Silk Road Exhibit for Kids & Families NYC
Yesterday, I went to a press preview of the new exhibit at The American Museum of Natural History. Our thoughts for families:
- Educator Guide
Before you go, download and review the educator guide. It’s a bit dense but will help you sculpt the trip with younger kids.
The museum’s curators are definitely moving in the right direction. It’s more interactive and kidfriendly than any of the non-animal ones we’ve seen before (e.g. excluding butterflies, frogs). Interactive elements include:
- Making music by adding different instrument sounds together.
- Using an astrolabe (see photo) and the stars to tell time
- Trying to discern mystery smells typical of scents available for purchase on the Silk Road.
- A large video retelling (including seating area) of three popular folktales kids would have heard who lived along the silk route.
- Passports imprinted along the way (as they go from “city” to city) with iconic symbols like camels
- On Sundays, musicians from The Silk Road project (brought together by Yo-Yo Ma) will perform
- And my favorite: an interactive map charting different routes along the map with different variables to manipulate (see image above)
- There are also some stationary objects that seemed to delight kids including:
- A trio of life-size model caravan camels carrying goods for trade
- A model boat that would have sailed around the route.
- Seeing how silk is made through a video and actual cocoons.
- Silk Road Exhibit Website
We were really impressed with the website kids can check out before the exhibit. With a little help from adults, this will really set the tone and give a more profound experience at the exhibit itself.
On the negative side, of course there is the obligatory shop you need to get through at the end of the exhibit, and they could really use to get a parent as an advisor to their exhibits to kick it up a notch for kid-friendliness.
For example, I would have loved a section at the very start with a table, some crafts and a coloring book that tells the story of the silk route at a 9 or younger reading level. And I would LOVE if they created some kid audio tours for these as they do for Ellis Island and art museums.