Cheap Ways to Experience World Class Culture in New York (Part 2)

This is the second post detailing how to experience world class culture in NYC. In this post I’ll list my favorite museums and galleries, which are either free or have a suggested donation as well as museums that have cheap nights.

Free/Recommended Admission (I recommend paying this if you can afford it but just know that you don’t have to):

The Met (1000 5th Ave) is one of the best art museums in the world. I especially love the sculpture gallery at the Met. It is just astonishing how realistic and emotive a piece of marble can be. 

The American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West and 79th St) is one of my favorite museums. I remember coming here on many school trips and being amazed by the life-like exhibits. The best thing about this place remains the giant full-size blue whale that hangs above the main gallery.

The Cloisters (99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park) is a great place to spend an afternoon. The art is housed in an old Monastery and you can have a picnic in Fort Tryon park afterward while looking a great views of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge.

El Museo del Barrio (1230 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street) is a museum of Latin and Caribbean culture. They also often have really cool music shows going on on weekends.

Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn) is a really awesome art museum. They have a lot of contemporary artists as well as some ancient artifacts. The last exhibit I saw here was a retrospective on Ai WeiWei; it was well-curated and many parts of the exhibit (especially the twisted iron rods from the Szechuan earthquake) were very poignant.

One of my favorite places for amazing art are the galleries housed in converted warehouses in Chelsea. The Gagosian Gallery (555 W. 24th St) mixes contemporary artists with well known classics. The Jonathan Levine Gallery (529 W. 20th St #9) celebrates street art. The David Zwirner (525 W. 19th St) and Pace Galleries (508 W. 25th St) are also worth visiting. If you love photography, the Aperture Gallery (547 W. 27th St, Fl 4) is a great place to visit. This is by no means an exhaustive list; just walk around the area between 19th and 27th Sts and 10th Avenue, and if anything looks interesting, chances are it’s free and open, so feel free to have a look.

Museums/Outdoor Spaces Free on Specific Days/Times:

The Museum of Modern Art MOMA (11 W. 53rd St) is free every Friday night from 4pm to 8pm. This place is chock full of modern/contemporary art. You can check out the Pollocks, the Lichtensteins, and also Starry Night by van Gogh.

The Guggenheim (1071 5th Ave) has a pay what you wish every Saturday from 5:45pm to 7:45pm. The space is extremely interesting and they always have cool exhibitions going on. I saw one of my favorite exhibitions here; it was a review of Spanish art from El Greco to Picasso and it was extremely enlightening to see the evolution of Spanish art and the recurring themes throughout.

The New Museum (235 Bowery) has a pay what you wish every Thursday from 7pm to 9pm (suggested is $2). The New Museum always has really awesome contemporary shows.

The New York Hall of Science (47-01 111th St, Queens) is free September through June, on Fridays from 2 to 5 pm and on Sundays from 10 to 11 am. This is an awesome place to learn about science and they often have demonstrations accompanying the exhibits. Plus they have an awesome science-themed playground.

The Bronx Zoo (2300 Southern Blvd, Bronx) is pay what you wish every Wednesday. Zoos are a bit controversial but I remember loving every trip to the zoo when I was a kid. For those who can’t go to far flung places to see these animals in the wild, the Bronx Zoo is a wonderful place.

The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens (990 Washington Ave, Brooklyn) are free from November to February on Weekdays and also on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10-noon throughout the year. It’s very peaceful to walk through the grounds and see the beautiful flowers in bloom. They also have a promenade full of cherry blossom trees, which is beautiful in March.

The New York Botanical Gardens (2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx) are free on Wednesdays. This place is huge and pretty much has every plant imaginable. It’s a good place to go if you want some greenery but don’t have time to venture too far from NYC.

I hope I’ve shown you that much of New York culture is accessible to everyone. Happy travels!

Featured Image by Geoff Stearns

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