I would like to take you on a tour of a gem on the North Shore of Staten Island--Snug Harbor Cultural Center and more specifically, the Staten Island Children’s Museum.

On a recent weekend, I offered to babysit my grandson ALL DAY while his parents had some needed adult time together.  After I made the offer, I called my brother to see if he would like to join (help) me--he was game.

Many years ago, I took my son to the original Children's Museum in Stapleton, a hands-on learning and fun experience.  Over the years, I have brought my nieces and nephew to Snug Harbor.  Now it was time to experience it through the eyes of yet another tot. 

Outside the museum, we were greeted by a huge metal sculpture made from used car parts, Francis the Praying Mantis.  How cool is that? 

Inside the museum, children can climb onto an authentic Fire Engine, ring bells, make all kinds of loud noises by pressing buttons on the dashboard.  They can slide down a pole and put on boots and gear.  A life-sized fireman fully equipped in his gear stands nearby. 


In the next room, there is a bowling game, checkers, huge chess pieces, giant dominoes as well as other mind teasers that children can enjoy. In Portia’s Playhouse, children can don different costumes and try out their acting and singing skills. 

We ventured to the third floor where my grandson was in his glory.  A kid-sized “Bob the Builder” type room was fascinating to him.  Tools of every kind await the kids.  A wrecking ball with (fake) bricks to knock over can be tried as well as a digger to test their skills in picking up and transferring sand and rocks.  The exhibit shows how a house is built—the architect’s job, the contractor’s job.  A see-through unfinished house shows the conduits for electric and plumbing with exposed beams. 

The Bugs and other Insects exhibit is “a-buzz” where one can crawl through a human sized ant hill.  Yes, I crawled!   Every bug, snake, insect imaginable is in this room.  A bee hive with the Queen visibly marked shows the activity that occurs on a normal day in the life of a bee.  In and out of the hive the bees travel.  A veterinary office is set up with stethoscope and equipment to treat a bunch of stuffed animals for all their ailments. 

We stopped to catch our breath in the Café on the lower level where simple but healthy foods are offered in collaboration with On Your Mark, (OYM) an agency which provides services to children and adults with disabilities.  There is also a library so the kids (or Uncle) can read while eating.


Art classes were offered that day--one working with colored sand and at the same time, water-color painting.  My grandson tried both.  He also got a kick out of playing an electronic piano which translates on the screen into colorful graphics.


On the lower level is a replica of a pirate ship including a full galley kitchen, a bridge connecting to the upper deck, where you can look through a telescope, ring the bell, navigate the wheel, try out the sleeping quarters and a net swing.  In the same area are blocks and Legos of every shape and size, including dinosaurs—my grandson’s favorite.  Outside that area are train sets and games that can interest children of every age.


We spent many hours at the Museum that day but could have stayed till closing to see everything.  It is a place for children of all ages to learn, explore, participate in a hands-on exciting experience and to have fun.

If you have not been to Snug Harbor Cultural Center and explored everything it has to offer, put it on your list of things to do real soon.  If you have not had the pleasure of visiting the Children’s Museum, bring your children or treat a child—niece, nephew, grandchild, to a great day that they and you will not forget.  Snug Harbor Cultural Center is located at 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY.  For further information, call 718-273-2060.

I would love to know what you think of Snug Harbor and the Staten Island Children's Museum.  What was your child's favorite exhibit?  Did they like the tools, the digger and the wrecking ball?  Did they bring home art work? Write me below or at joan.coogan@gmail.com or call me at 646-258-9696.

Posted by Joan Coogan on


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The Children's Museum is awesome! It is worth every penny. We took our kid there and spent about 3 1/2 hours there. We were exhausted but our kid wanted to stay. Really, every kid needs to go there.

Posted by Andrew on Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 at 9:37am

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