Last weekend my family and I visited the Children’s Museum of the Arts (CMA) in SoHo for the first time. We all agreed that not only is it the best museum for kids in New York City, it is the best museum of art for kids in the WHOLE WORLD.

Absolutely everything about CMA is made for children, and it is 100% HANDS-ON. Each activity offered is staffed by an enthusiastic, helpful teaching artist, who will individually instruct your child in a new artistic medium.

CMA offers arts education for children of all ages, including babies and teens. It has a ball pit, a slide and a quiet, down-time room for little ones. It also has a state of the art media lab and sound booth for bigger kids. It is a museum that is sure to make ALL of your children happy.

THE CLAY BAR        

We began our visit at the Clay Bar, where teaching artists let our sons choose what they wanted to make with fresh, colorful pieces of modeling clay. The teachers patiently walked them step-by-step through the process of creating a polar bear and a mouse. The boys were enthralled, especially when they were allowed to keep both their models and the models created by the teachers.

THE MEDIA LAB

Our next stop was the Media Lab. The boys’ eyes popped when they saw the many computers, video cameras and giant projectors — they couldn’t believe they were allowed to use any and all of them!

The instructor showed them how to create stop motion animation with the clay animals they had just made in the Clay Bar. The educational benefits of this experience were two-fold. First, I love that the children explored the connection between artistic creativity and what they see on TV (think Wallace and Gromit). Second, the stop motion process requires two sets of hands: I have never seen my sons working so happily together to create something they both loved!

And here’s the icing on the cake: CMA posts the videos the children make on their blog. It’s a souvenir the kids can access any time, from anywhere. Check out our sons’ masterpiece!

THE FINE ARTS STUDIO

We ended our visit in the gorgeous Fine Arts Studio. With it’s floor to ceiling windows, vibrant colors and tables strewn with every artistic tool imaginable, it thrums with creativity.

A few of the tables were set up with materials for making memory boxes, which the boys used to create little houses for their new clay critters. They worked on the boxes for literally HOURS, and we had so much fun helping them with their projects. I assure you that nothing so precious could ever be found at Toys R Us or FAO Schwartz.

As you can imagine, CMA is very popular, and can get a bit crowded on rainy, cold days. Do not rule it out as an activity for a beautiful day: it is full of sun-drenched rooms letting in tons of natural light, making it a cheerful place to be in any weather. To find out more, check out the CMA website. You and your family will not be disappointed!

This article was originally published by Hilton Mom Voyage.

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