I’m a movie bufff. I’ve always been. My mother was the type of mom who dragged us to a Gene Kelly double feature with “Singin in the Rain” and “On the Town.” A film minor in college, I’ve always been obsessed with film, old and new. I want some of this obsession to rub off on my kids. After having visited the museum two years ago, I already knew what to expect but had never been with kids in mind.
So today, on day #1 of spring break, we ventured to the Museum of Moving Images (35th Avenue at 36th Street) in Astoria. I’ve been a big fan of the museum since my days of living in Manhattan when I used to jump on the N/R to go to special screenings and lectures by film makers and historians. I have been planning this trip for a while but wanted them to be old enough to appreciate it.
The museum has expanded their hours this week from 10am to 5pm. This will last until April 9th for the duration of spring recess. Tickets are $7 per person (suggested, so it really is pay what you wish), but kids under 8 are free. It’s a great, educational way to spend the afternoon, and there’s a lot to do in the museum for kids.
In the exhibition, Behind the Screen, my kids learned how film are made by making stop-motion animation, adding sound and music to famous movie scenes like “The Wizard of Oz” and “Babe,” playing good old-fashioned video games like Atari, and more. They enjoyed seeing original costumes from classic films and seeing props from orignial sets. The exhibit features thousands of film and television artifacts, computer-based interactive experiences, commissioned installations, audio-visual materials, and demonstrations of professional equipment and techniques.
They also really liked the showing of a new film by Spike Jonze, who made Where the Wild Things Are. It’s called Higglety Pigglety Pop! and it’s based on the book by Maurice Sendak. It features the voices of Meryl Streep and Forest Whitaker and brings Sendak’s memorable character, Jennie the Terrier, to to the screen. The film combines live action, puppets and actors. My kids were glued to the screen for the full 23 minutes, which was a nice break for me. Their screenings are hourly, starting at 11am and end at 4pm.
They also participated in a Moving Pictures Workshop for kids age 6-12, which occurs daily at 11:30am. They made their own Thaumatrope – a 19th century optical toy – which makes images move and helps explain the process of how films are made. They were very excited by the final result which they brought home. They have other workshops for kids age 10 and up, too.
Personally, I loved the wall of the portraits of the numerous movie stars of the 1920s and on. I introduced my kids to Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood and Elizabeth Taylor among many others.
I highly recommend a visit to the Museum of Moving Images. Teach your kids what happens behind the screen of the shows and films they watch. The time to get them interested is now.