Exploring the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM)

Snake x-ray at the Children's Museum of Manhattan

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) is the latest in Operation Explore New York. Located in the Upper West Side, it’s a good choice for young kids with short attention spans.

Together with T’s school friend L, we headed first to the new ‘America to Zanzibar, Muslim Clutures Near and Far’ exhibition. T and L made a bee-line for a two-story dhow boat exhibit complete with a fun contraption to haul goods up and down. There were also exotic fruit and spice markets which the kids could examine and sniff. L’s mom and I were drawn to the Turkish tile puzzles. You know, the ones with a square missing and you have to slide the pieces around to recreate the original picture. Loved those as a kid.

But the most popular ‘America to Zanzibar’ exhibit with our kids was the replica Pakistani bus, painted bright red and decorated with authentic designs. One side of the bus was magnetic, and children can have fun arranging designs copied from real Pakistani buses. Not to mention they get to sit in the driver’s seat and pretend to steer. Hours of fun right there.

Having exhausted the ‘America to Zanzibar’ rooms, we tramped upstairs to the ‘Adventures with Dora and Diego’ section, as T has a mild obsession with Dora the Explorer. Some of it was a bit young for these five year olds, but they were soon absorbed in a light box and animal x-ray corner, which encouraged the kids to match the x-ray to the animal. We were all fascinated by the snake bones.

My personal favourite was a little low-brow but still makes me laugh. The ‘Eat Sleep Play’ permanent exhibition featured a Royal Flush replica toilet complete with framed poem fetchingly titled, ‘Constipation Contemplation’. Also found myself reading the Bristol Stool Chart with interest. Oh dear.

We finished our visit with a stint in what must have been the stuffiest, smelliest museum room I’ve ever been in. (Though this could be attributed to the fact I was eight months pregnant and feeling more than a little overwhelmed by all the tiny bodies hurtling about, pursued by nannies on their hands-free phones). T & L adored the replica fire trucks, fireman’s pole and MTA bus in the PlayWorks room.

Mainly due to size and variety, it didn’t quite match up to the calibre of the Boston Children’s Museum, nor the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, (follow the links for my reviews of those two museums).  It was also unbelievably crowded due to the New York schools’ mid-winter break. However, the kids had a great time, even if the moms were a bit frazzled by the end.

Tips if you’re planning your own visit to the CMOM:

  • CMOM is located in The Tisch Building at 212 West 83rd Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenues
  • It’s open Tuesday – Sunday, closed on Mondays
  • Tickets for adults and children over 1 cost $12. Babies under 12 months go free
  • No food or drink allowed, so for a fairly decent local deli experience, head round the corner to Artie’s Delicatessen, 2290 Broadway at 83rd Street. There’s a fun children’s menu wheel which ours enjoyed studying, and my French Toast was delicious.

This week’s Highs & Lows:


  • B turning three. So she has now officially spent half her life in New York. No wonder the accent is haywire. C took the day off work and we went to see the Titanosaur at the American Museum of Natural History. Brilliant (click here for my full review of the AMNH). But I think the true treat for her was getting a specially day with both her parents, all to herself – something second children rarely seem to get, despite best intentions
  • Classic quote from T, on somehow falling off the loo: “Falling is quite a lot like flying. Only more painfuller.”
  • Finishing the quilt for our imminent arrival. Officially my sixth quilt, finally starting to feel I’ve got the hang of this sewing malarky
  • And last but not least, it’s SPRING! After an incredibly mild winter, compared to last year’s horror, it’s still lovely to be able to stride about with bare legs and no coat and spot some snow drops.


  • Having my very rude and cheeky daughters mimicing me in the most unflattering way – lots of clutching stomachs and gasping “Oh, I can’t bend that far any more,” “Oh, my swollen feet,” “Hang on, just let me catch my breath”… Humph
  • The local playgrounds are suddenly packed again, now the weather has improved. Makes keeping an eye on two energetic children that much harder…
  • Confidentally steering my entire family onto the subway, and sitting there for a full 20 minutes before finally twigging we were heading into the depths of Long Island instead of up towards Central Park and the American Museum of Natural History. It added forty minutes to our journey. Wretched New York subway – why can’t they put maps everywhere like the London Underground? Why? Why?

Author: Alex

Hello. Toddling Round New York is my own little blog of our family's experience of moving young kids from London to New York... And of having a baby out here. They are my own baby steps of exploring this incredible city. I lived in five countries in four continents growing up, so you'd think I'd be good at this by now. Here you'll find stories and photographs of our adventures, the highs and the lows of expat parenthood, and some ideas I hope you'll find useful if you're in New York with young kids.

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