Skip to main content
  • COVID-19 Information
COVID-19 is still active. Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay up to date on vaccine information. Visit:
COVID19 Alert NJDownload free COVID Alert app.
Department of State

New Jersey State Museum

The Hon. Tahesha Way, Secretary of State

Mask Policy Update:

Thank you for your patronage and support in these challenging times. The State of New Jersey has lifted universal indoor masking for visitors and staff in state buildings. Masking is still strongly encouraged if you have booked a reserved or guided programs in galleries and classroom spaces.

Discovery Den

Explore The Museum

Discovery Den

Discovery Den


The Discovery Den is a family engagement play space for children ages 0-8. Families are encouraged to explore together through pretend play, making art, puzzle and building sets and scientific inquiry. All activities focus on the natural world.

Discovery Den opened in 2015 thanks in part to the generous support from the PNC Foundation through the Grow UP Great program.


Discovery Den zones are created to appeal to different ages and stages.


Discovery Den is located on Level 2 in the Natural History Hall. Discovery Den is free to explore and is open during Museum hours.

To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all families we have posted these rules:

  1. Leave shoes on.
  2. No food or drink may be consumed in Discovery Den (nursing and bottle feeding is allowed).
  3. All children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
  4. School Groups: 1 chaperone for every 10 kids is necessary in this space.
  5. This area is for ages 0-8 and those who accompany them. Older children must look out for crawling babies and little feet.
  6. No more than 20 kids at a time are allowed.
  7. Only use inside voices.
  8. No roughhousing (including running, jumping, throwing objects and wrestling).
  9. Please put items back in their proper space after use.
  10. No more than 3 kids allowed in the tent at any one time.
  11. Objects and books are not to leave the Discover Den space.
  12. Safety is our top priority. Failure to follow these rules could result in visitors being asked to leave the space.

Programs and Resources

Families are welcome to register for the Small Explorers program, taking place in the Discovery Den on the second Saturday of the month. contact Susan Buckley at

Children ages 3-8 explore and learn about the natural world with books, magnifiers, building sets and puzzles. Take notes and draw specimens just as Natural Scientists do in the field. Continue the research at home by creating a collection of rocks, shells or leaves. Open your own exhibit!

Costume Create!

Coloring develops both gross and fine motor skills and helps your child practice color recognition. Both adults and children benefit from sitting together and talking while you color, its relaxing! Bring home your art as a souvenir or leave it hanging on the wall so you can say it was featured at the NJ State Museum!

Here you will find bookshelves for reading, floor pillows to help babies sit up and wall activities for toddlers to explore.

Infants can cuddle with you in the gliders or crawl and explore. When you talk or read to an infant, including newborns, you are helping their brain develop the connections it needs to understand language. Regular reading teaches new words and increases attention span.

Pretend you are camping in New Jersey – Is it day or night? Who are you with? What sounds do you hear in this environment? Go fishing, tell campfire stories and read books by lantern light.

What do you see at the campsite? Plants, animals or insects? Talk with your child about size, shape and color of the natural environment they imagine.

Put on a show! Learn more about these animals throughout the Den.

Through imaginative play children explore feelings and develop social and cognitive skills.

Costume Cubby

Who will you be today?

Engage your kids by asking how that creature behaves or what that person does on the job. If the child doesn’t know, help them find the answer by exploring books, activities and objects.

Look for the Small Explorers gallery guides available throughout the Museum to help your family explore the galleries before or after your play time. These guides are designed for children ages 0-5 and include objects to find with related activities you can do at home.


to top