Nights at the Museums in NYC This Spring

By Alison Durkee

New York City is full of some of the greatest nightlife in the worldand, as it turns out, some of it can be found at the city’s world-class museums. Whether you’re looking to check out exhibitions, party, or learn something new, here are some ways to spend your evenings at the city’s museums this spring.

Museums throughout the city will keep their doors open in the evening for parties and special events this April and May. MoMA will offer a special Party in the Garden benefit event on May 31, while the Cooper Hewitt will offer a stimulating evening of hands-on activities for the senses at their April 18 Experience Café. Enjoy upcoming exhibitions on  special opening nights by checking out The Art of Kiki Smith at the Museum at Eldridge Street (April 11) and Perspectives of a Diverse City at the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden on April 13. Younger museumgoers can also get in on the parties this spring. The New Museum will host its annual Teen Night on April 27, featuring art-making, live music, and more. On April 12, the American Museum of Natural History will present Moon Dance, an after-hours scavenger hunt and party specifically geared toward the museum’s young patrons.

David Bowie as The Thin White Duke on the Station to Station Tour, 1976. Photo by John Robert Rowlands.

In addition to these one-off events, many museums will continue their ongoing special evening offerings this spring, including the Rubin Museum of Art’s K2 Friday Nights, MetFridays at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Frick Collection’s First Fridays. These Friday events offer an easy way to enjoy the museum’s collections after the museum’s regular hours, along with music, special exhibition admission, drinks, and more. The Brooklyn Museum will also continue their Target First Saturdays series this spring on April 7 with an evening dedicated to David Bowie, complete with music, a Bowie-inspired photo booth, and a full evening of special programs.

Those just looking to check out exhibitions after the sun goes down can also take advantage of free nights at museums throughout the city. Many museums 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).

Danh Vo, “She was more like a beauty queen from a movie scene,” 2009, mixed media, 96.5 x 54.5 cm, a Chantal Crousel, Photo: Jean-Daniel Pellen, Paris © Danh Vo.

In addition to seeing artwork on display, there are also a number of chances to hear from the artists themselves at museum nights this spring. Head to MoMA for their Modern Monday talk with filmmaker Shannon Plumb (April 16), or hear from digital artist Josh Begley in conversation at the International Center of Photography on April 25. On April 27, the Guggenheim will host artist Danh Vo, whose work (above) is currently on exhibition at the museum with the show Danh Vo: Take My Breath Away, for a reflection on his artistic practice. In addition to these current artists, take a more historical look by learning about Flemish Baroque artist Peter Paul Rubens and his political and diplomatic efforts on April 11.

Over at the American Museum of Natural History, science lovers will also have plenty to learn at upcoming evening events this spring. Go beyond Earth’s atmosphere to learn more about the universe with upcoming astronomy events, including a look at the planetary systems seen through radio telescopes on April 9, a session on extrasolar planets and their potential living conditions on April 24, and a look at what we can learn from the wavelengths on space objects on May 29. For a look at life a bit closer to home, meanwhile, head to the AMNH for a session on how studying ocean life can help us improve technologies on May 2. On April 13 and 14, join Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart for a more musical evening, as Hart plays a live performance after a special look at the exhibition Our Senses: An Immersive Experience, which includes a soundscape based on the drummer’s work. This April will also bring Earth Day, which museumgoers can celebrate from morning ‘til night at the AMNH’s Earthfest on April 22, featuring special tours, programs, performances and talks.

But science and artist conversations are far from the only talks to expect at museums this spring. History fans can learn about the rise of authoritarianism from Russia to Europeto Americaat a session on April 10, while those with more of a penchant for historical fashion can hear about Yves St. Laurent’s muse Loulou de la Falaise on April 25.

Other events will offer a look at our current culture: An April 20 event will use Martin Luther King Jr.’s book Where Do We Go From Here as a starting point to pose the same question about race relations today, while an April 16 event will look at how the Commandments to honor thy father and mother can be interpreted in an age of blended families and same-sex parents. The Guggenheim Museum will kick off a two-day event on Culture and its Discontents on April 6, which includes multiple sessions considering and debating today’s top cultural issues.

To examine culinary culture, the Museum of Food and Drink will offer special looks at Asian cuisine this spring, including a look at Chinese baiju liquorcomplete with a tastingon April 26 and a consideration of chopsticks and why they took hold as Asia’s primary eating utensil on April 19. The Museum of the City of New York, meanwhile, will look at culture a bit closer to home, including how New York City’s food supply is set to evolve on April 18 and a discussion on the subway system with MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota on April 26.

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