First Children’s Museum in the Bronx

By Brittany Aubain

For decades, Bronxites had to look beyond the borough to find affordable activities fit for the whole family. Now, after decades of preparation, the Bronx opened its first children’s museum.

What began as a mobile van that traveled through different neighborhoods in the borough is now a whirlwind of play and learning for children in the South Bronx.

At only $8 a ticket, the 13,000-square-foot permanent space encourages children and their families to engage and learn through dramatic role play, art, and scientific exploration.

“The children inspired us,” says Carla Precht, founding executive director of the Bronx Children’s Museum. “The fact that the Bronx has not had its own children’s museum facility or equivalent that’s affordable and can provide children and their families and their teachers with enrichment.”

Throughout the museum are several exhibits inspired by different elements of the Bronx. The Waterways exhibit pays tribute to the Bronx River and Orchard Beach. The Block exhibit is the museum’s miniature barrio, complete with a farm stand and bodega.

Commissioner of NYC Parks Sue Donoghue said, “This is such a critical space for the kids of the Bronx to learn about and reflect and to show their history and to have a safe space to come to that’s just filled with all kinds of examples of what makes the Bronx so great.”

At the ceremonial ribbon-cutting, elected officials like former Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and District 17 Councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr. reminisced about their childhoods and how they had playgrounds and handball courts. Yet, they never had anything this immersive and influential. For them, they said, just having a small hand in the funding process is an “honor.”

The museum also introduced “Sonia’s Corner,” a section that pays tribute to two Bronx trailblazers, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and actress best known for her work on Sesame Street, Sonia Manzano. This corner in the museum serves more as a “cool down” station for families as the living-room-style section is lined with children’s books written by both Manzano and Sotomayor.

“This is a ‘thank you’ to us for our participation with the museum. They didn’t have to do this. I’m very touched, very moved,” said Manzano.

Manzano says she hopes that the children who come to the museum and read her books see representations of themselves. As someone who never saw Latino representation, she says she continues to make a change for the next generation, and this corner is just another step along the way.

“I hope the kids see, ‘Oh! That’s me!’ or, ‘I can do that.’,” Manzano said. “Once they see that they’re in a book and I wrote the book, they will know that they can do the same things.”

Tickets are available by reservation.

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