A Library Card Will Get You Into the Guggenheim (and 32 Other Places)

Posted July 16, 2018 2:35 p.m. EDT
Updated July 16, 2018 2:36 p.m. EDT

NEW YORK — Do you have a New York City library card? If so, you can now go to the Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim and 31 other prominent New York cultural institutions for free.

These institutions, which also include the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and MoMA PS1, have partnered with New York City libraries to launch Culture Pass, an initiative designed to encourage underserved communities to take advantage of the city’s cultural bounty. Library cardholders of the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Library will be able to reserve passes to these venues for free, albeit once a year.

“Some people are intimidated by museums,” Linda Johnson, president of the Brooklyn Public Library, said in a phone interview. “They shouldn’t be shut out of all the wonderful cultural offerings that are available to New York City dwellers.”

The participating venues cover all five boroughs and also include the Noguchi Museum; the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum; the Rubin Museum and Wave Hill. Library cardholders can log onto culturepass.nyc and use their library card number and pin to make reservations; some of the institutions, like the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, allow entry for up to four people.

The initiative gives the opportunity for institutions to get people in the door who might previously not have had the awareness or means.

“We are committed to giving back to the community and to making art more accessible to all New Yorkers,” Adam Weinberg, director of the Whitney Museum, said in a statement.

A publicity campaign will distribute explanatory materials in Spanish, Mandarin, Russian and Arabic across the city.

While the city’s municipal identification cards also offered memberships to cultural hubs like Carnegie Hall, those memberships only lasted for a year. Johnson said she hopes Culture Pass will continue indefinitely and expand the number of partners.

“We’re going everywhere that anybody sends us to sign more institutions up,” she said.

Library cardholders can also watch some 30,000 movies for free through the streaming platform Kanopy.

The initiative is funded by several philanthropic foundations as well as the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.