Nights at the Museums in NYC

By Alison Durkee

New York City’s museums aren’t just a place to spend the day anymore—once the sun goes down, the city’s cultural hotspots play host to talks, events, special evening opening hours, and more. Wring as much culture as you can out of your summer by making your way to these upcoming talks and events.

Museums throughout the city offer ongoing events on Friday evenings, which let visitors enjoy the museum’s collections after hours along with music, special exhibition admission, drinks, and more. These events will continue this summer with the Rubin Museum of Art’s K2 Friday Nights, MetFridays at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Frick Collection’s First Fridays. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum’s recurring Astronomy Night on Friday, July 19 will pay tribute to the Apollo 11 moon landing, complete with stargazing and a talk with NASA scientist Noah Petro.

New Yorkers looking to have a fun night out at the museum can also check out the Museum of the City of New York’s summer Uptown Bounce series, which are free block party events featuring music, activities, performances, special gallery talks and more. The weekly events take place each Wednesday at 6pm through August 14. Those heading to the museum can also take place in a trivia night on August 1, along with special moonlight movie screenings on August 21 and September 10.

For a spookier sort of event, head downtown to the Merchant’s House Museum for their candlelight ghost tour on July 19—or keep things lighter by checking out the museum’s weekly summer evenings in its “secret” 19th century garden, which take place Thursday evenings through August. New Yorkers can also get a glimpse of the past on July 19 at the Morgan Library and Museum, where they’ll be paying tribute to the Gin Craze of the 1750s with a special evening of revelry.

In addition to these special events, many museums also offer free admission one evening each week or month, including the Museum of the Moving Image (Friday nights), the Neue Galerie (first Friday of each month), the Museum of Arts and Design (Thursday nights), and the Asia Society (Friday nights). While MoMA is closed for a renovation through October, the museum’s weekly Free Fridays will take place in Long Island City at MoMA PS1.

Photo: Vince Smith/Flickr

For music, the Museum of Chinese in America will offer a free music + mic night on July 26, while The Met’s upcoming offerings include a special lunar-themed performance by Australian cabaret performer Kim David Smith that same evening. Head to the American Museum of Natural History for a first look at a brand-new Moby-Dick musical by Tony-nominated composer Dave Malloy and Hadestown’s Tony-winning director Rachel Chavkin, which will be performed July 26 and 27. Excerpts from the new musical will be performed in a fitting spot: underneath the museum’s famed blue whale. Over in Queens, MoMA PS1’s Warm Up music series will also continue on Saturdays through August 31.

Those looking to hear from the experts can also attend a variety of evening museum talks this summer. Though July 4 may be behind us, those wanting a new look at the Revolutionary War can learn more about gender-bending war hero Deborah Sampson at a talk July 24, or go in-depth on founding father Alexander Hamilton at a talk that same evening. For a look at the arts, head to Guggenheim Museum for a talk with artist Jenny Holzer July 30, or hear artists talk about the world through the museum’s Summer of Know series pairing artists with practitioners and thought leaders. Artist Allison Janae Hamilton and attorney Elizabeth Yeampierre will appear as part of that series August 6 to discuss climate change and environmental justice. Another event merging the arts and the broader world will take place July 31, as the New-York Historical Society looks at women’s role in the history of photography, examining the form as both art and journalism.

The Museum of Mathematics on East 26th Street will give museumgoers the chance to enjoy some more “calculated” events. A July 30 talk will focus on game strategies that connect math and real life—along with some tips to win at Monopoly. On August 6, learn more about solar eclipses with astronomer Jay Pasachoff, including the role that mathematics plays in predicting them.

Other upcoming talks will focus on the universal subject of food and drink. The Museum of Chinese in America will host author Anna Francese Gass for a conversation about the lives and recipes of immigrant women July 25, while the Museum of the City of New York will pay tribute to the Gin Fizz a la mode with a talk and tasting August 8. Of course, one of the best spots to learn more about food is Brooklyn’s Museum of Food and Drink, which will continue their evening offerings throughout the summer. Upcoming events include a tofu making demonstration and tasting July 25; the lasting legacy of Tiki culture August 15; the culture of corn August 1; and an August 22 spotlight on school lunch.

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