About New York Mag
Recent Issues

 Urban Strategist
Top Public High Schools
High handed: Students at the New York City Museum School. (Photo by Magdalena Caris.)
New York City Museum School
333 West 17th Street
New York, NY 10011
Admissions policy: Educational option
Grade levels: 6-12
Graduation rate:
Not yet available
Enrollment: 385
Class size: 25
Ethnicity: 26% W, 26% B, 40% H, 8% A
Average SATs: Not available
Free lunch: 34%
The premise of the Museum School is this: The museums of New York have the tools to give children a liberal-arts education -- not just an appreciation of fine art but also a firm foundation in fundamentals like science, history, and English.

Students here learn to do research in the great Egyptian collection of the Brooklyn Museum, the laboratories of the American Museum of Natural History, and the galleries of the Jewish Museum. High-school students visit museums at least two afternoons a week. When they study immigration, they visit Ellis Island and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum to relive the newcomers' experience. When they study the French Revolution, they visit the lavish Rococo-period rooms at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to get an idea of the excesses of the ancien régime. They learn to use the collections the way museum professionals do.

That said, "we're dyed-in-the-wool traditionalists, both of us," says Sonnet Takahisa. A former Brooklyn Museum assistant director, she and Ron Chaluisan, formerly a Lab School teacher, founded the Museum School in 1994, aiming to offer an education with the academic rigor of a traditional college-preparatory school and the fun of a progressive elementary school. While the teachers are still working out the kinks on how to match the math and science curricula with the Regents exams, the high school boasts a nearly 100 percent passing rate in Regents exams in English and 93 percent in history.

Parents call the high-school teachers "awesome," "inspiring," "really wonderful." A mother who has one child at Stuyvesant and another at Museum says the teaching at the latter is superior.

How hard is it to get in? Children may be admitted in either sixth or ninth grade. In sixth grade, candidates are interviewed by the faculty. They participate in a mini-class and are asked to write an essay, solve a math problem, and observe an object and describe it. In ninth grade, students are accepted based on the educational-option formula. In recent years, the school has been particularly popular among Brooklyn parents.

Downsides: Like most other new schools, the Museum School has had its share of growing pains. Teacher turnover was rapid in the first few years. At first, most middle-school students left for high school, and the entering ninth-graders had trouble adjusting. But seven years into Museum's existence, more than half of its eighth-grade class stays for high school.

Web Extras

Article from New York Teacher: 'New York City's Museum School taps a treasure trove of learning'

Description from the Board of Education

1999-2000 School Report from Board of Education (pdf format)

  • Baruch College Campus High School
  • Beacon School
  • New York City Lab School for Collaborative Studies
  • The New York City Museum School
  • School of the Future
  • Young Women's Leadership School

  • brooklyn
  • Edward R. Murrow High School
  • The Leon M. Goldstein High School for the Sciences
  • Midwood High School
  • High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology

  • Benjamin Cardozo High School
  • Townsend Harris High School

    From the October 22, 2001 issue of New York Magazine.
    Copyright © 2019 , New York Metro, Llc. All rights reserved.
    NewYorkMagazine.com: About Us | Contact Us |  Privacy Policy | Terms of Use |  Search/Archives  | Advertise with Us  |  Newsletters  | Media Kit
    New York Magazine: About New York   | Contact New York |  Subscribe to the Magazine |  Customer Services  | Media Kit
    [an error occurred while processing this directive]