When the museum doors close for the night, some people imagine the exhibits come to life and start talking. At the Raynham Hall Education Center and Museum in Oyster Bay, this actually happens during the day.
Talkative Portraits is one of the few interactive exhibits featured in museums on Long Island this fall. At other museums, visitors can drive rovers through Mars, stand inside giant bubbles, build robots from recyclables, or go on a scavenger hunt in a sculpture garden.
Here’s how seven hands-on Long Island museums are making a cutting-edge, COVID-safe comeback.
As you enter the Raynham Hall Education Center and Museum, you will notice the portraits of two merchants, a colonel and a slave who lived during the American Revolution. Hold your phone in front of each portrait and insert your headphones. The person in the portrait will appear on your phone, move around, and tell you what they were doing there even hundreds of years ago.
Then hover your phone over an Oyster Bay diorama. On your screen, a hologram-like George Washington will appear and tell you about life in 1776. This is all part of a digital tapestry program created by a company known as 360XR. As Chief Technologist Jack Stephenson describes: âWe stand on the shoulders of giants, but we created software and worked with historians and storytellers to bring the portraits to life. The idea is that if you point your phone at an object, it will recognize it. . “
Since the museum is based on life in Oyster Bay circa 1776, there’s also a 70-inch screen filled with games based on spy decoding techniques used during the American Revolution, quizzes, and more. Children can touch the screen with a stylus to send an imaginary message to George Washington. Also in the museum, families can sniff and identify smells during these times, steer the wheel of an old ship, and move a wall with a stunning tale.
THE DETAILS: 30 Main Street West; 516-922-6808; Tuesday to Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. raynhamhallmuseum.org. Adults: $ 12, seniors and students: $ 8, children under 5, members, soldiers: free.
The practical theme of the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City is âthe future is nowâ. In the museum, there is a new simulated surface of 12 by 12 of Mars, which coordinates with augmented reality. Visitors to the museum can move space rovers across the surface of Mars, dig up space dust, and fly helicopters.
Here’s how it works: At home, start by downloading a Mars-specific app to your phone (the link is on the museum’s website). On your phone screen, you will choose a rover that will allow you to launch it on a full mission to Mars. Creative museum director Rod Leonhard explains, âSince the mobile is on your phone screen, you can place it anywhere on our Mars surface in the museum. You can drive and fly the Mars helicopter. “
By doing this experience at the museum, you will learn a lot about the planet. Bonus tip: working with augmented reality isn’t limited to the museum. âAugmented reality is the future of technology. Scientists actually use it when working on high-engineering projects,â says Leonhard.
THE DETAILS: boulevard Charles Lindbergh; 516-572-4111; Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., cradleofaviation.org. See the website for various admission programs.
BUBBLES AND BEASTS
At the Long Island Children’s Museum in Garden City, there are 14 interactive exhibits for children from birth to 10 years old. Here are a few :
The bubble: Stand in the center of a giant ring, and a tire brings a bubble around you. You are in a six foot bubble.
Feast of the Beast: To examine what, how and why animals eat, there is an animal restaurant. Animal sculptures sit at a dining table as the kids serve them fake food and predict if the animals will eat them. The answers “yes” and “no” will appear on the mustard and ketchup containers.
âAt the museum, we have noticed how much parents and children want to relive these hands-on experiences,â explains Maureen Mangan, museum communications director. She thinks it’s the way kids learn best. “Take a concept and put it into practice. Experiment. It provides a more lasting memory.” With that in mind, museum staff take COVID regulations seriously. âStaff members are armed with cleaning fluids throughout the day,â Mangan explains. âIt’s almost like a janitor situation. If a child touches something, a staff member says, ‘Let’s clean that up. “
DETAILS: 11 Davis Avenue; 516-224-5800; Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (see website for meeting times); licm.org; General admission is $ 14, members and children under 1: free, group rate: $ 10, Seniors 65 and over: $ 13
FROM SCIENCE TO KITCHEN
At the Long Island Science Museum in Manhasset, the “Science and cooking” workshop is a highlight after school. Education director Huse Kivrak said that “children are discovering that cooking is a science with food”. And a new program called “Tiny Science” debuts this fall. Working with living insects, field microscopes, and collections of microscope slides, kids discover the smallest of the tiny ones.
DETAILS: 1526, N. Plandome Road; 516-627-9400; smli.org; program prices vary.
GARDEN SCULPTURE TREASURE HUNT
Pick up a self-guided scavenger hunt clue sheet at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn. There is an indoor treasure hunt based on the current museum exhibit and a second outdoor hunt around the garden sculptures. The clues take families on an imaginative and creative journey by reading clues in the sculpture garden such as: âHer body is going one way, but her head is turned. Is she running away? Did she hear a strange sound? She’s traveling on something that has two round wheels. When you look at her face, can you tell how she is feeling?
DETAILS: a museum walk; 516-484-9338; Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. nassaumuseum.org; See website for varied admission prices.
STEM AND GARDENS
In the Long Island Explorium in Port Jefferson, everything physically in the museum is interactive. As Lisa Rodriguez, Director of Media / Marketing Programs, describes it, âIf it’s out there on the ground, it’s there for the kids to explore. Since the museum is located on the Port Jefferson shore, there is an outdoor STEM club and rain garden activities. Indoors, kids can build with everything from rods and small pipes to tires and shapes. Hands-on activities rotate all the time, so kids created projects ranging from LED circuits to magic tricks with paper.
DETAILS: 101 E. Broadway; 631-331-3277; Wednesday to Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. longislandexplorium.org; $ 5 per person, members and children under 1: free
Magnifying BINOCULARS AND GLASSES
Weekends skip to the Garvies Point Museum and Preserve in Glen Cove. On Fall Saturdays, families can take part in guided nature walks and field observations in the reserve. Using magnifying glasses and binoculars, they search for everything from birds to mushrooms to fossils. Each walk focuses on a different practical theme and is followed by crafts related to the topic. Inside the museum, there is an interactive Native American village. Kids can ride canoes, crawl through wigwams, and pretend to garden, fish, and cook over a seemingly smoking fire. If you plan to join a walk on a Saturday, it is recommended that you call ahead.
DETAILS: 50 Barry Drive, Glen Cove; 516-571-8010; Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to 4 pm; garviespointmuseum.com; adults $ 5, children 5-12 years old $ 3, free for members.