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Brooklyn Children’s Museum, A Place That Matters

brooklyn childrens museum front kids

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, a mainstay in the Crown Heights neighborhood for over 100 years, was the first museum in the United States established specifically for kids. The revolutionary museum, located at 145 Brooklyn Avenue, was nominated to the Census of Places that Matter for its long-standing commitment to promoting curiosity and exploration by creating fun-filled learning experiences for generations of young New Yorkers.

In 1899, the founders of the museum carved out a unique place for kids when they pioneered the idea that learning can be fun, and that museums don’t have to be boring. From its first days to the present, the permanent collection and exhibits have encouraged hands-on, participatory experiences with natural history specimens and cultural artifacts. In today’s museum, one especially popular exhibit, World Brooklyn, is made up of a variety of storefronts and street features that allow kids to step into the role of grocer, shopper, baker or bus driver on a Brooklyn-inspired street scaled for kids.

The museum achieved another first in 2008, when its new building was recognized as New York’s first LEED-certified museum. The new “green” building, designed by architect Rafael Viñoly boasts sustainable features such as solar panels, bamboo flooring and geothermal heating and cooling. In keeping with the museum’s educational mission, the new building’s green technologies have been put to use as hands-on learning tools, exposing the sustainable systems to museum visitors – young and grown, alike.

While there is no doubt that this groundbreaking institution has been a cherished cultural asset for the children of New York, its influence reaches well beyond the city. As Anna Billings Gallup, the first Curator-in-Chief put it in 1926, “The children’s museum idea is Brooklyn’s gift to the world.”