10 NYC Venues for Intriguing Talks and Events, Plus Trivia

More than perusing exhibitions on our own or going to a film screening, we know attending an intimate lecture, talk back or reading allows us to discover something we may have never learned otherwise. When else would you get the opportunity to pick the brains of industry experts, award-winning authors, leading artists and filmmakers? Here, venues that host a multitude of intriguing programs on any given day.

1. 92Y
A true New York institution, the 92nd Street Y, or 92Y, hosts anywhere from 180-200 talks a year, from art lectures and music talks to political debates and big topic discussions, such as the science of morality.  The center has hosted more than 40 Nobel laureates along with a wide range of speakers, including Elie Wiesel, Marc Jacobs, Mos Def and Padma Laskhmi.


Courtesy of 92Y

Just this month, the 92nd Street Y will host Paul Auster, Cal Ripken Jr., Suze Orman, Arianna Huffington, Barbara Walters and John Varvatos, among many others. See all 92Y talks.

Trivia: In 1984, the first celebrity graced the 92Y stage. Who was it? (Answer at the end of the article.)


2. New-York Historical Society
New York’s first-ever museum, founded in 1804, the New-York Historical Society offers a fascinating view into the city’s history and transformation. Not only for those have a deep appreciation of history, the museum offers frequent public programs for those who value lifelong learning. Most lectures and discussions are held on weekday evenings while weekend conferences are hosted in the mornings, with an optional continental breakfast.


Courtesy New-York Historical Society / Glenn Castellano

This season, discuss U.S. history with a focus on Justice Thurgood Marshall, learn about the great battles of the Civil War, meet renowned architect Robert A.M. Stern to learn important lessons from the evolution of the modern city, and more. See all public programs at the New-York Historical Society.

Trivia: The New-York Historical Society is currently in its eighth home on 77th and Central Park West in Manhattan. Where was it located before the move in 1908? (Answer at the end of the article.)


3. Brooklyn Museum
Aside from its near-daily curator-led gallery tours, the Brooklyn Museum hosts cutting-edge programs with contemporary artists and authors to discuss feminism in art, civil rights, artist entrepreneurship, and other fascinating topics.

Photo by Justin Van Soest

Photo by Justin Van Soest

Upcoming, Piper Kerman, author of the memoir Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Woman’s Prison, will lead a discussion with formerly incarcerated women who have initiated criminal justice reform, Civil rights leader and congressman will speak about the Civil Rights Movement, and poet Sonia Sanchez and musician Bernice Johnson Reagon offer insights into their experience as activists. See more Brooklyn Museum talks and programs.

Trivia: Brooklyn Museum is New York City’s second largest museum. How many works are in the museum’s art collection? (Answer at the end of the article.)


4. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The largest museum in the entire country, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has regular programs of free lectures and panel discussions or ticketed talks in conjunction with special exhibitions, its permanent collection and other related topics.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The latest in the Met’s ticketed talks is Spark, a new conversation series led by Peabody Award-winning host Julie Burstein in a cabaret-style program. The talks aim to shed light on the relevance of the museum’s exhibitions in today’s world. See all talks at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Trivia: How many square feet does The Met currently occupy? (Answer at the end of the article.)


5. New York Public Library – Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
With a metaphorical goal to make the library’s marble lions “roar,” LIVE from the NYPL is a series directed by Paul Holdengräber that brings big names to its stages for talks ranging from literature and philosophy to pop culture, art and music.


Peter Aaron / ESTO

This spring season, expect economist Malcolm Gladwell, authors Chuck Palahniuk, Jeffrey Eugenides, Katerine Boo and more. See the entire spring season of LIVE from the NYPL and other library lectures.

Trivia: What are the names of the lion statues in front of the main New York Public Library? (Answer at the end of the article.)


6. Queens Museum
Perhaps the most diverse of public programs, Queens Museum partners with community groups, including the New New Yorkers program that offers educational programs to adult immigrants in Spanish, Mandarin and Korean, and hosts discussions and lectures with a focus on cultures from around the world.


Courtesy of Queens Museum

Coming up: an afternoon of Indo-Caribbean art and literature with writers and authors, conversations with all types of artists, and more. See all talks at Queens Museum.

Trivia: In which 2011 movie was the New York City panorama featured? (Answer at the end of the article.)


7. Museum of the City of New York
From screenings and talk-backs to lectures on New York’s distinctive history, the Museum of the City of New York celebrates the city’s diversity and perpetual transformation, and experts shed light on the museum’s current exhibitions and lead walking tours throughout the city to learn about its transformation in history.


Museum of the City of New York. Amesse Photography

This season, attend a film screening about the height of New York graffiti, discover what New York was like during the Gilded Age through a walking tour of Manhattan’s Gold Coast, take in a historical snapshot of New York City politics with author and historian Thai Jones, and more. See all talks at the Museum of the City of New York.

Trivia: There are two statues in museum’s front facade, facing Central Park. One is of Dewitt Clinton. The other of a Founding Father of the U.S. Who is it? (Answer at the end of the article.)


8. The Frick Collection
A pristine mansion from the Gilded Age, The Frick Collection is home to outstanding European sculpture and decorative arts with masterpieces by Bellini, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and more. Formerly the home of Pittsburg industrialist Henry Clay Frick, the museum opened to the public in 1935 and houses the Frick Art Reference Library, a leading institution for research in art history and collecting.


Courtesy of The Frick Collection

Along with gallery talks, The Frick hosts seminars and lectures on art history and collecting as it pertains to its exhibitions. Most lectures are held in the evenings and offer a unique way to experience the museum after-hours. See upcoming lectures at The Frick Collection.

Trivia: The Frick Collection’s Fifth Avenue Garden is the setting of many events, including Spring at The Frick. The garden’s magnolia trees in the garden are some of the largest in the New York area. How many magnolia trees are there? (Answer at the end of the article.)


9. Barnes & Noble
The book retail giant Barnes & Noble hosts numerous free author events and book launches throughout the year, from the likes of Malcolm Gladwell to Ishmael Beah to Chelsea Handler.


Courtesy of Barnes & Noble

Each Barnes & Noble has its own schedule of events, so be sure to check out what’s happening at each branch. The retailer’s Union Square location and outposts on the Upper East and West sides generally have a regular scheduling of author talks. Find a Barnes & Noble near you and see all upcoming talks.

Trivia: Where in New York City, in 1886, did Barnes & Noble bookstore originate? (Answer at the end of the article.)


10. Strand Bookstore
As much a tourist attraction as a staple for New Yorkers, Stand Bookstore is home to 18 miles of books. Weekly events are held in the store’s rare book room, located on the third floor of its East Village home, where leather-bound books fill up the floor-to-ceiling shelves.


Courtesy of Strand Bookstore

Past guests have included David Sedaris, James Franco and Marina Abramovic. See all upcoming author events at Strand Bookstore.

Trivia: When Strand first opened in 1927 on Fourth Avenue, it was one of 48 bookstores on six city blocks. What was this area or strip of stores known as? (Answer at the end of the article.)

Trivia Answers
1. 92Y: Dustin Hoffman
2. New-York Historical Society: Second Avenue and 11th Street.
3. Brooklyn Museum: Approximately 1.5 million works.
4. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Approximately 2 million square feet.
5. The New York Public Library: Patience and Fortitude. They were initially named Leo Astor and Leo Lenox after the NYPL founders. Decades later in the 1930s, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia renamed them Patience and Fortitude based on the qualities he felt New Yorkers would need to survive the economic depression.
6. The Queens Museum: New Year’s Eve, directed by Garry Marshall.
Museum of the City of New York: Alexander Hamilton
8. The Frick Collection: Three; two trees are Saucer Magnolias and the third located by the flagpole is a Star Magnolia.
9. Barnes & Noble: Cooper Union Building
10. Strand Bookstore: Book Row