Best kid-friendly museums

Mass Moca in North Adams, MA.
Mass Moca in North Adams, MA.

Whether you’re a parent or a caregiver, the summer can seem like it goes a lot longer than a few months.

The question of “When do these kids go back to school?” might pop up on a daily basis. Not because the children aren’t loved, just because there’s so much time to plan for and fill.

Museums can be tough for some kids. They’ve got to be kinda quiet and it usually involves walking and looking rather than playing for long stretches of time. Museums can almost seem like a monetary investment for parents, with some admittance fees costing almost $20 per person.

Yet, if done right, a museum visit can be a fantastic deal, keeping a family occupied, learning and playing for several hours. It’s all in how you plan it. If you’re hitting the road this summer, check out some of these museums that have great programs and exhibitions just for kids, along with plenty of things to do for their adult counterparts.

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The Hyde Collection

The Glens Falls museum has an entire floor dedicated to family programs. Every summer, they host Community Day, Children’s Art Workshops and Art Crawl. They also host a SmART Series in July and August on Tuesday afternoons. There’s a guided tour and a studio activity for children and adults. This year, they added a SmART Tots section for preschoolers and their guardians. If attention spans are running shorter than usual and a tour is just not going to happen, try out one of their Discovery Kits. The Hyde’s education department puts together these kits filled with activities and art ideas that pertain to the exhibitions they’ll see throughout the galleries. For more information on their programming, visit or contact Keri Dudek, assistant educator, at (518)792-1761 ext. 317 or [email protected] (Photo provided by The Hyde Collection: A young artist taking part in one of the Hyde’s summer programs).


World Awareness Children’s Museum

While you’re up in Glens Falls, check out the World Awareness Children’s Museum. It’s perhaps one of the most interactive on this list. Kids can play or interact with just about every part of the museum, from the authentic Japanese tea room, to the marketplace, to the cafe. This summer, they’re big exhibit is all about water. With a boat table, a fish game and other activities, the exhibition gives kids a chance to explore the lakes and rivers around the Capital Region and what makes them so important.


By far the largest museum around and the fourth-largest in the country, MASS MoCA sometimes feels endless. Which is perfect if you have an entire day to spend in the North Adams area. Amidst the numerous galleries of modern art, there’s a Kidspace with an art bar and dedicated creative play area. Kids can also take various art classes or work with the person on staff to create till their heart’s content. The museum frequently brings in performances that are geared towards kids and adults.

060318-MassMoca-EEJ-07.jpg(Photo by Eric Jenks/For The Daily Gazette: Mass MoCa in North Adams, MA.)

The Clark Art Institute

Picasso and play don’t sound like they would go together. Yet the Clark makes the case for both. While walking around looking at paintings from the likes of Mary Cassatt and others, parents and kids can pick up a few activities to travel around from exhibit to exhibit with. They can also take a break and head outdoors. The Institute has about 140 acres to explore and to geocache. They also have weekly walking tours and a summer family day on July 8.

Children’s Museum of Saratoga

It’s in the Capital Region’s backyard and it’s got something for just about every child. There’s a Congress Park exhibit, with a tree house and activities where kids can learn about local animals. Then there’s a Silly Science Center, a Saratoga Trolley, and a supermarket/post office. For hours and events, visit

Museum of Innovation and Science (miSci), Schenectady

Between their summer STEM classes, an exhibit all about the human brain, planetarium and the observatory, there’s plenty to do for the day. Though the Dudley Observatory won’t be open until late July, it’s slated to be one of the best in the state, let alone the Capital Region. If you plan to visit before the observatory opens (or after), check out the Suits-Bueche Planetarium, which runs daily shows. For more information visit

Children’s Museum of Science and Technology, Troy

If your children are left-brain dominant, the Children’s Museum of Science and Technology might be your best bet. They’ve got a 10-week summer camp, but they also have daily activities that kids can drop in on. This summer they have interactive exhibitions featuring woodland animals, nanotechnology, a GE Discovery room and more.

Albany Institute of History and Art

The museum that brought out Victorian fashions along with original illustrations from the “Addy” American Girl Doll book series continues to offer an array of children-focused programs over the summer. There’s the ‘Tute for Tots program, which is geared toward preschool aged children and their guardians. The education team will lead tours, read stories, and lead art projects.

There’s also an Artful Mornings program for children ages 6 to 12, where kids can work on landscapes, portraits, watercolors and other projects. The Institute has a children’s gallery that is ideal for younger kids, with a Leggo playspace, a puppet theater, a hieroglyphic rubbing station and a light table. For more information visit

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