Free admission (all visitors, all hours)

Free for children under 1.

From a shark’s jawbone to musical instruments from around the world, Brooklyn Children’s Museum is home to a permanent collection of 30,000 objects. While it is rare for a children’s museum to have a permanent collection, the use of artifacts in exhibitions and programming has been central to the museum’s educational mission since its creation in 1899. Over the past century, its collection has continued to grow through generous donations, bequests, and occasional purchases.

Objects in the gallery change frequently to expose visitors to the collection’s wide range of cultural artifacts (man-made objects, both ancient and modern, including sculptures, masks, and dolls, as well as everyday household and personal items, such as baskets and combs) and natural science specimens (including minerals, fossils, and mounted birds, mammals, and insects).

Interactive displays challenge visitors to explore objects in new ways, such as using only sense of touch to identify a hidden artifact. Children hunt for object details to solve a six-sided photo puzzle and play a specimen matching game, giving clues to help a partner identify the right rock from a group of minerals.

Families get an up-close look at how different artifacts are made and can become involved in the design process themselves. Children pilot a boat, string beads, and create patterns with decorative tiles, all inspired by cultural artifacts from the collection. At drawing stations throughout the exhibition, young artists can sketch favorite objects and share their artwork on the gallery display board.

New role-playing areas invite visitors to step into an object’s world. Children pretend to glide down the Amazon behind a protective wooden figurehead from Brazil, called acarranca in Portuguese. An imaginary collector’s “cabinet of wonders” demonstrates how curators research and organize their objects. Visitors become curators and design their own exhibition alongside the collector’s far-out finds—including an 8-foot-tall Asian elephant skeleton!