Nights at the Museums in NYC

By Alison Durkee

New York City has some of the best museums in the world—and their offerings don’t end when the sun goes down. Get out and explore the city’s museum scene after hours with these upcoming evening talks and events.

New Yorkers looking to visit museums on the cheap should check out those that 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). Museumgoers can start taking advantage of MoMA’s Free Fridays when the museum opens after a lengthy renovation on October 21—and in the meantime, the museum’s weekly Free Fridays will take place at MoMA PS1. The South Street Seaport Museum will continue their Free Fridays series through October 11, which include visits aboard the museum’s ships and last from 3-7pm.

Museums throughout the city also offer ongoing events on weekend 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 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’s monthly Target First Saturday series will continue on October 5 with an evening devoted to Latinx Pride, which will feature music, dance, art workshops, film screenings, and more. Families, meanwhile, can head to the Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum on October 25 for their special Halloween-themed Astronomy Night, which will include stargazing, a chance to learn about the universe’s spookiest planets, and a special pop-up planetarium.


Those wanting to celebrate Halloween will also have other opportunities at the city’s museums this October. Party down at MoMA PS1’s annual Halloween Ball on October 25, themed to the Valley of the Dolls, or join Tim Gunn for the New York Public Library’s Halloween Masquerade that same evening, which features a literary costume parade, scary stories, games, a DJ, and more. Throughout the month of October, museumgoers can have a spooky evening at the Merchant’s House Museum, which will be offering candlelight ghost tours of their historic and haunted building as part of their “Spirited” October events. Fans of Edgar Allen Poe, who lived blocks from the Merchant’s House Museum, can also head to the museum for a one-man performance of Poe’s works through October 13 and from October 31-November 3, or enjoy a talk October 7 that explores Poe’s New York through his own writings.

Science fans can also put a scary spin on the subject with the American Museum of Natural History’s Spooky Space talk on October 29, which will focus on the universe’s scariest phenomena. Beyond Halloween, the AMNH will also offer a lecture October 7 on NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft and the ancient volcanoes on Mercury with planetary geologist Brett Denevi.

Visual art lovers looking for talks this October, meanwhile, can head to the Morgan Library & Museum October 4 for a talk on John Singer Sargent’s portrait drawings in charcoal, or to the Frick Collection October 16 to explore Manet’s “lost years” between 1875 and 1877. That same evening at the Museum of the City of New York, architect and author Anthony Alofsin will sit down with writer, performer, and visual artist Patti Smith to discuss New York as a “crucible of creativity” and how the city has, and will continue to, serve as an incubator for innovation through the lens of Frank Lloyd Wright and his work.

Other upcoming talks will focus on politics both past and present. The Asia Society and Museum will consider the “great decoupling” between the U.S. and China and their technological arms race in a talk October 16, and on October 10 author Nicolas Berggruen will consider democracy and how to govern in the age of globalization and digital capitalism. Look back on U.S. presidents of the past at the Fraunces Tavern Museum’s October 24 talk on the secret plot to kill George Washington and the New-York Historical Society’s October 10 talk on Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, or consider how the pursuit of liberty has traditionally inspired American identity and nationalism at a talk November 7. If you’d rather take a breather and not think about politics, learn how to relax from the world’s stresses at the Japan Society on October 23 with a talk on the practice of “forest bathing” and how to use nature for its therapeutic effects.

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