Showing posts with label free museum admission. Show all posts
Showing posts with label free museum admission. Show all posts


Free Memberships at 33 NYC Cultural Institutions with IDNYC

Joining museums in NYC can run you hundred of dollars. Heck, just paying admission to a few can cost you half a paycheck. So what if I told you that there's a way to not only get free admission but a full-fledged free membership to 33 cultural institutions throughout the 5 boroughs as well as receive discounts for Mets and Yankees tickets and even grocery stores?

IDNYC is a new program sponsored by the city of New York to provide a new form of identification for all New York City residents. Using it will give you access to city services, allow you to enter public buildings, and enable you to open a checking account. You can also link it to your Brooklyn, New York, or Queens library account--the first time one card has ever been recognized by all 3 systems.

As an incentive for people to sign up, you will be able to apply for free memberships at museums, zoos, botanic gardens, and concert halls throughout the city. All you do is present your card at the box office of your desired institution by 12/31/15, and you receive a gratis one-year membership. Examples of membership options include, but are not limited to:
  • Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo: Free general admission for one adult to the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo with discounts at select gift shops and restaurants. Invitations to Members' Evenings and free e-newsletters.
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Unlimited free admission for 1 and 2 single-time-use guest passes. Admission for member plus 1 guest to all members-only summer events and 10% discount at Garden Shop and Cafe. Library borrowing privileges.
  • Carnegie Hall: "Friends Membership" includes 4 complimentary rehearsal passes; early access to the best seats available; half-price ticket offers on select Carnegie Hall presentations; and invitations to cocktail parties, discussions, & member-appreciation events.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art: Free admission for 1 to the Main Building and The Cloisters museum and gardens; members-only emails with advance notice of exhibitions, programs, events, classes, and festivals; special offers on select ticketed programs; discount on Audio Guide rentals in nine languages; and complimentary guided tours of the collection in 10 languages.
  • MoMA PS1: Unlimited free admission; exhibition opening invitations; special offers for select ticketed events; conversations with MoMA PS1 curators and artists; private receptions at MoMA PS1; and a 10% discount at the M. Wells Dinette and the ARTBOOK @ MoMA PS1 Book Store.

IDNYC card

As you can imagine, demand for IDNYC is pretty high. I signed up for an appointment in January, and had to wait until April to snag an appointment. My shiny new ID came in the mail just this week.

To get your IDNYC, check here that you possess the right qualifying documents, and schedule an appointment at one of the several appointment centers throughout the 5 boroughs. You might have to wait a while, but that's ok--you will be able to claim your free memberships through the end of the year and they will begin the day you claim them. Then you go in and go through a short and sweet interview (just like at the DMV), they take your picture (but oddly you can't smile with teeth), and you should receive your new ID within 2-3 weeks.

The IDNYC website has a thorough list of helpful FAQs that I'd highly recommend you check out if you have any specific questions. So what do you think, will you apply?


Roosevelt Remembered

This past weekend I crossed something off my ever-growing NYC bucket list. After visiting the FDR compound up in Hyde Park, NY two years ago and learning that Theodore Roosevelt is the only US President born in NYC, I have been wanting to take a tour of his childhood brownstone to get a glimpse into what life in the 1800's was like ever since. 

I was thrilled to find out that tours of the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site (28 E. 20th Street) are free and given on the hour from 10-4 Tuesday-Saturday (with no tours at noon). I managed to sneak into the last tour of the day with Ranger Sam. Personally, I think it's pretty badass to be a ranger, but to be a ranger in NYC is a pretty unusual feat. Sam led our tour group, mostly comprised of tourists young and old as well as some families, through the house. I was a bit disappointed to learn that this wasn't the original house because after Mr. Roosevelt decided he didn't want to re-buy the house in 1916 when he was President, it was torn down. After he died in 1919, his sisters Anna and Corinne and niece Eleanor decided to rebuild and refurnish to create the historical site it is today. So while the frame is not original, the layout, most of the furniture and decor is.

Teddy Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site
Something that definitely struck me throughout the house was the lighting, or lack thereof. Sam told us that even though the house is currently outfitted with electricity, they tried to recreate the amount of lighting the family had in the late 1800s with gas lamps. Needless to say, it was dark, and the dark wallpapers only added to the gloominess of some rooms. However, some of the furnishings were amazing. The original marital bed and furniture set were carved from the most gorgeous wood and the glass-work throughout the house was magnificent. Teddy's grandfather was a glass trader so the family benefited immensely from that, in addition to the fact that the grandfather was fairly wealthy and bought the house for his son (Teddy Sr.) as a wedding gift. Not too shabby right?

First Floor Entranceway 
Fireplace in the Living Room
Teddy's Chair as a Boy
Glass Door in Between Living and Dining Rooms (and Ranger Sam)
Dishes were a Gift from Eleanor Roosevelt Upon Completion of the House
Dining Room
Decor in the Parlor
Chandelier in the Parlor
The four Roosevelt children were raised by their aunt Anna. Suffering from asthma as a child, Teddy's father built him a mini gym in the back of the house that he would have to climb through a window to access. He was encouraged to work out to build his lungs big and strong and to overcome his asthma. The museum has an old medicine ball on display of the likes he used to use. Obviously, we all know this exercise worked out in his favor as we can all recall images of the Rough Rider, cowboy President. Another interesting fact we learned was that as a child, Teddy was really interested in taxidermy. He would collect dead animals he found throughout the city and came to found the "Roosevelt Museum of Natural History" in his room at the tender age of 8. After he father helped found the American Museum of Natural History in 1869, Roosevelt donated his taxidermied works, a tradition that would continue throughout his adulthood in the Dakotas. In fact, a good portion of the animals on display in the museum today (bears, deer, lions!) were killed and donated by TR.

Doll in the Nursery
View to the makeshift gym in the back of the house

The actual crib that TR slept in as a baby
Marital Bed
Roosevelt had a long career in government, elected as the youngest NY State Assemblyman three years after he graduated from Harvard University. He also went on to serve on the US Civil Service Commission and as the NY City Police Commissioner. He was known as a strict leader, vastly reforming what was known as one of the most corrupt police forces in the country. Sam told us he would go around the city late at night and early in the morning, policeman to policeman, and check up to see if everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing when they were supposed to be doing it. He also established the first bicycle police squad and standardized the use of pistols by officers.

Newspaper Cartoon About TR as Police Commissioner
From there he went on to be governor of New York State, then Vice President of the US under William McKinley, and then President of the US after McKinley was assassinated. He is most know for establishing the Pure Food and Drug Act (which eventually led to the FDA), his conservation efforts, and for establishing the Progressive "Bull Moose" Party. I could continue to give you facts, but Ranger Sam recommended reading his biography by Elting E. Morrison, who used the research lab in the historic site to write the book.

If you find yourself with a spare hour in Union Square, I would highly recommend a visit to the TR Birthplace National Historic Site. It's transporting, informative, and just plain interesting. You can follow the historic site on Twitter. So what do you think about our 26th President? Do you think had a pretty plush life growing up in the 1800s? Have you been to the historic site? Are you planning to go?


Go to the Guggenheim

Sometimes, I just need a good dose of art. And living in NYC, I have no excuse not to get one at a major cultural institution known round the world. A couple of Saturday's ago, I went to the Guggenheim for one of their Pay-As-You-Wish evenings. If you don't know about this promotion, you should definitely check it out. Every week, the museum, known for it's modern and contemporary collection and special exhibits and housed in one of the most unique Frank Lloyd Wright buildings I've ever seen, opens it's doors to the public from 5:45-7:45 p.m. While you still have to wait in line and get a ticket, you can hand the cashier anything from a $20, to a nickel, to zero and everything in between. Even on a cold, rainy evening, the museum drew quite the crowd, but as soon as the clock hit 5:45, the line practically dissolved. (Note to self: don't get there early next time!).

I handed the cashier $2, checked my coat (the Guggenheim is one of those check it or wear it institutions when it comes to coats) and headed up the spiral ramp. One thing I love about this museum is that you can completely go through everything in two hours and feel content and not rushed. The architecture of the building is also very innovative for an art museum.

The current exhibition is called "The Great Upheaval: Modern Art from the Guggenheim Collection 1910-1918." It is arranged chronologically and as you go up the ramp, each spiral encompasses another year. Prominent artists in this exhibit are mostly from Germany, Austria, France and Italy and include Franz Mark, Vasily Kandinsky (one of my favorites), Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Umberto Boccioni, among others. With more than 100 works spread throughout the exhibit, it provides an interactive and comparative view of the art world around the time preceding and during World War I.

A side exhibit, if you hadn't seen enough of him yet, "Kandinski at the Bauhaus, 1922-1933,"  showcases many of the artists geometrical and flat planed paintings from the time period in which he taught at the renowned German school of art.

Vasily Kandinsky, Decisive Rose (Entscheidendes Rosa), March 1932. Courtesy of Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
So the next time you find yourself with an itch for culture and nothing to do in the pre-dinner hours on a Saturday, head over to the Upper East Side for some awesome art at the Guggenheim. Your brain and your wallet will thank you.


A Neue Experience

I'm constantly amazed by the selection of museums in this city. It's easily to get overwhelmed in the Metropolitan Museum, and though I love it there, I've been making a conscious effort to get to know all of the smaller, more specialized institutions scattered across a relatively small patch of land.

The Neue Galerie is one of those museums that I've walked by several times and didn't even know how to pronounce it correctly (it's German so "noy-yah" instead of "new" as I was saying). After being alerted to the museum's First Fridays program, when the museum opens up to the public for free from 6-8 p.m. on the first Friday of every month, I decided to give it a go and start my weekend off with some culture.

Another awesome thing about smaller art museums in the city is that they all seem to inhabit remarkably interesting buildings. The Neue Galerie is housed in a Beaux-Arts style mansion built in 1914 and last inhabited by Grace Wilson Vanderbilt in the 1950s. After serving as the offices of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, it was purchased by Serge Sabarsky, an art dealer, and Ronald Lauder, of Estee Lauder, in 1994 and restored to its original state. Celebrating its ten year anniversary this year, the museum opened as a center for German and Austrian art in 2001. Walking into the building, I like to imagine myself living in a mansion like that and what it must have been like. The architects who restored the Neue Galerie took great pains to keep everything original, even converting the dining room into a fully-functioning restaurant, Cafe Sabarsky, that packed quite the crowd on Friday night.

Sadly, after arriving and checking my coat, I learned that the museum was in installation and only had two rooms open for viewing of their permanent collection. However, I thankfully arrived right when a curator-led tour began and I learned a lot of interesting factoids. The main artists featured are from the early 1900's Germany and Austria -- including Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimpt and Oskar Kokoschka. Schiele has this thing for bony fingers which is quite disturbing, but did some really interesting landscapes. Klimpt's infamous paintinPortrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (infamous because it was stolen by the Nazi's, restituted to it's proper heirs, but then sold to the museum in 2006), is beautiful and on display with sculptures it was presented alongside with a hundred years ago. The gallery also displays three gorgeous clocks made with precious materials and intricate decoration.

After leaving the museum, my friends and I decided to make it a theme night and had dinner at Heidelberg on 2nd Avenue. Between the bratwurst, sauerkraut, spaetzle and mug of beer, dinner was delicious and a definite new experience. I would highly recommend combining the two activities for a date-night or casual friends outing. 

The schedule of First Fridays is on the Neue Galerie website. For March, the museum will be fully open and attendees will get to tour the latest exhibition Birth of the Modern: Style and Identity in Vienna 1900. I plan to go back and see what the rest of the museum has to offer. Have you been to the Neue Galerie? What do you think? 


Now You See Him, Now You...

When smushed into the far back corner of an overheated 6 train, nose way too close to something, let's just say, overripe, and having to stand on my tip toes to reach the ceiling pole, I often wish I was a master of escape. If you have ever been intrigued by the real master of escape, Harry Houdini, I would highly recommend a visit to the Jewish Museum before the exhibit Houdini: Art and Magic disappears.

In this well-organized compendium of photos, video, diaries and magical contraptions (including THE Chinese Water Torture Cell and THE straightjacket), you will learn more about the Hungarian-born boy turned Wisconsinite locksmith apprentice, turned worldwide magical wonder than you ever wanted to know. You will see images from perhaps one of the most disturbing tricks around, which involves swallowing needles and thread, and then pulling the threaded needles back out. Yeah, it makes me cringe too. You will also have the opportunity for a photo op with the master himself.

Head over to the museum on Saturdays for free admission. While you're there, be sure to check out the other exhibits, including the display of menorahs from the museum's permanent collection.


Grab Yourself Some Free Museum Cultcha!

Want to go to a museum this weekend without the guilt of not paying the suggested admission fee? With so many great institutions around the city, it's a shame not to explore once in a while and the Smithsonian Magazine is giving you the chance to check one out for free this Saturday! Good news for my non-NYC readers, this promotion is good on hundreds of museums around the country!

You can see the Notorious and Notable exhibit at my favorite Museum of the City of New York or spend the afternoon in the mesmerizing building of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. The majority of the major NYC art museums have tickets up for grabs as well. So clear out your Saturday and grab some cultcha - for free!

Click here to get your tickets.