Museums are great places for providing informal education for both children and adults—and there’s no shortage of Staten Island museums your family will enjoy. And, in addition to being an education outing, they’re also fun! From history museums to nature centers and more, you’ll find a museum everyone in your family will love. Browse our guide to art museums, history museums, cultural museums, and more, including the Staten Island Children’s Museum at Snug Harbor on Staten Island, and get ready for a day of learning—and fun! And if your family wants to see exotic and domestic animals, consider visiting one of NYC’s many zoos—even one right here on Staten Island!
Snug Harbor’s Staten Island Museums Have Something for Everyone
1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island
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Hours: Grounds: daily, dawn to dusk; museums’ hours vary, see below for details
Admission: Outdoor grounds are free; museums’ admissions vary, see below for details
From scenic walks through beautiful gardens to outdoor activities for children to a museum dedicated to maritime culture, there’s something for everyone at this cultural hotspot. Snug Harbor’s sprawling grounds are home to 28 buildings, 14 botanical gardens, a 2-acre urban farm, wetlands, and park. A Smithsonian affiliate, Snug Harbor is home to other museums including:
Admission: $8 free for children younger than 1
A fun place for children to learn and play, the museum is home to 12 indoor and outdoor exhibits and offers lots of programs, events, and school breaks and summer camps.
Visitors will learn about Staten Island and New York City at this museum.
A place for contemporary art lovers, the museum recently celebrated its grand re-opening with several new exhibits after being closed due to the pandemic.
Named after artist John A. Noble, the museum displays maritime-themed exhibits.
History Museums on Staten Island
This museum was once the home of Alice Austen (1866-1952), one of America’s most prolific woman photographers. Austen took approximately 8,000 images throughout her lifetime. At this photographic museum, visitors can see photos of Austen, learn about her work, and explore intersections of Austen’s work and contemporary themes in art and journalistic photography. The museum offers a variety of public events throughout the year.
This national and city landmark is the site of the Staten Island Peace Conference, a failed attempt to negotiate an end to the American Revolution. Exhibits include Immigrants: The Roots of Innovation and Claiming the Vote: Her Story, which gives a look into women’s history and the struggle for their right to vote. Tours are available but must be booked in advance.
A 226-acre national park, Fort Wadsworth is one of the oldest military installations in the country. Visitors can observe a part of history here, take in views of New York Harbor (including those mini islands off of Staten Island: Swinburne and Hoffman Islands), and walk, run or bike through the fort. NOTE: The on-site museum is currently closed to the public.
441 Clarke Ave., Staten Island
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Hours: The Historical Museum will be CLOSED for maintenance: February 16-25
Hours for January 12-April 28, 2024:
Friday-Sunday: 12 to 5 pm
Wednesday-Sunday: 11 am to 5 pm, Please check the website for updates.
Admission: $10 for ages 3 and older; free for children ages 2 and younger
Step back in time to this living history village that focuses on the colonial period to the present. The museum’s collection has 60,000 artifacts that tell the stories of American life over centuries. Exhibits include the Third County Courthouse: Center of Civic Life on Staten Island which showcases courthouse architecture, notable trials, the political process, and a county jail. The village is also home to the Voorlezer’s house, believed to be one of the oldest schoolhouses in the country, dating back to the 1690s.
It’s all things maritime at the National Lighthouse Museum, which has a scenic view of New York Harbor. Exhibits include the Wall of Lights, which houses more than 180 lighthouse models from 29 states, and a Lighthouse Timeline that shows a history of lighthouses. The museum offers periodic boat tours of New York Harbor for an additional fee. Check the website for details.
Located in Staten Island’s South Shore, Sandy Ground is the site of the oldest continuously inhabited free Black settlement in the U.S. The museum has a variety of exhibits on view and works to educate the public on the history of Sandy Ground through its on-site collections, guided tours, art programs for children, film, ethnic foods, and lectures.
Cultural Museums on Staten Island
The museum spotlights Giuseppe Garibaldi, an Italian general and patriot, and Antonio Meucci, an Italian inventor, engineer, and practical chemist who is known for developing a form of voice communication apparatus in 1857. Many say he should be credited with the invention of the telephone. The museum works to promote Italian-American heritage through a variety of cultural and educational programs and classes.
The museum works to preserve the art and culture of Tibet. Many artifacts are part of the museum’s collection, including a donation of Himalayan artifacts from U.S. Ambassador to Nepal 1980-81 Phillip R. Trimble. This collection includes two black death masks from Bhutan, a Vajra, a bell and ritual skull cup from Nepal, two Tamang masks (male and female), and Bhutanese silver bracelets. Rugs from the 19th century and a saddle blanket from Tibet are also part of the collection. Guided meditation classes are available on Saturday mornings ($12).
Set sail for fun and learning at this museum! It focuses on maritime culture and has exhibits showcasing the evolution of marine electronics.
Celebrate the heritage of Sri Lanka, an island country located in South Asia. Many items are on display here, including books, traditional bridal clothing, dancing costumes, and more.