Part art museum with its rotating exhibits and permanent collection of Hudson River School paintings, and part exploration of the Hudson River through history and science exhibits, the Hudson River Museum located in Trevor Park in Yonkers, documents our ever-complicated and fascinating relationship to the Hudson River.
Mansion and Museum
The Hudson River Museum’s history is as long and winding as the river it celebrates. Originally housed inside Glenview Mansion in 1876, the museum’s modern counterpart was added in 1969 and is connected via a short passageway that makes time travel seem infinitely more possible.
On our visit, my kids loved exploring the Mansion which features restored and period pieces and a giant elaborate dollhouse that can take hours to explore. Here, the old and new is always in striking contrast as are the stunning river views seen from every vantage point.
And while the Hudson River Museum is not designed specifically for kids, there is no shortage of spaces and experiences that will make this a treat for families with kids of all ages.
What to See
Kids and adults flock to Red Grooms’ permanent mixed-media installation, “Bookstore.” The dazzling exhibit (restored by Tom Burckhardt in 2008) blooms in full scale 3-D affect, showing a life-size replica of a bookstore and offering a small slice of old New York right here in Westchester. Kids can walk through and experience life in old New York and renew their love of reading. While it addresses themes of art and commerce, the exhibit is a longtime favorite, blending two beloved institutions, the Isaac Mendoza Book Company and the Pierpont Morgan Library.
Even more exciting in October 2016, the Museum unveiled a completely new installation of a mythical artist’s studio, “FULL STOP” by Tom Burckhardt. Kids can walk through the studio and experience the work of artists such as Jackson Pollock or Jasper Johns’s Savarin coffee can in a completely new way.
Equally appealing to families is the hands-on aspect of the museum presented in weekend family art workshops. Held every weekend and also on school holidays from 1 to 4 p.m., kids can engage in a variety of science and art workshops led by capable and friendly junior docents who make sure there are plenty of art supplies and offer thoughtful instruction. The docent program is a wonderful addition to the local community as it trains Yonkers high school students to provide tours and lead workshops for younger kids. And what kid doesn’t love getting instruction and special attention from an older and wiser peer?
The Sky’s the Limit
A big draw here is the Andrus Planetarium open year round which easily competes with the city excursions to that other planetarium with its proximity and ease of parking.
With a show for every age, there is always a reason to come by and see what’s happening in the night sky. The 12:30 p.m. show is for the younger set and can easily entertain even 2-to 3-year-old’s with One World, One Sky, Big Bird’s Adventure and Tycho the space-traveling astro-dog. The later shows scheduled at 2 and 3:30 p.m. target older children ages 8 and up, offering more in-depth and complex scientific content and a light show called The Sky Tonight, which shows the actual sky on each evening. All shows last 30 minutes.
Recently, the museum even added a new play space designed specifically for children ages 4 to 7 offering a doll house, puppetry and other activities that lend themselves to imaginative play and can be accessed from noon to 5 p.m. for free with admission.
Easily accessible and rarely, if ever, crowded, the museum is ideal for school-age kids, but can be easily navigated with toddlers and babies in strollers due to wide aisles and spacious rooms. There is also a gift shop on premises with art supplies and Hudson River memorabilia that allows everyone to return home feeling even more connected to the Hudson River.
Elina Furman is a seasoned travel writer and publisher of A-List Mom and A-List Mom Travel, reaching more than 77,000 moms nationwide with her weekly email. She lives in Dobbs Ferry with her two sons and husband.
When You Go …
Hudson River Museum
511 Warburton Ave. Yonkers, N.Y.
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Admission: $6 adults, $3 children ages 5-16, free for kids under 5.
Note: The Andrus Planetarium is only open on weekends and costs an additional $4 for adults, $2 for children.