The Sugar Hill Museum building.

Image: The Sugar Hill Museum | Photo via The Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling

The Sugar Hill Development in Harlem, New York, is a striking building, built of stepping black blocks with a surface texture that makes one think of coral or peonies. It houses 124 apartment units described as ‘affordable’ and a preschool, and on its ground floor, the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling.

The space, a combined museum and art gallery, is designed by Tanzanian-born architect David Adjaye with a focus on keeping kids engaged. Paintings are displayed at kid-level heights and a soft, dreamy mural by Saya Woolfalk (and her young daughter) forms trails one can follow around the walls of the main gallery.

There are art-making workshops, storytelling series, and an inventive play area. The artist-in-residence (this year, Harlem dweller David Shrobe), is always available to answer children’s questions about the art on the walls, or anything about art at all.

The museum opened on October 15, 2015, with two inaugural exhibits.

People, Places, and Things: Selections from the Studio Museum is full of Harlem artists from the 1930s through 80s, showing the life of the community in which local children are now inheriting.

Txt: art, language, media examines the new, expanding meaning of literacy, from texting to spoken word poetry.

Both exhibits should be of interest to any age, but are particularly valuable for children, in their intent to teach them to examine the stories they live in and the languages they have available to tell them.

The Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling is located at 898 Saint Nicholas Avenue and is open Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 5pm. Starting November 5th, it is also open Thursdays and Fridays from 10am to 5pm. Admission is $4 for children over 9 and $7 for adults. Children eight and under are free.

Every weekend has an exciting event, so please check the calendar when planning your visit!