Programs are available Monday through Friday at 10:00 am and 12:30 pm. School Tours are 90 minutes long and culminate in a hands-on activity. The cost is $125 for a maximum of 35 children and 5 adults. Schools from School District 4 receive a fee waiver. The Museum of the City of New York is a New York City Department of Education vendor (vendor number MUS015).

City as Canvas: Graffiti Art from the Martin Wong Collection

60 Minute Guided Tour for Grades 4-12
During a gallery tour of the City As Canvas exhibition, students will view highlights from the Museum's rich collection of 1970s and 80s graffiti art in New York. By analyzing the drawings, paintings, photographs and blackbooks collected by Martin Wong, students will learn about New York City artists known as "writers", like Keith Haring, Lady Pink, Lee Quiñones, and Daze, and the historical context in which their work was created. Students will be able to elaborate on the multiple perspectives surrounding street art, discuss the various styles represented, and will respond creatively to the pieces by drafting their own sketches.

Reading Buildings for Grades 1-4, Available Spring 2014

Become a secret agent team as you explore the City Museum’s building during this hands-on scavenger hunt. Discover the columns, pediments, lintels, and other special details that were used to create the architectural style of this Colonial Revival landmark. During the program, students will use an architectural outline of the Museum to fill in with their own drawings of the building’s features.

Taking a Stand: History of Social Activism in New York

Discover how New Yorkers have stood up for what they believe in and fought for change over the past 350 years. Students will explore the Activist New York exhibition, which is full of photographs, buttons, pamphlets, signs, and banners, to learn about a variety of topics, including abolition, suffrage, immigration, civil rights, and more. Participants will have the opportunity to create a badge championing a change they want to make that addresses an issue facing New Yorkers today.

Amazing Arches: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces (opening March 2014)

for Grades 4-7

From Ellis Island’s Registry Hall to Grand Central Station, Rafael Guastavino, Sr., and Rafael Guastavino, Jr., created vaulted ceilings and archways seen in many civic and public buildings from the late 19th and early 20th century. Students will learn about the Guastavinos’ extraordinary designs and techniques, which combine engineering strength and architectural beauty. During the program, students will construct an arch to understand the importance of the structure and how it transfers weight in buildings and bridges throughout New York City.

Program materials for Amazing Arches: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces are provided by The Members of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Union Local 1-NY.

Who Is New York? Mapping Immigration Then and Now for Grades 4-8

New York became the quintessential immigrant city in the early 20th century, but today even more immigrants live here than a hundred years ago – the largest number in the city’s history. Following a viewing of Timescapes, a 22-minute multimedia documentary on the city’s history, students will use the history of early 20th-century mass immigration as a springboard to discuss immigration today, examining maps, charts, and census data to learn where immigrant groups come from and where they settle. Students will leave knowing more about how immigration has impacted each of the city’s boroughs and how the city’s character has been shaped by diversity and transformation over time.

Picturing New York City History: Highlights of the Museum

60 Minute Guided Exploration for Grades 2–12

Experience the art and artifacts displayed in the Museum’s latest exhibitions. The interactive tours will be arranged according to grade level with opportunities for students to sketch or write their reflections during the experience. Teachers should specify if they wish to include a viewing of Timescapes.

Upcoming temporary exhibitions at the City Museum include: Picturing Central Park: Paintings by Janet Ruttenberg (opening September 2013), I Have Seen the Future: Norman Bel Geddes Designs America (opening October 2013), Gilded New York (opening November 2013), City as Canvas: Graffiti Art from the Martin Wong Collection (opening February 2014), and Palaces for the People: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces (opening March 2014). Click here to learn more about our upcoming exhibitions.

History Lab Programs

Explore New York’s history in the Museum’s classrooms through our hands-on History Lab Programs. In addition to the classroom-based activities, teachers may request a 20-minute addition to any History Lab program. During this additional time, students will have a guided visit to a Museum exhibition currently on view.

The Grid: Urban Planning in New York City for Grades K-5

Participants will learn about the origins and evolution of Manhattan’s street grid system and how it changed over time.  Topics will include an introduction to concepts of city planning, including zoning and land use regulations that impact the makeup of our city’s neighborhoods. Afterwards, the group will construct a model neighborhood that conforms to this 200-year-old plan.

Getting Around: How Transportation Shaped the City for Grades 2-5

From horsedrawn omnibuses to electric cars, transportation in New York City has undergone many changes from the 1800s to present day. Using images that vividly document these changes, students will create a pictorial timeline of the evolution of transportation in the city, including their own ideas for future innovations that could include natural gas or hybrid vehicles.

Mannahatta: The Lenape and the Land for Grades 2-5

Students will learn about the Lenape Native Americans who called their island “Mannahatta.” Drawing on the context of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Mannahatta Project, which meticulously reconstructed the natural landscape of Manhattan in 1609, the students will uses maps, images, and Native American objects to explore the relationship between the Lenape people and their surrounding habitat. At the conclusion of the session, students will create a storyboard tracing the use of the island’s resources from their natural state in the environment to how the Lenape used them.

New York City Bridges for Grades 2-6

New York City is an archipelago—a cluster of islands—that is connected by bridges and tunnels. Students will explore the many types of bridges in the city—beam, truss, steel arch, pivot, and suspension—that help us travel to, from, and among the five boroughs. Each student will then take on the role of an engineer to design and build models of these bridges.

Planning Urban Places and Spaces for Grades 2-5 ($200 for all sessions)

This three-session program uses the Museum’s neighborhood to introduce students to fundamental concepts in urban planning and design, such as the designation of public and private space and the role of individuals in shaping the city. Students will explore East Harlem and use maps and plans to discuss zoning and land use, paying attention to the shape, size, and function of buildings and open spaces. As a culminating activity, students will create a three-dimensional model of a New York City block.

Life in New Amsterdam for Grades 2-6

Visit New Amsterdam, the Dutch colony that was established as a trading post in the early 17th century. Using a 3D scale model of the Castello Plan measuring 11 x 12 feet, along with and objects, maps, and images, students will learn the history behind Lower Manhattan street names and "meet" individuals who lived and worked on these New Amsterdam streets. The class will create a map of New Amsterdam to represent these important people and places from the early 1600s.

Self-guided Visits

Teachers may choose to bring their students to the Museum on their own, without being led by a Museum educator. When making a reservation for a self-guided visit, teachers will be asked to decide which exhibitions they are interested in visiting and if they wish to view Timescapes, an engrossing 22-minute multimedia experience, that traces the growth of New York City from a settlement of a few hundred Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans to its present status as one of the world’s great cities. Visits typically take 60 to 90 minutes and groups larger than 35 must be separated into smaller groups, each escorted by an adult chaperone.

Preparing for Your Visit

School tours are content-rich, hands-on experiences that support the New York State social studies standards and align with the Common Core Standards. Students explore primary sources through inquiry-based discussion and activities facilitated by museum educators. All tours can be modified for groups with special needs.

School tours are 90 minutes long and include a hands-on component. The cost is $125 for a maximum of 35 children and 5 adults. Schools from School District 4 receive a fee waiver. All groups are required to pay a $50 non-refundable deposit by credit card at the time of confirmation.

School tours are offered Monday through Friday at 10:00 am, 12:30 pm, or during afterschool hours from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Tours must be scheduled at least two weeks prior to the visit. Payment must be received at least one week prior to the visit. Tours will be shortened for late arrivals. Please arrive no earlier than 10 minutes before the scheduled visit.

One chaperone must accompany every group of 10 students; a maximum of five chaperones may accompany each class.

Request a Reservation

Please note that submitting a request for a visit is not a confirmation of your reservation.

  • Send an email to schoolprograms@mcny.org. You will receive an automated response asking for you to complete your request.
  • We require scheduling at least two weeks in advance.
  • Payment is required at least one week in advance.
  • Requests will processed in the order received.
  • You will receive a confirmation letter by email once the visit is scheduled.
  • Your email address will be added to our e-newsletter.