Focus on Young People Includes Special Greeters, Audio Guide Tours, Free Activity Guides, and Age-Specific Art Programs
The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers a variety of weekend programs for children and families – featuring special greeters, family Audio Guide tours, free printed guides for independent activities within the Museum, and an extensive range of age-specific art programs conducted by Museum instructors.
Weekend visitors to the Metropolitan Museum with young children are welcomed by one of the Museum's special family greeters. Easily spotted in their bright red aprons, the greeters welcome families in the Great Hall, answer questions about the Museum, hand out printed self-conducted activity guides, and recommend art-related programs that the Museum offers free of charge for children and accompanying adults. Since the fall of 2003, the family greeters are also on duty for the Museum's "Holiday Mondays," when children are home from school.
"Education has been a major imperative since the Museum first opened in 1870," stated Kent Lydecker, Associate Director for Education. "Today, in addition to our ongoing school programs, we conduct hundreds of scheduled weekend activities each year for thousands of children and their adult companions – whether they are tri-state area residents, out-of-town visitors, or visitors from other countries. These include classes that range from 20 to 90 minutes in duration, are geared to a variety of children's interests, and are appropriate for ages three through 12 and beyond. We also offer Spanish-language programs and special programs for children and visitors with disabilities.
"In addition," he continued, "we offer a variety of complimentary self-guided Museum 'hunts' and other independent activities for families. The Museum's Audio Guide, Web site, restaurants, and gift shops are equally family oriented, with special sections and selections for youngsters. Performances for young audiences are also a regular feature in The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Concerts series."
A "MuseumKids" Web Page
Prior to visiting the Museum, families can log onto the MuseumKids page of the Metropolitan Museum's Web site (www.metmuseum.org), which has the direct address http://www.metmuseum.org/explore/museumkids.htm. This easy-to-navigate Web page features a whole array of information and activities for children, under the headings "Things to Do When Visiting" and "For Kids to Try Right Now!" Online visitors can learn more about special family programs; create their own "My Met Calendar," a customized listing of events and subjects of special interest; sign up to receive weekly email notices of upcoming programs and events based on their preferences; or pre-plan an excursion to the Metropolitan Museum. In addition, children can play interactive art games and experience the art firsthand through activities in the "Explore & Learn" section, or learn the answers to such frequently asked questions as "How many pieces of art are in the Museum?" and "What are the colored buttons used for?"
Independent Activities for Families at the Museum
The Museum has produced 10 interactive tours for kids and their adult companions. Among these complimentary printed activity guides and location maps are: "Kids Pick 10 Works of Art" – objects from the Museum's collections that are favorites with kids; "All That Glitters" – featuring works in gold throughout the Museum; and "African Kingship" – a search through the galleries of African art. There's also a self-guided family tour of the famous "Cleopatra's Needle," (the obelisk) that is located just behind the Museum in Central Park. Another nearby attraction is the Parks Department's themed Egyptian playground just north of the Museum at 84th Street and Fifth Avenue.
Within the Museum, the six most popular galleries for children under 12 are Egyptian Art, Arms and Armor, European Paintings, Greek and Roman Art, the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, and Musical Instruments.
Ongoing Weekend Programs
The Museum's ongoing weekend programs designed especially for kids and their adult companions are:
 Start with Art – for youngsters ages three through seven. An hour of storytelling, sketching activities, and other ways of exploring art. A new addition to the Museum's Saturday schedule, this program is also offered on weekday afternoons.
 Look Again! – for ages five through 12. An exploration of the history, meaning, and cross-cultural connections of works of art in the Museum through conversation and sketching, offered on Saturdays and Sundays. About once a month the 90-minute program is enhanced by a live performance – featuring musicians, dancers, actors, or a storyteller – related to the day's topic.
 Hello, Met – for ages five through 12. A stimulating introduction to the Museum and its encyclopedic collections for new and first-time visitors through discussion and sketching of some of its masterpieces, sometimes preceded by a short film, offered on Sunday afternoons.
 Art Evenings for Families – for ages six through 12. An encounter with the Museum's collections through conversation and sketching, offered on Saturdays, 6:00-7:00 p.m. About once a month this program also features a performance segment.
 The Charles H. Tally Lecture Series for Families – for ages six through 12. An exploration of the Museum's collections through discussions and sketching in various galleries, offered on Fridays, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Special Family Programs
Supplementing the Look Again! morning programs is a once-monthly series called How Did They Do That? These 20-minute sessions that run from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, demonstrate, through the handling of tools and materials, how a particular work of art was created. Recent examples include A Suit of Armor: How Did They Do That?, The Little Dancer: How Did They Do That?, Stained Glass: How Did They Do That?, and The Temple of Dendur: How Did They Do That?
Classes for Individual Junior and Senior High School Students
The Metropolitan Museum also offers various weekend and weekday programs for individual junior high school students. Drawing on the Museum's collections for focus and inspiration, these classes enable students to learn about art through active participation in drawing, studio projects, and the development of technical skill. Advance registration is the only requirement for participation. For further information, call (212) 396-5121.
A series of classes devoted to understanding art and exploring the Metropolitan Museum are offered on weekends and weekdays for individual senior high school students. Some classes feature the exploration of a single masterpiece from the Museum's collections through looking and discussion, others feature experimentation with perspective, figure, and still-life drawing in the galleries to enhance understanding of works of art. Advance registration is the only requirement for participation. For further information, call (212) 650-2832.
For Spanish-speaking families, the Museum offers El Primer Contacto con el Arte on Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Designed for ages six through 12, the programs feature discussion and sketching activities, focusing on a particular theme and a different area of the Museum each week. In addition, the following Metropolitan Museum activity guides are available free of charge in Spanish: Caras y Máscaras un Rastreo; Esfinge o Finge? Un Rastreo; and La vida en Egipto de lo pequeño á lo grande. For further information, call (212) 650-2833.
Family Programs at The Cloisters
At The Cloisters, the branch of the Metropolitan Museum devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe, located in upper Manhattan, special gallery tours and art-making activities for children ages four through 12 and their adult companions are offered on select Saturdays. For further information, call (212) 650-2280.
Programs for Young Visitors with Disabilities
A variety of programs and services for young visitors with disabilities are available at all times. For those with visual impairments the Museum offers two Touch Tours: In Touch with Ancient Egypt, which may be taken by appointment with a guide or independently, with the use of a large print or Braille booklet, and American Architecture and Decorative Arts, available as a guided tour featuring American objects from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The Touch Collection, made up of a wide range of works from the Museum's permanent collections supplemented with casts and high-quality reproductions, is available by appointment. Verbal Imaging Tours are also offered, in which Museum guides describe in great detail paintings, sculpture, stained glass, textiles, and jewelry from the Museum's permanent collections, as well as special exhibitions. An innovative new book, Art & The Alphabet: A Tactile Experience, combines color reproductions, large print, Braille, and tactile pictures. The book introduces masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art's collections to children with visual impairments and their families, friends and teachers. Some copies will be available free of charge to qualifying schools and organizations. For further information or to register for any of these programs call (212) 879-5500, ext. 3561.
For families with Deaf members the Museum offers Sign Language interpretation of one family program each month. These drop-in programs are free with Museum admission. Reservations are not required. Sign Language interpretation can be requested for other Museum programs. For further information, call (212) 879-5500, ext. 3561, or TTY (212)-570-3828.
The Metropolitan Museum also provides complimentary Audio Guides for visitors with visual or hearing impairments on request at the Audio Guide desk in the Great Hall. For people who have hearing aids, neck loops are available for use with Audio Guides. Audio Guide scripts in standard and large print are also available on request.
For children and adults with developmental disabilities and accompanying family members or friends, the Museum offers Discoveries, a series of Sunday workshops focusing on a particular theme. Each workshop consists of a gallery tour incorporating creative art activities. These programs are free of charge, but advance reservations are necessary. For further information, call (212) 650-2304.
The galleries of The Metropolitan Museum of Art are wheelchair accessible. Wheelchair users should enter the Museum through the 81st Street entrance.
Special Family Audio Guide Tour
The Museum's Family Audio Guide, ideal for children ages six through 12 and their families, includes commentary on more than 100 works of art for younger visitors. Families can proceed at their own pace, listen in any order they choose, and keep the guide for the duration of their visit. In the galleries, families look next to works of art for audio stop labels beginning with the letter "F" and press the corresponding number on the audio player. Featured works are in the galleries of The American Wing, Arms and Armor, Ancient Near Eastern Art; Islamic Art, Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, Asian art (including Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and South and Southeast Asian Art), Egyptian Art, European Painting, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, Medieval Art; Modern Art, and Musical Instruments. The Audio Guide is priced at $6.00 for the general public, $5.00 for Metropolitan Museum members, and $4.00 for children under 12. Family Audio Guide maps are available free of charge at the Audio Guide desk in the Great Hall. The Audio Guide program is sponsored by Bloomberg.
Family-friendly Dining at the Metropolitan Museum
Every restaurant at the Museum welcomes children, but "the cafeteria", which opened in the summer of 2003, is particularly family friendly. Booster seats and high chairs are provided, and the menu features a selection of five special meals for children under 12 years of age – chicken fingers, pizza, pasta, tossed salad, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, plus whole fruit and milk or juice – priced at $4.95 each and served in a unique, three-dimensional tray, designed to look like a New York City taxi.
A Catalogue Just for Kids
The special Children's Shop located on the second floor of the Museum is a noted resource for high-quality items for kids of all ages – including art activity kits, art supplies, stuffed toys, kids' jewelry, puppets, puzzles, games, play figures, books, CDs and videos. There's also a MetKids catalogue that offers an exciting array of products designed to help children of all ages learn, develop skills, and grow. Many of the items are based on works in the Museum's collections, opening a door to the world of art, ancient cultures, history, music, and even the Museum itself; others expand on the Museum's educational and outreach programs; and all are intended to help children discover their own creativity, individuality, and power of imagination.
Off-Site Programs for Family Groups
The Metropolitan Museum also presents slide talks accompanied by art and writing workshops to groups of families and young people in after-school programs, libraries, and community centers throughout New York City. This program, called Meet the Met: The Offsite Program for Families and Young People, begins on January 5, 2004. These events are free and are offered in many languages. Sign Language interpretation can also be provided. For further information, call (212) 396-5051.
Family programs are free with Museum admission. All materials are provided, and registration is not required unless otherwise noted. The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers a Dual/Family Membership for $175.00 that includes free admission for one year for two adults and children of these members through the age of 16 to the Museum, The Cloisters, and all special exhibitions, as well as a discount of 10% on Museum merchandise, announcements of exclusive subscription programs for children, members-only lectures and preview invitations, and summer weekend use of the Trustees Dining Room.
Family programs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art are supported by: Uris Brothers Foundation Endowment, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Bloomberg, Mr. and Mrs. Marvin H. Schein, May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, Inc., Pat and John Rosenwald Fund, The Aronson Family Foundation, Staten Island Advance, The Roberta & Allan Weissglass Foundation, Inc., The Rotary Foundation of New York, and The Goodman Memorial Foundation.
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