excellent way to introduce children to classic art and culture. However, it's important to go with realistic expectations about how much you can see in whatever time you have.
Make the most of your visit. Use these tips for visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art with kids.
What to Expect
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is huge and can be overwhelming if you try to see it all in one visit. We didn't find many of the interactive exhibits that my children enjoy at newer museums.
So, 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.
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. 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!
Ways to Save
These groups get free admission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art every day. Voluntary donations are appreciated.
- Kids under age 12
- Residents of New York State with proof of residence
- Students who live in New York State, New Jersey and Connecticut with student ID and proof of residence
- Members of U.S. art museums that have reciprocal agreements with the Met
Your admission is good for three consecutive days. Visit more than once to get the biggest bang for your buck.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is included in these money-saving passes, along with the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and many more. If you’ll be visiting several popular New York City attractions, one of these passes will probably save you money.
- Go New York Pass (formerly Explorer Pass) – Choose 3, 4, or 5 activities from a list of 80+ attractions.
- CityPASS – Bundle and save on admission to 6 popular destinations. It’s the least expensive of these passes.
- New York Pass – Choose a number of days and do as many of the 100+ activities as you can in that time.
- Sightseeing Pass – Choose a number of days or a number of attractions. It’s the most flexible pass option.
We have used both Go New York and New York CityPASS. Both work well, but they work differently. Click the links below to read more about each pass and decide which is the best fit for your interests and budget.
- Tips for Getting the Most From Your Go New York Pass
- Tips for Getting the Most From Your New York CityPASS
Disclosure: We received complimentary CityPASSes and Go City passes on different NYC trips for the purpose of review. However, we would have visited the world-famous Met with or without a pass. All opinions are my own.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a great destination for families in New York City. It's huge, so go with reasonable expectations – especially with kids. Do a little research in advance to choose exhibits that your family will most enjoy.
If you're visiting with young children, save time for the playground next to the museum. Finally, avoid paying full price. Find out if you are eligible for free admission and consider purchasing a money-saving pass that includes the Met and other popular NYC attractions.
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: $25 per adult. Discounts for seniors and teens. Kids ages 0-11 get in free.
How Long: At least 2 hours
Amenities: restaurants, gift shop, audio tours