Standout cultural memberships in NYC
May 22, 2012 5:41 PM   Subscribe

Which museums, venues & institutions in New York City have the most rewarding membership programs?

I'm thinking about getting a cultural membership as a gift for an NYC resident. Are there institutions you've really enjoyed being a member of? Why? I'm particularly interested in performance venues - one thought I had was Le Poisson Rouge - but am open to any suggestions in the arts, other museums, private libraries, etc, especially places on a slightly smaller scale than MOMA, the Met, etc. Recipient is probably more interested in alt-culture than high culture, if that makes sense. Open to any part of the city though slight bias towards lower Manhattan. Thank you!
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The New Museum would be a good choice.
posted by R. Mutt at 5:56 PM on May 22, 2012


posted by griphus at 5:58 PM on May 22, 2012

The Met individual membership is $100, so if you go more than 4 times in a year, its pretty well worth it. Pluses: it's huge. I've been going to visit it since I was a kid, but since getting a membership I've been stumbling over some new areas that I had never seen before. So that's pretty neat. Also there are quite a few really interesting guided tours offered that are interesting to attend. Member previews to shows are bit "eh" for me, although I've gone to a few. They are just as crowded, if not more, then on the regular open days so I don't so much see the point some times. Have never been to the member's dining room. Basically I just like wandering around looking at the paintings, so I mostly have it for the much reduced rate of admission I end up with.

And yes, it's a bit of a pain to get all the way uptown - I regularly clock it at over an hour by public transit from my home to the museum on Sunday mornings.
posted by lyra4 at 6:10 PM on May 22, 2012

I don't have it myself, but I wish I had St. Ann's Warehouse.
posted by xo at 6:22 PM on May 22, 2012

I think BAM is great, though I'm not sure it qualifies as smaller scale that you are looking for.
posted by hooray at 6:38 PM on May 22, 2012

I have a membership to the Museum of the Moving Image, and it's great. Lots of screenings of classic and new film festival movies on the big screen, all included in membership. As well as the usual advance tickets for events.
posted by gaspode at 7:47 PM on May 22, 2012

It's silly to join the Met, since the entry fee is a suggested donation, there's no additional fee for temporary exhibits, and IIRC (I used to work at the Met and sold several memberships a day for over a year), there aren't a lot of benefits to joining at the Individual level. I mean, it's pretty much getting into the museum for free and a 10% discount in the bookshop. Most guided tours and special events are open to the public, and since it's a huge museum that's easy to visit, the member previews are fairly pointless unless you absolutely MUST see every show before the hoi polloi.

The Met is also, to be frank, a very wealthy institution in no real need of your $100. Better to join a smaller arts institution that could actually use the money and might offer better benefits to members.

I think MoMA is good bang for the buck, and I imagine the Guggenheim would be too since the exhibits change so often and mean almost a complete turnover to the whole museum.

Seconding the New Museum, though I don't know what the perks are.

I think it's possible to become a member of Film Forum and Anthology Film Archives, if your friend is a film buff.
posted by Sara C. at 8:04 PM on May 22, 2012

I used to be a member of the MET and I stopped their ruthless with phone calls and mailings and i didn't see any real benefit to the membership.

The American Museum of Natural History actually has a nice membership program including discounts to shows, some free tickets and tours and events for members only including some really fun behind the scenes tours.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 8:13 PM on May 22, 2012

Yeah, you get lots of bonus shows and member tours with the AMNH membership, and the fee is basically 2 for 1. MOMA is great, too, because you can get several guests in for only $5 a piece, and it covers PS1. We also like BAM Cinema Club. Go once a month, and the membership pays for itself. Plus, you get early access to special screenings.
posted by lunalaguna at 9:16 PM on May 22, 2012

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