The suggested donation was bupkis.
New York City is known worldwide as a cultural center, though some residents very rarely visit any art, history or science museums. But yesterday’s 37th annual Museum Mile Festival along Fifth Avenue was the perfect opportunity to get a learn on and practice your hushed museum voice.
The event closed the famous “Museum Mile” from 82nd Street to 105th as the doors to nine of New York City’s premier cultural institutions were thrown open to all. The participating museums were El Museo del Barrio, Museum of the City of New York, The Jewish Museum, Cooper-Hewitt-Smithsonian Design Museum, National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Neue Galerie New York, Goethe-Institut New York/German Cultural Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The festival began in the 1970s during the city’s financial crisis as a way to increase awareness of New York’s cultural institutions, build a wider museum audience and increase support of the arts. The first was held in 1978, and more than a million visitors have since attended.
After kicking off at Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the festival ran through the early evening when many residents or commuters were coming out of work. In addition to free admission to every museum, the festival featured events for kids, including face painting, a funny clown, magic show and balloons.
There were also city-inspired activities like collaborative sidewalk chalk drawing in front of the Guggenheim and a hip-hop dancing exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York. Cross-cultural programs included making Mexican-inspired art and a display of Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa’s art and film at El Museo del Barrio.
Free exhibitions on view at the Guggenheim were German painter Justin K. Thannhauser’s “The Thannhauser Collection, A Year with Children” and an exploration of narratives through storytelling in “Storylines: Contemporary Art.” The Met featured an exhibition of design and an exploration titled “China: Through The Looking Glass” on how the nation’s aesthetics have effected design in the West.
Noah Zuss is a reporter for TheBlot Magazine.