and Partners

Children’s Museum of Manhattan


Founded in 1973 by parents as a grassroots, neighborhood organization, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan serves approximately 350,000 visitors each year at its Upper West Side location. Hundreds of thousands more benefit from the museum’s outreach programs at schools, libraries, homeless shelters, Head Start centers, and hospitals; its touring exhibitions; and its online tools and curricula. Creating experiences at the intersection of the arts, sciences and the humanities, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan helps children and families thrive at home, at school, and in the community.


Purpose: To support the campaign for a new building.

The Illumination Fund has had a deep, long-term partnership with the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM), where Laurie M. Tisch served as the founding board chair when the former storefront arts education space was transformed into a full-fledged children’s museum.

Today, CMOM helps the youngest New Yorkers grow into life-long learners, and is a national leader in early childhood education. The Illumination Fund is supporting the next chapter, as CMOM is building its future home in a landmark church building on Central Park West and 96th Street. The new building is expected to triple the Museum’s amount of exhibition space while accommodating up to twice as many visitors a year. The 1903 building, designed by Carrère & Hastings, will be adapted into a vibrant and engaging space for children and families.

Meanwhile, CMOM continues its robust exhibitions and programs at its building on West 83rd Street. Exhibitions and programs include:

  • Inside Art, where kids can assemble, create, peek into, crawl under, and walk through one-of-a-kind, larger-than-life art installations and giant sculptures by eleven New York City-based contemporary artists.
  • Superpowered Metropolis: Early Learning City™, a hands-on, educational and immersive comic book version of New York City where children, families and caregivers are the heroes, building their superpowered early learning brain skills together, including self-control, working memory, and mental flexibility through a series of imaginary New York City adventures exploring the subways, parks, music, travel, treehouses, and more.
  • EatSleepPlay™: Building Health Every Day, an exhibit and interactive experience for families to create a healthier lifestyle together. All activities and information are based on the latest medical and behavioral research and are linked to the most important elements of a child’s day.
  • PlayWorks™ to help families prepare children to enter school ready to learn and grow. By combining play and learning, PlayWorks™ creates a fun and rewarding experience for children that builds their physical, social, math, art, science, literacy and problem-solving abilities—as well as the self-confidence, independence and awareness necessary for them to become life-long learners. For adults, PlayWorks™ provides an opportunity to observe each child’s unique learning style and appreciate how play creates a strong foundation for later learning.

For periods when children aren’t able to visit the museum physically, including the period of COVID-19, CMOM developed CMOM At Home, where educators are offering fun, educational and engaging activities for kids and families to enjoy together at home, including videos, sing-a-longs, and games. Each day has a special theme, including “Magical Monday” for math, science and technology, “Move & Groove Tuesday” for physical activity and “Our World Wednesday” for parents to explore the world with their children, exposing kids to different cultures.