National Museum of the American Indian with Kids

Looking for a free activity in lower Manhattan? You finished walking around the financial district. You hit up Battery Park City, and you still have to wait for your ferry to the Statue of Liberty? You got stuck in the rain and need a few minutes to recuperate. You are so, so hot and just need a few minutes in the air conditioning and a restroom. Or maybe you are a huge history buff. You want to learn more about Native American culture and view a really nice selection of artifacts. Then this is for you! Kid friendly to boot.

A Free Museum in New York City

Now that the MET is charging admission for visitors to New York City, we have one less “free” museum option in town. Moreover, a lot of visitors don’t know that many museums actually have suggested admission (meaning you can ask to pay less). Or, more likely, that can’t plan around free admission days because they are not in town long enough.

Good news for you, folks! The National Museum of the American Indian, is part of the Smithsonian institution. Like many museums in Washington, D.C. it does not charge admission, meaning it is truly free!

National Museum of the American Indian

One of our new favorite places to go with the kids, is the National Museum of the American Indian. For all of the reasons mentioned above, it’s convenient location, free admission and small but sufficient collection, it’s a great place to take kids.

Head up the stairs, or look for the handicap entrance on the right side, to go in with your stroller. The museum is fully accessible. Use the elevator to go up to the main level.

The Museum is housed in the former Alexander Hamilton US Customs House.

The Main Exhibits

Infinity of Nations, is the name of their main exhibit, straight ahead as you come in. It shows a variety of artifacts from the various indigenous nations, from clothes to tools, pottery and more. It is not a very large exhibit making it great for keeping the kids’ interest.

Temporary Exhibit – Taino Culture

The other main exhibit on view is super interesting, showcasing the influence of Taino Culture. The Taino are the indigenous people of the Carribean. Many of our words in English and Spanish were influenced by their language!

In addition to more artifacts, we loved the graphics and models make for this exhibit.

Children’s Area

On the lower level, there is one area for kids with several interactive displays. These are targeted to Elementary students. You may see school groups visiting if you come in the morning hours.

The kids showed some interest and I think it would be fun to come back when they are a little older to revisit more deeply!

Across the hall you’ll find a big hall with traditional Native American clothing on display and a video presentation.

Music Class for Kids (Canceled)

The museum is currently hosting a Taino music class for toddlers that was our main event. We started off our visit heading straight into music class! The Taino are American Indians indigenous to the Carribean. So the Taino music class had a great beat and variety of musical instruments for the kids to play! They loved it!

All in all it was a good time! I definitely recommend visiting if you are already in lower Manhattan visiting Bowling Green or Battery Park and need a reprieve from the cold or heat!

For more museums and adventures in New York City with kids, check out our bucket list!