This children’s history museum at the New-York Historical Society transports children ages 8-12 into a world where the history of New York can be explored. The exhibits are created to develop children’s research and exploration skills that can be applied to objects from the N-YHS’s collection. Visitors become “history sleuths” or detectives and unlock information that makes objects, events and historical persons come to life through the context of the child’s life in New York. Visitors will use these new findings to continue discovery and meaning-making beyond the walls of the Society as they experience New York City’s streets, parks, public places and infrastructure.
The space is designed as a library of wonderment, full of objects and displays that blur the line between past and present, and that upon closer examination reveal hidden opportunities to delve deeper into the historical context. A bookshelf spins to reveal technology kiosks that allow discovery of historical documents; keyholes focus visitors attention on a historical event; various “decoders” explain handwriting from the past, others aid visitors in developing symbolism and meaning from historical objects and depictions. The gallery also uses people’s innate fascination with personal stories to discover various individuals from New York past, making full use of audio, scents, textures and other sensory elements to immerse visitors in “portraits come to life”. The DiMenna Children’s History Museum also incorporates the Barbara K. Lipman Children’s History Library, an area where the N-YHS makes its collection of children’s books accessible.