George Eastman House with Young Kids: a KidsOutAndAbout review | Kids Out and About Buffalo

George Eastman House with Young Kids: a KidsOutAndAbout review

George Eastman House with Young Kids: a KidsOutAndAbout review

by Kathleen McCormack

There’s a new place to take kids to play in Rochester! Well, not new exactly. Actually the George Eastman House has been around since 1949, but I bet you hadn’t considered it as a place to enjoy with your young children.  I recently took my four-year-old to Playing With History: A Family Day at George Eastman House, and it was a hit! (And free for kids to boot!)

Here’s what you can expect from an outing to the George Eastman House with your kids:


The Museum

This particular event, Family Day, was geared specifically towards young kids ages 5 – 12. Inspired by the current exhibition of photography by David Levinthal, who recreates famous moments in history with vintage figurines, several areas were made available for kids to create their own scenes similar to his style. History students from the University of Rochester created backdrops and provided toys for kids to make scenes ranging from medieval castles to World War II battles. Once the participants had their scenes just so, photography students from RIT snapped the perfect pic and printed them out on site. Kids also had a chance to continue creating with Lincoln Logs or color pictures of an early Kodak camera.

Of course, all the main exhibits were available for perusal as well. With the masterful eye of David Levinthal, toy soldiers were positioned and lit just so to create eerie images of men being carried out of battle on the backs of their comrades. A sinking ship launched a sophisticated conversation with my four-year-old about the fate of the Titanic. Eastman House staff provided a family guide to make the photography exhibit more relevant for kids. Kicking yourself for missing out on this event? Click here to see what the George Eastman House is offering next.


The House

Beyond the museum is the opulent home of Rochester magnate, George Eastman, and right in the center of his living room, is the head of an elephant he shot on safari. (Certainly not a practice I would condone to my children, but whoa, it is kinda cool to see.) Young ladies, especially, will enjoy descending the grand staircase ala Cinderella arriving at the ball. Docents are available for tours to fill you in on the historic details, but I was there with a little one, so we made a beeline to the Discovery Room upstairs. Designed specifically to engage young minds, my daughter made sun prints, created zoetropes, and had her first encounter with a camera that was not embedded in a cell phone. 


The Grounds

There’s a reason why many couples choose to take their wedding photographs at the George Eastman House. Complex pathways through meticulous gardens open up into a wide, park-like space. We took a break outside to simply run and play. And, of course, for mom to snap a few pictures of the little one in the picturesque spring foliage. It’s the perfect spot for summer concerts. Check their calendar for details.



The Best Part!

Not only did we get to experience artist David Levinthal’s photography, we attended a reading of his children’s book Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? And guess who was reading it? Mr. Levinthal himself! After the reading, he signed the book and handed it to my daughter! 



While most of the events at the George Eastman House are still geared towards an older crowd, it’s exciting to see a push being made to bring young kids into this major Rochester landmark, to start developing early an appreciation for the contributions of a man who put Rochester on the map.


© 2015, 

Kathleen McCormack is managing editor of KidsOutAndAbout; she gets bored easily, so she LOVES finding new places to take the kids to play.