Cool Culture provides complimentary entry to nearly 90 Art and Cultural institutions in New York City. We do this via our Family Pass Program that is administered through Headstart programs and Title 1 schools.
If your school is not part of the Family Pass program, many New York City museums and cultural institutions still offer free admission to all families. Check the list below to see what days and times you can explore for free!
Want information on specific activities to do with your child? If so, “like” us on Facebook.
Museums with Free Admission
African Burial Ground Memorial Site
The Bronx Museum of the Arts
Federal Hall National Memorial
The Federal Reserve Bank
General Grant National Memorial
The Harbor Defense Museum
The Hispanic Society of America
Irish Hunger Memorial
Leslie–Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
Museum of American Illustration
Museum of Biblical Art
The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology
National Museum of the American Indian
The New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Queens County Farm Museum
Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America
Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden (grounds and botanical garden only)
Socrates Sculpture Park
Soldiers and Sailors Monument
Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace
Museums with Specific Times for Free Admission
The list below shows museums that are free on specific days. Some of the free admissions are only for general museum areas and the may charge for specific exhibitions. Be sure to visit the museums’ website or call for updated information.
Museum at Eldridge Street Tours, 10am to noon
Bronx Zoo Pay what you wish for grounds access. Does not include admission to special exhibitions like Butterfly Garden, Congo Gorilla Forest and JungleWorld.
Museum of Jewish Heritage 4pm to 8pm
New York Botanical Garden Free grounds access all day. Does not include access to the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, special exhibitions (such as The Orchid Show), Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, Rock and Native Plant Gardens (April–October) or Tram Tour.
Staten Island Zoo After 2pm
Queens Botanical Garden April through October, free hours on Wednesdays from 3pm to 6pm and Sundays from 4pm to 6pm. November through March, admission is free at all times.
Museum of Modern Art 4pm to 8pm
Whitney Museum of American Art Pay what you wish, 6pm to 9pm
Morgan Library and Museum 7pm to 9pm
The New York Historical Society Pay what you wish, 6pm to 8pm
New York Aquarium Pay what you wish, after 3pm
International Center of Photography Pay what you wish, after 5pm
Museum of the Moving Image 4pm to 8pm
Japan Society 6pm to 9pm
New York Hall of Science 2pm to 5pm, September through June
Rubin Museum of Art 6pm to 10pm
Asia Society 6pm to 9pm, September through June
Historic Richmond Town 1pm to 5pm
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden 10am to noon
Museum of American Finance
New York Botanical Garden Free grounds pass, 10am to 11am
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Pay what you wish, 5:45pm to 7:45pm
The Jewish Museum
Wave Hill 9am to noon
First Saturday of the Month
Brooklyn Museum Free admission and programs, 5pm to 11pm
Third Saturday of the Month
El Museo del Barrio
Frick Collection Pay what you wish, 11am to 1pm
The Morgan Library and Museum The McKim Rooms only, 4pm to 6pm
New York Hall of Science 10am to 11am, September through June
Queens Botanical Garden 4pm to 6pm through October 31
Studio Museum in Harlem Noon to 6pm
The Token Response Activity challenges children to encounter important questions and distinctions about art and to share their responses. Through interactive play, children learn to evaluate art with different criteria, differentiate between preference and judgement and respect differences of opinion about art
1. Give each individual a set of 8 tokens that each represents an idea:
Blue ribbon: “best in show”
Clock: took the most time to make
Hand: best crafted, best technique or skill
Heart: most liked
House: one that you most want to take home
Light bulb: best idea
Money: that might cost the most
2. Ask each person to look at all the works of art first, and then place the token by the work of art that matches that idea, in their opinion (e.g. the "heart" token represents the work they personally like the best, the "dollar bill" token matches the one they think is worth the most, etc.)
3. Discuss. Questions to consider: Which works have the most tokens? Are they the same tokens? If you were to convince someone that the work you marked “best” is the best, what would you say? Is it possible to think an artwork is good, but not want to take it home? Why? More discussion questions available here: http://bit.ly/1aGj3lb
Purpose: This game encourages people to make choices, express preferences, and exchange and embrace multiple perspectives. With children, the emphasis is on valuing others opinions. With older students and adults, discussions also lead to ideas about the value of art, originality, economics, and beauty, to name a few.
For families new to cultural institutions, this activity can bolster a family’s confidence and understanding that no background knowledge is required in order to personally connect with works of art.
Variations: The activity does not have to be used in its entirety. For young children, limit to just one or two tokens. For example, in our program Literacy Through Culture, the Studio Museum in Harlem has used “Which work of art do you want to take home?” as a successful prompt for engaging families in an independent gallery exploration at the Museum.
We have attached the tokens, which you can download and use with your children, in your school or with your cultural institution.
Apparently, I saved the biggest museum for last. The galleries of The Metropolitan Museum of Art cannot be seen in a day, let alone in the few hours I had left before it closed on one of my last days in the city. Rather than spending my time exploring the temporary exhibitions, I found myself drawn to my usual haunts: 19th & 20th century paintings.
While I love discovering new artists, I also love returning to those whom I’ve studied and appreciated for years. As part of my first Art History class in college, I wrote a paper on an artist named Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. After spending a good two months “with” the French painter and poster-maker, I feel a certain connection with his art. Now, whenever I find myself in a position to look at late 19th-century art, I instantly search for any of his work!
In the case of the Met, I easily found what I was looking for. I had visited this wing often enough. There I stood in front of this painting and others by my favorite painter, transfixed by a magic one feels when seeing the exacting strokes of another person’s vision. The rapidity of the brushstrokes, the brightness of the colors, the texture of the cardboard canvas. (Obviously, this little picture doesn’t do it any justice.)
After spending a sufficient amount of time gazing at Toulouse-Lautrec’s works, I decided to use the last ten minutes before the museum’s closing to my advantage. I just had to seek out a new favorite section of the Museum.
Within the Asian wing of the Met are a few galleries dedicated to the art of India. In them I found ancient statues of Hindu gods and goddesses taken from temples and ruins that I had visited during my travels in the country. In those final ten minutes of my visit, I had found another way to reminisce from afar!
So I guess that’s the takeaway from my summer of learning -- always be looking for something new to love.
Besides the statues of deities in the ancient Indian art rooms, I also discovered these centuries-old royal earrings. I know I never saw anything like these while in India -- and I know that I definitely have something new to love!
Until we meet again!
One of the main things I love about museums is learning about other cultures. This is also why I love traveling. I spent this past winter and spring studying abroad in Jaipur, India. I made many friends and memories there, and it has been tough to come back to the United States and adjust back into my “old” life.
My post-study abroad life now includes a lot of Indian take-out, watching too many Bollywood movies and visiting museums which exhibit Indian art and culture. Chief among New York institutions dedicated to South Asian culture is the Rubin Museum of Art.
I made it a point to visit the Museum on a Wednesday, when they present a weekly free concert series featuring South Asian music. When I studied in India, I lived with an incredible host-family who all happened to be professional musicians.
As a fellow musician who also comes from a musical family, I could not have felt more at home (yet still very much a foreigner) when I could overhear my host-dad’s sitar lessons and my host-mom giving voice lessons. Besides my host-father, my “brother” and “uncle” also played sitar, so the sounds of this instrument truly colored my experience in India.
Thus, it was with both the happiness of memory and the sadness of distance that I listened to this instrument in Manhattan, 7388 miles from my Indian home.
After the sounds of the sitar died away, I went about exploring the galleries of the Museum; one exhibit in particular resonated deeply with me - Candid: The Lens and Life of Homai Vyarawalla. Vyarawalla was India’s first female photojournalist, snapping away during the time of Independence in 1947. Her photographs include numerous of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and its famous freedom fighter Mohandas Gandhi. Seeing candid pictures of these two men was heartwarming yet jarring, as I had spent a semester learning about them without seeing so much humanity and personality in my textbooks.
Of all the photographs, my favorite featured Victoria Terminus, a train station and a beautiful relic of the colonial age in Mumbai. After traveling in the city, both this building and the man shown peddling his wares are familiar sights to me; it made me smile and tear up to see them again in this photograph, welcoming me back into my memories of India.
Seeing such a familiar landmark through another’s eyes reminded me that I’m not the only one who misses a far-off land and culture; we all have an India in our hearts and it’s something special when art can recall a memory for us.
And now I return to my Indian take-out… After all, it’s also something special when food can recall memories.
Until next week!
Candid: The Lens and Life of Homai Vyarawalla can be seen at the Rubin Museum of Art through January 14, 2013. Take a summer trip to India without even leaving the city.
Image 1 courtesy of the Rubin Museum of Art.
Image 3 courtesy of thedailybeast.com
Ever wondered what an intern actually does? Well at Cool Culture, it doesn't involve fetching coffee! What it does involve is hard work, dedication and answering questions for our Web site.
Some of the coolest interns joined us for the summer to work on our blog, our upcoming Cool Culture Fair and even enrolling hundreds of schools into the program for 2012 - 2013. Learn all about them!
Like most New Yorkers, I ride the subway every morning and every evening. I must say, I adore the city’s public transportation system. I love commuting without needing to drive (or even walk very far). I love seeing new faces every time I enter the train. I love wondering about these new faces and where they are going in such a rush. And I definitely love being able to blame public transportation if I’m late for something, even though it was probably my own fault.
Despite spending so much time on these trains, I have realized that I know next to nothing about a system so integrated into my daily life – or at least I didn’t, until last Saturday when I paid a visit to probably one of the world’s only underground museums: The New York Transit Museum.
For someone who loves art museums, this might seem like a strange choice, but I find the subway system so incredible that spending the day learning about it was very well worth it.
Well…I suppose the subway doesn’t seem so incredible when I’m crushed between fellow commuters on the A train, getting upset at how long it takes me to get into midtown.
Then I remember how much work and planning went into the trains, the stations and the routes. I mean, who decided which stations express trains would stop at? And how did they decide where to build all these stations? How do the trains even stay on the tracks?!
I’m happy to say that I learned some answers to these and numerous other questions I had about public transit in New York. At the Transit Museum, I learned all about the old systems of horse-carts, trolleys and elevated trains. I learned about the 1941 Harlem bus boycott that resulted in the Fifth Avenue Coach’s hiring of black employees. I learned that there was a special Diamond Jubilee subway token used from 1979-80 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the subway system. I learned that it used to cost a nickel to ride the subway. A nickel!
Most importantly, I learned about something that I use every day in the city: something that millions of New Yorkers and visitors (myself included) take for granted all the time.
After leaving the old subway station that now comprises the Museum, I called my grandmother – a native New Yorker and Arizona transplant who loves to hear about everything I do in her city. We chatted about how, as a teenager, she used to take the train from her home in the Bronx to Rockaway. She and her cousin would comb the beach, and as she put it, go “pick up some sailors” – she eventually found the right one in my grandfather.
She’s always amazed that that same train ride now costs $2.50.
Then I used my hard-earned $2.50 to take the A train home.
Until next week!
The Transit Museum has several long-term exhibits on display, including: Steel, Stone & Backbone: Building New York's Subways 1900-1925 and On the Streets: New York's Trolleys and Buses.
Check out their family programs here: http://www.mta.info/mta/museum/pdf/NYTM_ccalendar.pdf
Image 1 courtesy of the New York Transit Museum.
I have always prided myself on wanting to learn about others: other cultures, other lifestyles, even far-away lands. In my mind, there are two main ways that this can be successfully (as much as such a task can be successful) achieved: through travel and through discourse. The first involves a physical change, the latter, a mental shift; I have experienced and enjoyed both this summer.
Coming from rural Maine, a summer in New York City is like nothing else. New people, new cultures and new stories surround me. The variety of people that I pass on my way to the subway every morning and on my way back to my Crown Heights apartment each evening never cease to astound me. If I don’t want to cook dinner for myself, I have the option of ordering-in any of a dozen different cuisines.
Like most city-dwellers, I don’t often speak with people I see on the street…but I do think about them – neighbors, passers-by, shopkeepers. I make up stories about the man who sits outside the Laundromat and bids me a good morning; I share a sense of camaraderie with those who I attempt to cross busy Atlantic Avenue with; I wonder how the man who tends the Greenmarket cart can stand in the heat all day, every day.
Recently, the Brooklyn Museum offered me the chance to more deeply engage with others. This time, however, I would be listening to real stories and perspectives, rather than simply watching and wondering.
“Question Bridge: Black Males” is an interactive film composed of the questions and answers of 150 black men from all over the country. It is framed as a dialogue between the men, who play the roles of interviewer and interviewee. They discuss family, love, community, education, violence, and the place of black men in American life. Hopefully, it also sparks dialogue between its viewers.
Although being neither black nor male, I found myself very drawn to what the participants said. They spoke of love and life, their hopes for the future: universal ideas that resonate across us all, regardless of background.
I'll admit, I thought I would have nothing in common with the men in the video and with my new neighbors, but I was wrong. We’re all here together experiencing family, love and community in ways that may seem different but are actually very much the same. And usually, that’s enough, isn’t it?
Until next week!
“Question Bridge: Black Males” is no longer on display at the Brooklyn Museum. However, you can learn more about the project and watch clips from the film here: http://questionbridge.com/
Image 1 courtesy of Cool Culture.
Image 2 courtesy of www.raqueldeanda.com.
Last year, I signed up for an Art History course on a whim, mostly because the title sounded interesting, but also because two of my best friends happened to be taking it (that’s college for you). “Modernism and Mass Culture” turned out to be my favorite class. The course focused on social art history: linking the creation and reception of art to historical and social causes.
This classroom was where I learned about the power of explaining what I was seeing and feeling – voicing my observations. At first, whenever a new painting was shown on the projector screen, I remember feeling anxious at the possibility of having to speak about the work of art. I am no artist, and definitely didn’t feel like I had the “vocabulary” to describe all the elements I was seeing.
When asked to speak about a painting, I often wondered what I could say about it that hadn’t previously been said! Looking at a classic, adored by millions, what could I say? But sure enough, I found myself simply explaining what I saw before me instead of worrying about whether my ideas were novel or “right.” Pretty soon, I would feel excited, rather than anxious, at the prospect of dissecting a new painting.
Dijkstra’s photographs and videos often focus on children and the relationship between artist and subject.
I was struck by one video in particular: “I See A Woman Crying (Weeping Woman)” (2009).
The piece is comprised of three video screens which show a group of schoolchildren voicing their observations of Pablo Picasso’s “Weeping Woman."
While you (the viewer) aren’t shown the Picasso, the children’s descriptions paint a unique picture of the artwork. At first, they seem nervous and cautious in their observations, yet eventually the speed and creativity of their ideas grow until all are adding their own two cents.
They spend most of the video wondering why the woman depicted is crying; “Maybe she’s sad because she looks so weird, and no one else looks like that.”
By the end, however, one brave boy wonders, “Maybe she’s crying because she’s so happy, like when someone wins X Factor.”
Who knows? The important thing is to do the wondering.
Until next week!
“Rineke Dijkstra: A Retrospective” can be seen at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum through October 8, 2012.
Image 1 courtesy of Cool Culture.
Image 2 courtesy of www.flickriver.com.
Hi, my name is Nadine and I’m a museum-aholic. My life has consisted of periods of binging and purging on the arts - binging when my family and I would take trips to New York City, purging when we returned home to small-town Maine, where my cravings could not be sufficiently satisfied. Home was a place so far removed from the museum world that all one could do was anxiously await the next trip.
This love has since translated into academic interests and career possibilities, which is why I come to you today as the Communications Intern at Cool Culture. Access to the arts was so critical to my development as a child that I want to help make this access possible for thousands of New York families.
So what’s so great about learning in museums? For me, the experience of walking around a corner to find a piece of art I’ve never seen before, something new to discover and admire – something new to learn about – is thrilling. Even more, I love walking around a museum corner and running smack-dab into an artwork that I’ve studied in my Art History coursework – now I get to see it in person and relate back to all that I had previously learned.
I love the experience of looking at a new and confusing painting, reading its description, and then looking back at the work and seeing something novel within it. Even more, I love coming up with my own ideas about the painting, working my way around what the placard says, what the painting says and what my Art History professor says.
Cool Culture’s motto is “Your family’s ticket to a lifetime of learning.” Well, over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my experiences on this blog as I continue my lifetime of learning – sharing what I’ve gleaned from the early education and museum worlds, non-profit work and city-living. Every Thursday, check back in to join me on my summer of cultural discovery.
Until next week!