Want Free Museum Entry With Your Library Card? Too Bad. Most of the New ‘Culture Pass’ Tickets Are Already Sold Out

You'll have to wait until November to use your library card for free tickets to popular institutions like MoMA.

The Whitney Museum of American Art. Photo by Ed Lederman, courtesy the Whitney Museum.
The Whitney Museum of American Art. Photo by Ed Lederman, courtesy of the Whitney Museum.

This past Monday, New York City’s three library systems announced the Culture Pass initiative, which gives library card holders free tickets to 33 local cultural institutions. Now, just four days later, the tickets are already sold out for 10 of the most popular participating museums.

Organizers claim that 9,500 passes have already been reserved, and that 4,962 were still available as of last night. “Because of the visibility and demand, Culture Pass has already heard from additional cultural organizations that want to join and are speaking with current participants about adding more passes,” a representative told artnet News. “The program was shaped with the intention to continue to expand – and the immediate response from the public and institutions alike has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Library patrons wishing to attend the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, the Frick Collection, the International Center of Photography, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, the Morgan Library and Museum, Wave Hill, the New York Transit Museum, and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum will now have to wait until November to use Culture Pass, or cough up regular admission fees.

The initiative, which allows library card holders to reserve free tickets online for up to four guests, has the potential to save New Yorkers a lot of money. To visit the Intrepid costs a whopping $33. General admission to the Whitney, Guggenheim, and MoMA is $25.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Photo by G. Scott Segler, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Photo by G. Scott Segler, via Wikimedia Commons.

Tickets are still available for the Brooklyn Museum, which is pay as you wish anyway, for weekdays in October, as well as the Jewish Museum beginning September 1 and the Drawing Center from August 1.

New tickets will be released on the first of each month, with reservations available three months ahead of time. Therefore, library card holders can reserve their November tickets for sold-out institutions at the beginning of next month. (Anyone who lives, works, or attends school in New York State is eligible for city library cards.)

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Photo: Jean-Christophe Benoist via Wikimedia Commons

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Photo by Jean-Christophe Benoist via Wikimedia Commons.

“There’s always a backlog” to take out a best-selling new book,” Brooklyn Public Library president and CEO Linda E. Johnson told the Wall Street Journal, calling for patience from New Yorkers who are unable to reserve tickets to their museum of choice.

In the meantime, here’s hoping that more of the city’s best-loved institutions join the program. Notable omissions currently include the New Museum, the Museum of the Moving Image, the New York Botanical Garden, and the Bronx Zoo.

The Culture Pass initiative is a joint venture between the New York Public Library, Queens Library, and Brooklyn Public Library—libraries in the Bronx and Staten Island are part of the NYPL—with support from New York’s Cultural Affairs Department, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Charles H. Revson Foundation, and the New York Community Trust’s Thriving Communities program.


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