Nights at the Museums in NYC This Summer

By Alison Durkee

New York City is full of things to do once the sun goes downeven 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 summer.

Museums throughout Lower Manhattan will open their doors on June 19 for Night at the Museums, an evening of free admission and special programming at a variety of downtown museums and historical sites. History buffs can learn more about the neighborhood’s Revolutionary-era history with a trip to Federal Hall National Memorial or the Fraunces Tavern Museum, while those looking to learn more about other cultures can head to the National Museum of the American Indian or China Institute. Other participating museums and sites include the National September 11 Memorial Museum, South Street Seaport Museum, the National Archives at New York City, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

New Yorkers aren’t limited to this annual event when it comes to getting into New York’s museums for free. 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).

In addition to these free evenings, many museums will continue their ongoing special evening programming 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 on July 7 with an event dedicated to Reimagining Independence, featuring music and dance performances, art projects and more.

Image: Stuart Anthony/Flickr

Another spot that comes alive when the sun comes down is the American Museum of Natural History, where adults can have their own special Night at the Museum when the museum offers a sleepover for grown-ups on June 22. Those hoping to spend their evenings learning more about the natural world, meanwhile, can check out upcoming evening talks at the AMNH centered on a throwdown between sea and land (June 19); Manhattanhenge (July 12); and the spectacular sights of the summer sky (June 26). On select Fridays in July and August, the museum will also offer special evening bat walks through Central Park, giving attendees a special look at the nocturnal creatures who call the park home.

The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago (1974-1979), © Judy Chicago. Gift of The Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation. Collection: Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.

Foodies also have several upcoming evening events to enjoy. The Museum of Food and Drink has a slate of summer programming that includes sessions on sourcing meatballs with the Meatball Shop (June 21), the history of our relationship with dairy (June 28), and barrel aging and fermentation – complete with a tasting (August 30). On July 26, the museum will also offer a special Dinner of the Past centered on food from the time periods of famed feminists as inspired by Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party. Over at the Museum of the City of New York, the forgotten  combination of gin and oysters will make a reappearance at a talk and tasting on June 26.

Courtesy of Julia Wertz via the Museum of the City of New York

The New-York Historical Society will host talks with a series of special guests, including a session with David Copperfield on the history of magic (June 16) and a conversation between television host Samantha Bee and journalist Irin Carmon (June 25). New Yorkers wanting to learn more about the city they call home can head to the Museum of the City of New York for talks on the future of waste in NYC (June 21) and NYC in the age of hyper-gentrification (June 28, above), or make their way to a June 21 discussion on the new World Trade Center with architect Daniel Libeskind. For a look at the city’s past, meanwhile, join the Fraunces Tavern Museum for a special Independence Eve walking tour of the city’s Revolutionary history on June 29. The Guggenheim Museum will offer their own evening talks with their Summer of Know series, which includes upcoming discussions on feminism and Muslim identities (June 17) and journalism as activism in the age of Trump (June 19).

Music fans have plenty of upcoming concert series to enjoy this summer, including MoMA’s Summergarden series and sister museum MoMA PS1’s Saturday Warm Up concerts, which feature live and electronic music performances from inside a special architectural installation. The Cooper Hewitt Museum will offer music and dance programming through their Cocktails at Cooper Hewitt series, which includes upcoming performances by Juilliard musicians, Los Angeles-born singer MILCK, and Heidi Latsky Dance. The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden will also offer their own Summer Garden Concert on June 19, which includes an after-hours museum tour and complimentary beverages. For a different kind of performance, enjoy a night of laughter at the Jewish Museum’s Comedy Night on June 21, which will be hosted by Josh Gondelman and feature comedy from Emmy Blotnick, Alison Leiby, and Roy Wood Jr.

Title card from Frances Stark’s The Magic Flute (2017).

Museums will also be the place to catch film screenings this summer. The Museum of the City of New York’s Moonlight & Movies series will include upcoming screenings of Bronx Gothic (June 19) and short films from 60s-era filmmakers Albert and David Maysles (July 11). In addition to its regular slate of film programming, MoMA will also offer the New York City premiere of Frances Stark’s The Magic Flute (June 18), an experimental film adaptation of Mozart’s classic opera. The Museum of the Moving Image, another NYC spot for great film screenings, will offer a special evening event on June 24, as the museum screens Showgirls with an introduction by It Doesn’t Suck: Showgirls author Adam Nayman.


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.