Even the city that never sleeps has something for its art lovers — cocktail parties! At a number of the city’s top museums — sometimes with free admission — nights become the best time to soak up some culture with gentle prices. Take advantage of these after-dark events, and live out your own “Night at the Museum” fantasy without breaking the bank.
Manuscripts, memoirs, and music highlight the collection at Midtown’s Morgan Museum with refreshments just up the stairs at the delightful Morgan Café (open until 8pm). Admission is free on Fridays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Through March 2010, explore the life of novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817) at the “A Woman’s Wit” exhibit which showcases Austen’s personal letters, finished and unfinished manuscripts, and drawings. The exhibit also includes a short documentary featuring interviews about Austen’s legacy. After exploring her life, get a taste of the 19th century with the Morgan Café’s Americano Cocktail, dating back to 1860.
225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street, Manhattan, (212) 685-0008
Rubin Art Museum
Opened in 2004, the Himalayan culture museum, located in Chelsea, has both beautiful artwork and delicious cocktails. Friday nights, the café becomes the K2 Lounge, and drinks are served 2-for-1 between 6 and 7pm. To sweeten the deal, gallery admission is free from 7 – 10 on Friday, for a bit of culture after your cocktails.
150 West 17th Street, Manhattan, (212) 620-5000
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Fridays and Saturdays between 4 and 8:30pm, venture uptown to witness the Met’s transformation into a cocktail lounge. The Great Hall Balcony Bar on the second floor is the setting for live classical music and drinks. Try a signature drink like the Apple Martini to enhance this exciting Big Apple experience. The museum closes at 9 so you’ll still have ½ hour to check out one last art exhibit before you have to leave.
(In the summer, the rooftop is the place to go for top-notch cocktails amid the sculpture exhibits with knockout views of Fifth Avenue and Central Park).
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street,Manhattan, (212) 535-7710
Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History
SonicVision, a digitally animated alternative music show, has Space Oddity written all over it. Presented on select Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 and 8:30pm, this musical and visual event features a mix by Moby, with tracks by Radiohead, David Bowie, The Flaming Lips, David Byrne, and more for only $15 ($12 for members). Like a Pink Floyd Laser Show for Generation Y, SonicVision provides an eye (and ear)-opening experience like no other. No cocktails are served, however – you’ll have to wait until the show is over to check out some of Columbus Avenue’s nearby watering holes.
Central Park West at 79th Street, Manhattan, (212) 769-5200
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Art After Dark, First Fridays is the Guggenheim Museum’s signature party event the first Friday of every month. Capacity is limited so members get priority and free admission. Admission for all others is $25 (cash only) for a full night of music played by some of NYC’s best DJs and a night of wandering among some of the best art in the city. Doors open at 9pm, and the party swings until 1am! Cash bar.
Also try the wonderful new Wright restaurant and its bar downstairs, open at least until 11pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
1071 Fifth Avenue at 88th Street, Manhattan, (212) 423 3500
Brooklyn Art Museum
At the Brooklyn Museum’s Target First Saturdays, visitors are invited to enjoy free programs of art, entertainment, and dancing the first Saturday of each month from 5 to 11 pm. To add to the party atmosphere, the Museum Café serves sandwiches, salads, and beverages, and a cash bar offers wine and beer. Parking is a flat rate of $4 starting at 5 p.m. All other Saturdays, the museum closes at 6pm.
200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, (718) 638-5000
Modern Museum of Art
MoMA invites visitors to start their weekends early by heading to the museum the first Thursday of each month, better known as “MoMA Nights.” MoMA remains open on these special evenings until 8:45 pm and includes free gallery talks, audio tours, and film screenings with the price of regular admission. Café 2, the Italian-themed restaurant on the second floor, offers a fabulous three-course prix fixe dinner for only $25 on these evenings, and a cash bar is available in the main atrium where a DJ spins great beats for the evening.
11 West 53rd Street, Manhattan, (212) 708-9400