Museums Near Westchester County
Boost your brainpower by taking a day trip to one of these nearby intellectual institutions.
(Left) (Below) the Grounds For Sculpture has art everywhere you look.
Museum of the moving image photo by Peter Aaron/Esto. Courtesy of Museum of the Moving Image; Grounds For Sculpture Photo by David Steele, Courtesy of the Sculpture Foundation Inc.
(Left) West Point doesn’t just house classrooms—it’s got a world-class military museum. (Below) The Hudson River Maritime Museum has exhibits that will float your boat.
The hibernating period is over. March means rubbing the days-are-too-short sleep out of your eyes and getting out and exploring the world. What better way to wake you from your cold-weather slumber than to put your mind through its paces at a nearby museum? We all know about the big ones to the south of us—and we’ve seen their Van Goghs and Egyptian tombs a million times. And our local museums, well, we visit regularly (or at least we mean to). Instead, why not reach out a little farther and take a day trip to a museum that’s a little farther away? Here’s a list to get you started.
Photo by Peter Aaron/Esto
Early projectors in Behind the Screen, the core exhibition at Museum of the Moving Image.
Museum of the Moving Image
Astoria, NY (718) 784-0077; movingimage.us
Travel time from White Plains: 45 minutes
Hurry! If you act fast enough, you can still catch this museum’s so-successful-it’s-been-extended exhibition, Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, which comes complete with 15 Muppets—we loved seeing Miss Piggy in her wedding dress from The Muppets Take Manhattan. (You can even partake in a Muppet Movie sing-along with Heather Henson on March 2 and March 3.) But even when those fabulous felt creations aren’t in residence, the museum—which unveiled a $67 million renovation last year—always has a cool mix of movie memorabilia, screenings, and Q&As with filmmakers.
Grounds For Sculpture
Hamilton, NJ (609) 586-0616; groundsforsculpture.org
Travel time from White Plains: 2 hours
Even if you’ve done the circuit of Kykuit, PepsiCo, and Storm King one too many times, you still haven’t exhausted all of your sculpture-garden options for the area. The outdoor Grounds For Sculpture in nearby New Jersey has 42 acres with more than 250 contemporary sculptures, including works by Anthony Caro, Red Grooms, Alexander Rutsch, and
Kiki Smith. If it’s still too chilly,
there are indoor attractions as well, including seasonal exhibitions; the Toad Hall Shop & Gallery, where
artisans display their wares; and Rat’s Restaurant, an incongruously named fine-dining establishment.
Photo by David Steele, Courtesy of the Sculpture Foundation Inc.
West Point doesn’t just house classrooms—it’s got a world-class military museum.
West Point Museum
West Point, NY
(845) 938-3590; usma.edu/museum
Travel time from White Plains: 1 hour
You may have known that, just across the Hudson, cadets were learning about our long and storied military history at West Point. But did you know that you could join them, browsing all of the items at its on-site museum? The museum at West Point claims to be “the oldest and largest diversified public collection of militaria in the Western Hemisphere.” Indeed, there are four floors where you could check out objects such as tanks from World War I, memorabilia from famous West Point cadets like Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ulysses S. Grant, Napoleon’s sword and pistols, and handheld weapons from the Stone Age through today. And you don’t need a bank account the size of our nation’s defense budget to get in—admission is free.
Hudson River Maritime Museum
(845) 338-0071; hrmm.org
Travel time from White Plains: 1 hour
Hands-down, the best thing about living in this area—now or in the past—is our access to the water. That means that the Hudson River Maritime Museum has a lot of history to draw from for its exhibitions. Its galleries have displays about local boating and examples of small crafts—from duck boats to a lifeboat from the steamer Mary Powell—and visiting vessels dock outside throughout the year. But the real jewel is the picturesque, candy-apple-red 1898 tugboat Matilda, which is permanently docked in the museum’s yard. Don’t have your sea legs? Kingston is also home to the Trolley Museum of New York (845-331-3399; tmny.org).
Stepping Stones Museum
(203) 899-0606; steppingstonesmuseum.org
Travel time from White Plains: 35 minutes
After a winter being cooped up indoors, your little ones need to get out and stretch their bodies and their minds. At Stepping Stones, an interactive children’s museum, they can do both, since a $17 million renovation in 2010 doubled the indoor space for more running-around room and added cool new exhibits to engage their tiny brains. Now kids can tour the “energy lab,” where they can learn about solar, wind, water, and other forms of energy. (The building itself is LEED-certified and has its own wind turbine and solar panels.) Events at the museum in March have kids creating Quetzal birds of Guatemala, learning about nanoscience, and hearing popular songs from movies performed on hand bells.