Cultural membership ideas for someone in NYC for one semester
September 16, 2016 1:37 PM   Subscribe

My sister-in-law, originally from Europe, is a visiting student in NYC this Fall. For her upcoming birthday, I thought a cultural membership or NYC experience would be fun. Maybe something her student budget would not ordinarily be spent towards. Based on this question and other threads, I thought membership to MoMa, Whitney, or New Museum may be options. The only issue is that she is only here from now till December 2016 and the memberships are for 1 year. Or maybe a trapeze class.

She has visited NYC multiple times before, is getting her PhD in philosophy, is fit and active, has already has joined a yoga studio. She is not much of a foodie and I am not sure how interested she would be in Broadway shows. Price range is approx. $80-$100. What should I get her?
posted by allthingsconsidered to Shopping (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
ClassPass is pretty fun; for $75, you get a month's access to all sorts of crazy fitness studios.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:43 PM on September 16, 2016

Which European country is she from?
posted by ClaireBear at 1:43 PM on September 16, 2016

Maybe buy her a gift card that will cover several visits to the Tenement Museum? There are about 5 different tours and a number of talks, guided walks, and tasting events to choose from. I did one of the apartment tours and it was phenomenal, can't wait to go back and try the rest. It makes the experience of human migration feel incredibly real and present, and connects NYC with Europe in an interesting way.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:53 PM on September 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

I came to mention the Tenement Museum as well. It is outstanding.
posted by Dragonness at 1:56 PM on September 16, 2016

Consider that if she's affiliated with a NYC-based university, she may already have free entrance to some museums , or other steep student discounts.
posted by kickingtheground at 2:03 PM on September 16, 2016 [6 favorites]

Well, a MOMA membership would still work while she's here. It would pay for itself by the 4th trip, in free visits alone, and there are a bunch of other benefits, including members' early hours. I spent 15 minutes alone with one of the Screams, back in 2013. There are other great benefits, including cheap guest tickets, and she could give her member card to a friend when she leaves. And it's tax deductible!
posted by benbenson at 2:18 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Look into IDNYC, the NYC identification card. I'm not sure if she'll qualify given her specific situation, but if she does, it's free and she will get access to quite a few cultural institutions.
posted by JimN2TAW at 2:35 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'd advise getting her a membership to something that is extremely close to her classes - that way she won't have to make a special trip to get there, instead she'll be able to duck in for 10 minutes if she's early to class, or take a break in there if it's raining. That's the kind of frequent visit that can, in my experience, create a real relationship with an institution.
posted by bq at 2:44 PM on September 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

If you end up going with a museum membership, hands down I would pick MoMA unless it's a biennial year (I've lost track), in which case I'd coin toss between MoMA and The Whitney. Both of them are large museums with shows that rotate frequently, which is really the only reason you'd go to the same art museum more than once or twice a year. The Guggenheim is also a good candidate, since the bulk of the museum is temporary shows rather than a large permanent collection.

The nice thing about MoMA is that (last I checked) members were eligible to get cheap guest passes for friends, which is another thing that might inspire frequent visits.

The Tenement Museum is great but I can't see going a lot unless she is a huge urban design or 20th century US history geek. One visit kind of gets the point across for most people. (I say this as an urban design and NYC history dork who has been once and would maybe go again if given the chance.) That would be more of a charitable donation and less of a gift to make actual use of.
posted by Sara C. at 2:54 PM on September 16, 2016

Does she like music? Why not a subscription to the Met or the NY Philharmonic? I believe they both have create-your-own series options, so she can pick performances while she's here.
posted by praemunire at 3:14 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you want something unusual, but amazing, get her some tickets to Sleep No More. It's obviously not a membership deal, but it is the kind of location specific experience you won't find elsewhere, and there would be a lot of rich cultural layers for a philosophy student to unpack.
posted by Diagonalize at 3:54 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

92nd St. Y has a lot of stuff going on.
posted by at at 9:37 PM on September 18, 2016

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