April 21, 2024

Architectural Concepts Guide

Elevating Home Design Standards

The Met’s New Active Learning and Play Center for Children Now Open

5 min read

Press release

A rendering of an indoor play space which features sleek wood furniture, and brightly colored carpets and children hanging out and interacting with the furniture.

Español |  中国人 | 中文

Called the 81st Street Studio and designed by KOKO Architecture + Design, the innovative space is free for kids and their caregivers

On September 9, The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened the newly designed 81st Street Studio, a science and art play space for children ages 3 to 11, in the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education. The renovated 3,500-square-foot area, designed by KOKO Architecture + Design, is an interactive space that reimagines how the Museum can inspire exploration of its collection, amplify curiosity, and create new experiences for The Met’s youngest visitors. 

The 81st Street Studio is free to children and their caregivers—no Museum admission required. Due to high demand, entry is first-come, first-served and subject to capacity limitations. Guests must sign up for a time slot upon arrival. Advance and online reservations are not available.

The Studio is open 10 am–5 pm Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday through Sunday. Last entry is at 4 pm. Visitors are encouraged to limit their stay to 30 minutes to allow for more guests to access the space.

The new center opened on September 9 with an afternoon children’s festival, which included science-based making, art activities, play, games, and musical performances.

Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director of The Met, said: “Education is a critical—and very exciting—part of The Met’s mission, and we are proud to open the extraordinary new 81st Street Studio and further advance our role as a tremendously engaging resource for local and global communities. Through immersive activities, the Studio inspires children to explore connections between art and science, which is so valuable for creating a lifelong love and appreciation for art and artistic practices. This is a project that was made possible by so many and with strong support to create something unique for our younger audiences. We would like to thank KOKO Architecture + Design for developing this innovative space with us. We are also grateful to Yamaha and Bluecadet for their contributions in making the space an interactive learning experience for children.”  

Heidi Holder, the Museum’s Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chair of Education, said: “With its focus on interdisciplinary learning through the five senses, the 81st Street Studio is a further catalyst for how The Met engages with all visitors. It positions the Museum as a place where visitors can make delightful discoveries, take risks, and ask questions, activities that are imperative to reimaging the future role of museums in our communities.”

The 81st Street Studio is an interdisciplinary, multisensory discovery and play space that supports science learning in everyday life through art and materiality. Designed for children ages 3 to 11 and their caregivers, it offers dynamic digital and analog experiences that stimulate and encourage making, investigation, critical thinking, problem solving, and appreciation for the diverse dimensions of materials and their properties. The space hosts self-directed art- and science-making activities, along with a noncirculating children’s library featuring books that support exploration of materials as well as scheduled storytelling times led by Met staff. 

Through seven interactive stations and the children’s library, the Studio facilitates the exploration of materials. Different materials will be featured on a rotating basis. For example, many of the inaugural activities are inspired by wood, and kids will be able to explore a variety of wood types and finishes through touch and smell, participate in activities such as woodblock carving and drum making, and use digital tools to discover the secrets of wood, clay, and metal. Another highlight is a unique musical station, designed by music and audio brand Yamaha, where kids can understand how materials influence sound through instruments such as a standing guitar, a castanet wall, an organ, and a marimba. Yamaha also designed a bird chime that plays sounds to mark important times of the day in the Studio. Other stations engage the senses through hands-on building using cardboard boxes, tape, wooden blocks, wheels, fabric, and Velcro. 

At the 81st Street Studio, kids can also pick up a Family Field Guide, a packet of cool tools that guides exploration of the Museum. The guide encourages kids to learn more about the scientific aspects of The Met collection as a Met Field Scientist, collecting data while also collecting stickers and a badge. 
81st Street Studio is conceived by Heidi Holder, The Met’s Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chair of Education, in consultation with departments throughout the Museum including Conservation, Scientific Research, Curatorial, Design, Digital, and Capital Projects departments. It is designed by the New York–based firm KOKO Architecture + Design. Bluecadet, an experience design firm, served as a strategic digital design partner and produced interactive media for the space. Concept and design creation for the music space was led by Kip Washio of Yamaha. RoundSquare Builders served as construction manager and Mark Richey Woodworking and Design fabricated the millwork.

About The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met presents art from around the world and across time for everyone to experience and enjoy. The Museum lives in two iconic sites in New York City—The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters. Millions of people also take part in The Met experience online. Since it was founded in 1870, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasury of rare and beautiful objects. Every day, art comes alive in the Museum’s galleries and through its exhibitions and events, revealing both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and across cultures.

About The Met’s Education Department
Dedicated to making art accessible to everyone, regardless of background, disability, age, or experience, the work of The Met’s Education Department is central to the Museum’s mission to engage local and global audiences, making our collection accessible to all. The Education Department currently presents more than 29,000 educational events and programs throughout the year. These programs include workshops, art-making experiences, specialized tours, fellowships supporting leading scholarship and research, high school and college internships that promote career accessibility and diversity, access programs for visitors with disabilities, K-12 educator programs that train teachers to integrate art into core curricula across disciplines, and school tours and programs that spark deep learning and lifelong relationships with and through art. 


Updated: September 26, 2023 

Contact: Stella Kim


Rendering of 81st Street Studio, designed by KOKO Architecture + Design. Image courtesy of Brick Visual

Press resources


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *