Free Westchester Museums: These Art & Cultural Museums In and Near Westchester are Free for Kids

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One of the most inspiring winter activities for families in Westchester is a trip to a local museum. When the temperatures plummet and there’s no snow for sledding, bundle up and head to one of Westchester’s incredible kid-friendly museums. Many of the Westchester museums that closed during the pandemic have since re-opened their doors. And here’s a tip: Some of the best Westchester museums are free for kids. Indulge your cultural curiosity and spend some time enlightening the kids at these free Westchester museums. 

Free Art Museums for Kids

The Hudson Valley MOCA in Peekskill has 12,000-square-feet of exhibit space for multiple exhibits that often include emerging local talent. Their artist-in-residence program gives artists the opportunity to create long-term installations, and the museum hosts many educational programs like lectures and special events. The museum is open Thursdays and Saturdays, 11 am – 5 pm, and is free for kids 8 and younger. 

The Neuberger Museum of Art, housed in a Philip Johnson-designed building at Purchase College, showcases the work of modern, contemporary and African artists including Willem de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Helen Frankenthaler, Marsden Hartley, Hans Hofmann, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and David Smith. It’s open Wednesday – Sunday, 12-5 pm, and is currently free for both adults and children. If you can’t make it to Purchase, the museum also offers free online art educational videos for kids.

The Pelham Art Center, which offers art classes for kids and adults, exhibits the work of local, national and international artists in painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, film, installation and folk arts. Aspiring young artists should see the remarkable current exhibit, “Shadows,” which explores the idea of visibility with works that incorporate the physical and psychological dimensions of shadows. The gallery, open Monday – Friday, 10 am – 5 pm; Saturday 10 am – 4 pm, is free to both adults and kids.

The Katonah Art Museum presents visual works across a spectrum of artistic disciplines, cultures, and historical periods with three to four major exhibitions per year. They also host a family learning center where children can participate in hands-on projects. Currently, the museum is exhibiting nearly 350 works by local high school seniors in their 39th annual “Young Artists 2022” exhibit — which the student artists also helped publicize, curate, and install. This exhibit is free until Feb. 27 and the Katonah Art Museum is always free to kids under 12.

Free Cultural Museums for Kids

The Bruce Museum, just a short hop over the Connecticut border in Greenwich, highlights art, science, and natural history, and offers a variety of educational programs for all ages. The current (and permanent) exhibit is about natural cycles, like tectonic plates, ocean tides and the daily patterns of animals. Seven galleries focus on this region’s geology, paleontology, Ice Age, marine ecosystems, terrestrial ecosystems, and our own backyards. At the Natural Science Lab, halfway through the exhibit, kids can engage in hands-on activities. The museum (open Tuesday – Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm) is currently “pay as your wish” while under construction, and always free to visitors on Tuesdays. 

The Hudson River Museum in Yonkers is home to an incredible collection of American art — from nineteenth-century Hudson River School paintings to contemporary art installations — as well as Glenview, a 19th century Hudson River home; the Hudson Riverama, a 2,500-square-foot environmental teaching gallery; and a planetarium. The current exhibit, “The World of Frida” (Feb. 4- May 22), celebrates the culture, style and persona of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo with works by more than 75 national and international artists. Some of the works feature Frida Kahlo as subject and some are inspired by her life and art, her garden, Mexican culture and fashion, vibrant colors and surrealism. Open Thursday – Sunday, 12–5 pm. Children under 3 are free (and kids under 18 are $4).

It’s not always easy to drag your kids to a museum, but these free opportunities to expose your kids to art, culture and history are invaluable — and don’t come along all that often.