New York City

One-Year Free Membership To NYC Museums

city id

Cost may be a barrier to an art museum membership. But now there’s an opportunity to get a one-year free membership to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The Studio Museum of Harlem, El Museo del Barrio, MoMa/PS1 and 28 other New York City cultural institutions.

The New York City Municipal ID, launching this month, will give all ID card holders access to one-year free membership packages at some of the City’s leading cultural institutions. The one-year membership will be comparable to each institution’s standard one-year individual or family membership package, depending on the institution. It will give ID card holders a range of benefits including free admission, and access to special events, and discounts to museum shops.

There has been a rush in applications for the ID causing long waiting times for appointments. However, if you don’t need the ID right away, wait a few weeks, and then apply in order to get your museum membership. The “year” begins when you get the card.

The 33 institutions participating in this effort belong to the Cultural Institutions Group (CIG) which is comprised of private nonprofit cultural organizations located on City owned property. Check for specific benefits per institution. See below for a complete list of participating institutions:

1. Bronx County Historical Society
2. Bronx Museum of the Arts
3. New York Botanical Garden
4. Wave Hill
5. Wildlife Conservation Society (includes Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and Prospect Park Zoo)

6. Brooklyn Academy of Music
7. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
8. Brooklyn Children’s Museum
9. Brooklyn Museum

10. American Museum of Natural History
11. Carnegie Hall
12. New York City Ballet
13. El Museo del Barrio
14. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
15. Metropolitan Museum of Art
16. Museum of Jewish Heritage
17. Museum of the City of New York
18. New York City Center
19. Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival
20. Studio Museum in Harlem

21. Flushing Town Hall
22. Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning
23. Museum of the Moving Image
24. New York Hall of Science
25. MoMA PS1
26. Queens Botanical Garden
27. Queens Museum
28. Queens Theatre

Staten Island
29. Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden
30. Staten Island Children’s Museum
31. Staten Island Historical Society
32. Staten Island Museum
33. Staten Island Zoological Society

Where Art Meets History: The New York Historical Society


 You may have heard of the New York Historical Society.  But you probably didn’t know that this is the oldest museum in New York City (it was founded in 1804), and it houses over twenty-five hundred American paintings from the colonial period through the twentieth century. It also holds one of the country’s leading collections of Hudson River School landscapes. Their permanent collection also includes some 800 sculptures and over 8,000 drawings. These cover the beginnings of American art when it was dominated by European artists, up through the 1860s.

Usually it’s the special exhibits at the NYHS that draw me there.  Past exhibits I’ve enjoyed include: The Armory Show at 100 and Swing Time: Reginald Marsh and Thirties New York.


This week I went to see “Bill Cunningham: Facades,” and “Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War,” two current exhibits. They were both very interesting and so different. I happen to be there just as a free guided tour began. I took advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the permanent collection and discovered the greatest reason of all to visit NYHS: The Luce Center


One level of the Luce Center

Located on the 4th floor of the Society, The Luce Center is home to  nearly 40,000 objects from the New-York Historical Society’s permanent collection. You can see art and artifacts spanning four centuries,  from the nation’s premiere collection of Tiffany lamps, to “historical touchstones such as the draft wheel that played a role in one of the worst urban riots in United States history. “

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 I only got to see a small part of the collection. One of the objects that stood out  was a horse-drawn carriage from the late 1770’s. Owned by the Beekman family (of “Beekman Place”); it is one of only three such 18th Century American coaches to survive in original condition.  There was also a whole case devoted to artifacts from Congregation Shearith Israel, the Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue founded in 1654. One of the funniest objects I saw was a ceramic cockroach trap from 1840.

It’s worth going to NYHS just to see this collection but hurry; it’s undergoing a massive renovation beginning in July 2014.