Plan Your Visit
At the New-York Historical Society, we believe that knowing where we came from helps us understand who are are now. That goes for kids too, which is why we created the DiMenna Children's History Museum, the first-ever museum bringing American history to life through the eyes of children!
Targeted for children ages 8–13, the DiMenna Children’s History Museum focuses on the life stories of a diverse selection of youngsters who lived in New York City from the late seventeenth through the twentieth centuries. Featured in individual pavilions are Cornelia van Varick (ca. 1692–1734), the daughter of the Dutch merchant Margrieta van Varick; Alexander Hamilton (1757–1804), the teenaged West Indian immigrant who became the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury; James McCune Smith (1813–1865), the African Free School student and first African American medical doctor; Esteban Bellán (1849–1932), the Cuban teenager and first Latin American to play baseball in the U. S.; the children who rode the orphan trains from New York City to rural areas in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; and the newsboys and girls who sold newspapers on the city streets in the twentieth century.
In the DiMenna Children's History Museum there are:
- Bathrooms with changing tables
- Snacks for sale during non-school group hours
- Areas to sit and rest, interactive games to play and books to read
- Free wireless access to the Internet
- Education staff are on hand to answer questions and provide direction
Families can have great conversations in museums: It may be helpful to focus your visit on a theme, such as people of New York (what they wore, what images of them tell us about their lives, etc.), or views of New York, depending on the age of your children.
Ask them compare and contrast questions:
HOW WAS THIS PERSON'S LIFE SIMILAR TO THE LAST PERSON WE SAW?
HOW WERE THEIR LIVES DIFFERENT?
HOW ARE THEY SIMILAR TO/DIFFERENT FROM OUR LIVES TODAY?
In the other galleries, direct your child's attention to particular works of art and objects to make the visit more memorable. Bring paper and pencils to sketch together in the galleries. Ask questions to help children pull out details:
WHAT DO YOU SEE?
WHAT MAKES YOU SAY THAT?
WHAT COLORS/SHAPES/FIGURES/OBJECTS DO YOU SEE?
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS HAPPENING?
WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL HAPPEN NEXT?
WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS SCENE SOUNDS/SMELLS LIKE?
COMPARE THE OBJECT OR IMAGE TO YOUR DAILY LIFE?
Share your thoughts and ideas about the works with your child. And have fun!