The Upper West Side is known for its museums, and with chilly weather ushering us indoors and the relaxed schedules of the holiday season upon us, now is the perfect time to pay a visit to these fine cultural institutions. Here’s a look at the best exhibits and activities on tap through the holidays and into the New Year.
Central Park West at 79th Street
American Museum of Natural History (Image: Ingfbruno/Wikimedia)
The beauty and wonder of the natural world abounds throughout the massive American Museum of Natural History. In the museum’s latest exhibit, ¡Cuba!, the rich biodiversity, geology and art of the Caribbean’s largest island are on display. Discover Cuba’s caves and coral reefs, take in the country’s vibrant art and street life, and explore the renowned tobacco trade, now through April 2017. In Dinosaurs among Us, now through Jan. 2, you’ll explore the incredible, 170-million-year evolution of birds from their dinosaur origins, and Dark Universe Space Show introduces viewers to two great mysteries of the cosmos — dark matter and dark energy — narrated by famed astrophysicist and director of AMNH’s Hayden Planetarium, Neil deGrasse Tyson.
212 West 83rd St.
Children’s Museum of Manhattan (Image: Wikimedia)
There’s no better place to banish rainy day blues than the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. Outfitted with brightly colored play spaces, educational exhibits and engaging art projects, the center welcomes more than 350,000 visitors a year to its Upper West Side location. Here, displays and activities focus on development and education, and are appropriate for toddlers through older children. Join the CMOM team at Chelsea Piers on Jan. 29, 2017 for their regular Sunday Funday event, bringing together hundreds of New York families for a day of entertainment, sports, games, food, and, of course, creative projects.
170 Central Park West at 77th Street
New-York Historical Society & Museum (Image: Modesto del Río/Flickr)
The New-York Historical Society transforms into the winter wonderland of every toy aficionado’s dreams with Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection. Featuring model trains, scenery and toys from the museum’s own collection, the large-scale multimedia exhibit begins at the West 77th Street entrance where trains appear to rumble through the museum. The exhibit, on display through Feb. 26, is highlighted by the All Aboard! Historical Train Weekend on Dec. 10 and 11. Also through Feb. 26, The First Jewish Americans: Freedom and Culture in the New World explores the path of Jews in colonial America through portraits, drawings, documents and ritual objects.
2 Lincoln Square
American Folk Art Museum (Image: American Folk Art Museum/Wikimedia)
In the eerily beautiful Securing the Shadow: Posthumous Portraiture in America, the American Folk Art Museum explores the manner in which human beings commemorate and celebrate existence and death. From paintings of the deceased as living beings to realistic post-mortem daguerreotypes, the exhibit explores the shifting meaning of death as it coincides with America’s evolution from Puritanical outpost to prosperous nation where individuality is celebrated. Now through Feb. 26, 2017.