When it comes to birthday party planning, I’m usually an intrepid DIY-er. We’ve partied in plenty of parks and playgrounds perfect for a fete, and my not-so-hidden talent is definitely cake decorating, but celebrating my daughter’s recent birthday at the Museum of Arts and Design was so much fun and so stress-free, I just might leave my independent birthday party planning streak behind.
Though the venue is new to the New York City birthday party scene, our Museum of Arts and Design’s birthday party had it all: A stunning, private party space with a spectacular view of Central Park, a welcoming energetic staff who kept the party moving and took care of every last detail, and an artist-led workshop that was fun and sent everyone home with a cool keepsake. Read on for more details on our cool birthday party at the Museum of Arts and Design, and find more tips for planning your kid’s next milestone celebration in our Guide to Kids’ Birthday Parties in NYC.
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Founded in 1956, the Museum of Arts and Design displays contemporary works, dating from the 1950s to the present in its distinctive standalone building on the southern edge of Columbus Circle. Dedicated to the exhibition of works that focus on creativity and craftsmanship, its four floors of exhibition space display objects from its permanent collection, plus rotating temporary exhibitions. Its Open Studios program employs artists-in-residence who open their workspaces to the public allowing visitors to get an up-close look at works in progress.
Celebrating a birthday party at the Museum of Arts and Design grants your guests access to one of the same light-filled studios that the MAD’s professional artists use. The birthday party room’s high-floor location and floor-to-ceiling windows offer a lovely backdrop for a celebration.
Art supplies greeted visitors when they walked into the birthday party room at the Museum of Arts and Design.
We arrived to find festive decorations—a colorful happy birthday sign, plus pompom garlands galore—and plenty of art supplies to enjoy. An ice-breaker activity included letting our guests decorate a mini-journal with paint markers while we waited for all of my daughter’s friends to arrive. I pumped her favorite playlist onto the museum’s Bluetooth speakers while giggles and dancing ensued. A chalkboard wall was a fun place to gather and doodle, too.
Artist-educator Alayna Wiley led our group art project and encouraged everyone to get in on the creative fun.
The centerpiece of a Museum of Arts and Design birthday party is an artist-educator-led workshop, and my 9-year-old selected a “Colorful Creature Cups” project for her crew. Educator Alayna Wiley led the whole group—drawing the adults in too!—in the workshop where we used Model Magic, markers, plenty of creativity, googly-eyes, sequins, and sparkles to bring our projects to life. All the materials were included, along with plenty of encouragement and time to show off our creations. A major bonus in my book: I didn’t have to set up or clean up one thing—always a barrier to embracing my kids’ creativity at home!
Creature Cups took shape in a variety of sizes and shapes and made a great take-home favor!
Other project options include “Wonderful Wearable Art,” where kids can create everything from amulets to bracelets, and “Wish Weavings,” which results in a hand-weaved wall hanging to take home plus a mini-cardboard loom that can be reused to create future projects.
A basic party at the Museum of Arts and Design includes all of the above and two hours in the party room—though you can add more time for a fee. It also grants admission to the museum for up to 12 kids and 14 adults. Some of the parents stayed in the party room and joined in on the craft activity, while others opted to enjoy some adult museum time in the galleries, and a couple even snuck upstairs to the museum’s restaurant Robert for a glass of wine. I had enough fun crafting my Creature Cup, I was only a teensy bit jealous!
Sequins, buttons, ribbons, and more were at our disposal during our art-filled birthday party at MAD.
Prices start at $750 for a basic birthday party package—which is fairly reasonable by NYC standards—and I loved learning that the proceeds from these birthday parties go to benefit the museum’s education department and offset the cost of the FREE field trips it offers to Title I schools in NYC.
The birthday girl was all smiles with a supersized slice of cake and juice box to enjoy.
Party add-ons include cake, pizza and juice or soda, and an artist kit party favor, which comes packed in a cool MAD-logo bag with a family pass for a return visit, plus art supplies like a watercolor kit, pompom maker, and more Model Magic so you can continue the creativity at home.
Full Museum of Arts and Design birthday party details can be found online. Parties require a reservation at least two weeks in advance and are generally held on weekend afternoons, though some weekdays may be arranged.
All photos by author