The Brooklyn Children’s Museum was the first of its kind, inspiring the development of today’s 300 children’s museums around the world. Until 1899, there was no such thing as a museum that had been created expressly for children. Admission to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Museum and several Prospect Park attractions are a few of many included attractions, museums and tours with the New York Sightseeing Pass.
The Brooklyn institution, located at 145 Brooklyn Avenue in the neighborhood of Crown Heights, recently celebrated another first. It became the first “green” children’s museum in the country. An expansion in 2007 doubled its earlier space while installing sustainable systems to give kids an up close lesson about energy and environmental conservation. Throughout the years, hundreds of thousands of children have visited the Museum’s galleries, including actor Mos Def and musician Foxy Brown.
While most museums cater only to school age children, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum has numerous exhibits that attract preschoolers. One of the most popular is a pizza parlor, complete with tables and chairs, dishware, felt pizza toppings, a cash register, and toy money.
The exhibit is always buzzing with children of all ages serving their parents, who offer them toy tips in return. The Totally Tots section has a gated area for children under 18 months and a play pond where toddlers wear plastic smocks while playing with toys in the water.
The Museum houses a working greenhouse and several live animals, which are always on display and sometimes used in presentations.
Historically, the most popular animal at the museum was Plato, a spider monkey who became quite famous when he lived there from 1909-1914. Today, the most popular animal is an enormous yellow and white python, while the creepiest in the collection are the hissing cockroaches from Madagascar. The braver kids can touch them during educational presentations.
There are frequent educational programs for all ages, including children as young as 2, performances of music, puppets, and magic, and even internship programs for older children at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. The Museum has won national awards and has attracted the attention of luminaries such as Madame Alexander, who in 1953 donated a 36-piece set of Coronation Dolls in honor of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. These dolls are part of the Museum’s 27,000 piece collection of objects and specimens.
With the intention of staying in Crown Heights for another 100 years, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum has buried a time capsule on the corner of Brooklyn Avenue and St. Marks Avenue containing such modern day objects as a New York City Metro card.
Visit the museum Brooklyn Children’s Museum website for details on hours and prices.
Photos on this page courtesy of Brooklyn Children’s Museum.