Nights at the Museums in NYC

By Alison Durkee

New York City is packed with things to do once the sun goes downincluding at the city’s world-class museums. Whether you’re looking to check out exhibitions, celebrate the holidays, or delve into a new topic, discover the city’s museums after dark with these upcoming talks and events.

Image: Joe Schulz/Flickr

Several museums throughout the city offer ongoing weekend evening events, which let visitors enjoy the museum’s collections after hours along with music, special exhibition admission, drinks, and more. These events will continue this fall 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 Brooklyn Museum will also continue their Target First Saturdays series December 1 with an event celebrating the Best of the Borough, featuring music, film, poetry, visual art and more. Science fans, meanwhile, can head to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum for their adults-only AstroCafe event November 16, which will look at the new global space-age economy.

In addition to these special events, many museums also offer free admission one evening each week or month, including MoMA (Friday nights), 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).

This winter will also bring special holiday offerings from the city’s museums. MoMA PS1 will celebrate the season with their artist holiday party December 14, featuring seasonal treats, cocktails, and after-hours exhibition viewing of Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts, above, while the Guggenheim marks the holidays with music at their Rotunda Holiday Concert (December 16-17) and annual production of Peter and the Wolf. The family-friendly production, taking place this year from December 1-9, includes music and danceand narration by famed fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi. Jewish New Yorkers can celebrate Hanukkah at the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s Light Up the Night gala December 6, or take a look at menorahs from around the globe as the Museum at Eldridge Street’s new exhibition opens the evening of December 6. For a more nondenominational winter event, head to the American Museum of Natural History December 20, where they’ll celebrate the winter solstice and look forward to the cosmic year ahead.

In addition to offering special events, museums throughout the city will also give New Yorkers the chance to learn more about a variety of topics through special evening talks. History buffs can head to the New-York Historical Society this winter, where they’ll offer upcoming talks on reproductive health in 19th century New York (November 16), Congress in the lead-up to the Civil War (December 3), and the final months of World War I (November 19). Those looking to learn more about today’s conflicts, meanwhile, can learn more about the what’s going on in the Middle East at an event with VICE News at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum December 18.

Photo by Kourosh Keshiri.

Rather than looking back at history, other museums will offer looks forward at how to enact change. A December 6 event at the Museum of the City of New York will consider the future of New York’s housing industry, as five proposals are presented that share bold visions of how to make the city’s housing market more affordable. The Rubin Museum of Art will host a conversation November 16 with congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and artist and humanitarian Chandrika Tandon on how society can adopt policy changes for a sustainable future, before focusing further on the climate crisis at a conversation with Naomi Klein on Land Rights and Climate Change December 2. Fans of science can also get a more cosmic perspective this November at the American Museum of Natural History’s Astronomy Live event November 27, which will look at what makes Earth unique compared to its planetary neighbors.

Other events will focus on the world of design; the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum will offer a look at 1930s modernism in interior design December 4, while the Museum of the City of New York will host a conversation with four fashionable New Yorkers December 11 on the meanings of what we choose to wear. Cinema and literature lovers, meanwhile, can hear from author Jonathan Sanfran Foer and artist Julie Mehretu December 6 as they share the films that have inspired their life and work. For a closer look at one particular story that has inspired millions of readers and moviegoers around the world, learn more about the process of translating Harry Potter into different languages at a New-York Historical Society event December 11.

The Museum of Food and Drink will also offer cultural events of a different kind this November and December, with upcoming events to whet museumgoers’ appetites after the sun goes down. Discover the food that was eaten at the fall of empires throughout history at a special Dinners of the Past event November 29, or delve into the connection between Jewish culture and Chinese food at a December 20 event featuring demonstrations, presentations, and a Kosher Chinese Night Market. On December 12, hear what went into creating Paul Freedman’s The 10 Restaurants That Changed America rankings at a conversation between Freedman and Mayukh Sen, which will include dishes from two of the 10 top restaurants.


New York moves fast. Don’t miss a thing. Sign up for Thought Gallery’s weekly Curriculum, the best of smart NYC delivered right to your inbox.