10 New York Art Shows Your Kids Will Love This Summer

For parents or guardians of small children, going to see art—and getting kids interested in art—can be a daunting task. But certain shows, including several across New York this summer, are tailor-made for audiences of all ages.

Below, we share a selection of art to see this July and August, from smartly curated outdoor shows to exhibitions of leading contemporary artists and engaging public art installations—all of which wee audiences will love.


Carsten Höller at Gagosian

Jun. 20–Sept. 1 • 555 West 24th Street

  • Artwork © Carsten Höller. Photo by Rob McKeever. Courtesy of Gagosian.

    Artwork © Carsten Höller. Photo by Rob McKeever. Courtesy of Gagosian.

Artwork © Carsten Höller. Photography by Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian.
Artwork © Carsten Höller. Photography by Kelsey Tyler. Courtesy Gagosian.
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True to form for Höller, this show has the feel of a funhouse, with revolving, mirrored doors and giant, flying mushrooms that are both enchanting and interactive. One room holds Dice(White Body, Black Dots) (2014), a giant, fibreglass die that, like a piece of a playground equipment, is meant for kids to climb into and through.



Derek Fordjour at Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling

July 27, 2017–Jan. 14, 2018 • 898 St. Nicholas Avenue

  • Derek Fordjour, Figure with Horn, 2017. Courtesy of Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling.

    Derek Fordjour, Figure with Horn, 2017. Courtesy of Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling.

  • Derek Fordjour, What will you do to help us win?, 2017. Courtesy of Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling.

    Derek Fordjour, What will you do to help us win?, 2017. Courtesy of Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling.

Fordjour envelops viewers in an environment inspired by his own upbringing in Memphis, with works created during his residency at the museum over the past year. The show begins with a tunnel-like entrance with marquee lights and is filled with paintings and multimedia works that conjure the curiosity and wonder of childhood.



Sheila Hicks and “Mutations” at the High Line

Jun. 2017–Mar. 2018; Apr. 2017–Mar. 2018 • The High Line

  • Sheila Hicks, Hop, Skip, Jump, and Fly: Escape From Gravity, 2017. A High Line Commission. Photo by Timothy Schenck. Courtesy of Friends of the High Line.

    Sheila Hicks, Hop, Skip, Jump, and Fly: Escape From Gravity, 2017. A High Line Commission. Photo by Timothy Schenck. Courtesy of Friends of the High Line.

High Line visitors should look out for this newly minted Hicks installation, a snaking, multi-colored fiber construction that runs for 200 meters. It’s on view in conjunction with the group exhibition “Mutations,” which reflects on the increasing role of technology among nature and culture. Stroll along the length of the elevated railway and seek out works by 12 esteemed young artists, including Marguerite Humeau, Dora Budor, Guan Xiao, Jon Rafman, and Max Hooper Schneider.



“Maker, Maker” at the Children’s Museum of the Arts

Jun. 8–Sep. 10 • 103 Charlton Street

  • Installation view of “Maker, Maker.” Courtesy of the Children’s Museum of the Arts and Will Ellis.

    Installation view of “Maker, Maker.” Courtesy of the Children’s Museum of the Arts and Will Ellis.

Derrick Adams, Pilot #2, 2014, Courtesy of Tilton Gallery.
Installation view of Rebecca Morgan's Face Jugs, Courtesy of Children's Museum of the Arts and Will Ellis.
Installation view of The Cartoon Plant Sculptures by Adam Frezza and Terri Chiao, Courtesy of Children's Museum of the Arts and Will Ellis.
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Responding to contemporary artists’ affinities for D.I.Y. techniques—like ceramics, macramé, and woodworking, among others—this timely show explores the intersections and increasingly overlapping spheres of fine art and craft. Curators Paul Laster and Renée Riccardo have wrangled a dynamic and vibrant selection of work by contemporary artists, from collages by Derrick Adams to the playful, crocheted wall-hangings of Caroline Wells Chandler.



Nari Ward at Socrates Sculpture Park

Apr. 29–Sep. 4 • 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City

  • Nari Ward, Scapegoat, 2017. Courtesy of the artist; Socrates Sculpture Park; Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong; and Galleria Continua.

    Nari Ward, Scapegoat, 2017. Courtesy of the artist; Socrates Sculpture Park; Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong; and Galleria Continua.

Nari Ward, (left) Royal One, G.O.A.T and (right) Royal Too, G.O.A.T. Courtesy the artist; Socrates Sculpture Park; Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong; and Galleria Continua, San Gimignano / Beijing / Les Moulins / Habana. Photo by Nicholas Knight Studio.
Nari Ward, Scapegoat, 2017. Courtesy the artist; Socrates Sculpture Park; Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong; and Galleria Continua, San Gimignano / Beijing / Les Moulins / Habana.
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Socrates’s riverside grounds are peppered with a herd of goats—Ward’s concrete-cast sculptures that play on the abbreviation G.O.A.T. (“greatest of all time”). Topped with a variety of everyday materials—shoes, electrical cords, hose, caution tape, and steel rods—the sculptures encourage a cross-park scavenger hunt to find them all. They’re dwarfed by another, even more epic, work: a giant goat head that’s become an impromptu jungle gym of sorts.



“PS Art 2017” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jun. 13–Oct. 29 • 1000 Fifth Avenue

  • Self as Alexander, Delia Cadman, Grade 12, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, Manhattan.

    Self as Alexander, Delia Cadman, Grade 12, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, Manhattan.

  • Majic, Tamia Reyes, Grade 12, Art and Design High School, Manhattan.

    Majic, Tamia Reyes, Grade 12, Art and Design High School, Manhattan.

A visit to the Met this summer should include a spin through the museum’s 10th annual show of work by New York City public school students, from pre-kindergarteners through 12th graders. A spin through this selection of over 100 paintings, sculptures, and photographs may well inspire you and your children to go home and make some work of your own.



Heather Hart at Storm King Art Center

May 13–Nov. 26 • 1 Museum Road, New Windsor, NY

  • Heather Hart, Oracle of Lacuna, 2017. © Heather Hart. Photo by Jerry L. Thompson. Courtesy of the artist.

    Heather Hart, Oracle of Lacuna, 2017. © Heather Hart. Photo by Jerry L. Thompson. Courtesy of the artist.

New this year to Storm King’s beloved, sculpture-speckled sprawl is Hart’s sculptural work, The Oracle of Lacuna—what appears to be a traditional, country-style home that’s been submerged in the Earth, save for its roof, which viewers can venture through. The piece will host a programming series to discuss and dissect the history of the Hudson Valley region. That particular conversation might be a bit too complex for kids, but child-friendly workshops are held at Storm King on Sundays at 1 p.m., with activities including artmaking and nature walks.



Hélio Oiticica and Alexander Calder at the Whitney Museum of American Art

Jul. 14–Oct. 1; Jun. 9–Oct. 23 • 99 Gansevoort Street

  • Hélio Oiticica, P15 Parangolé Cape 11, I Embody Revolt, worn by Nildo of Mangueira, 1967. Courtesy of César and Claudio Oiticica. Photo by Claudio Oiticica.

    Hélio Oiticica, P15 Parangolé Cape 11, I Embody Revolt, worn by Nildo of Mangueira, 1967. Courtesy of César and Claudio Oiticica. Photo by Claudio Oiticica.

  • Hélio Oiticica, PN1 Penetrable, 1960. Courtesy of César and Claudio Oiticica. Photo by César Oiticica Filho.

    Hélio Oiticica, PN1 Penetrable, 1960. Courtesy of César and Claudio Oiticica. Photo by César Oiticica Filho.

In addition to making a trip through the ever-entertaining mobiles of Calder—which are being shown in motion, as the artist intended—be sure to check out the museum’s new exhibition, “Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium.” The legendary Brazilian artist Oiticica is known for interactive works that encourage an active, at times theatrical, experience of art. Some of his best-known works, parangolés, are capes that were originally meant to be worn while dancing (though that’s unfortunately not the case in the show), and the survey also includes large-scale environments filled with sand, plants, and tent-like shelters.



Anish Kapoor at Brooklyn Bridge Park

May 3–Sep. 10 • Pier 1, Brooklyn Bridge Park

  • Anish Kapoor, Descension, 2014. Photo by James Ewing, Public Art Fund, NY. © Anish Kapoor, 2017.

    Anish Kapoor, Descension, 2014. Photo by James Ewing, Public Art Fund, NY. © Anish Kapoor, 2017.

Amid lush lawns and playgrounds, Kapoor’s Descension (2014) has transformed the northernmost reaches of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Recently installed at Versailles, the piece (presented by Public Art Fund) puts typical fountains or reflecting pools to shame: It’s a 26-foot-wide whirlpool of dark water that appears to swirl endlessly into the depths of the Earth.



Leo Villareal at Pace

May 4–Aug. 11 • 537 West 24th Street

Villareal’s mesmerizing works are a great opportunity for a lively visit with your kids, as lights and animations are deployed on unpredictable loops, and some, according to visitors’ movements. Take some time to ogle the show’s centerpiece: a shimmering waterfall of light and metal that twinkles according to the people in its presence.


—Casey Lesser