A guide to museums in New York City
Many of the museums in New York City are ridiculously crowded. New York is a big tourist destination, and the tourists want to see all of the famous museums, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), or the American Museum of Natural History. If you are looking for a quieter museum, check out the New York Historical Society or the Brooklyn Museum. And the Cloisters, although not undiscovered, are more out of the way and thus less crowded than the main Met.
Other than MoMA ($25) or the Whitney ($22), most museums that have a required admission charge less than the cost of a movie ticket, so visiting museums is very affordable. I highly recommended visiting MoMa on Friday evenings from 4 to 8 when the admission is free.
A big secret for visiting the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (including the Cloisters) and the Brooklyn Museum is that they charge suggested donations. I only give a dollar; theoretically you could give a penny or even demand free admission, but that just feels wrong. When I was younger, I used to think that this behavior was really cheap, but now that I’m older and wiser, my feelings about this are (1) serves them right for charging a suggested donation; (2) the person who takes the money doesn’t give a crap about how cheap I am, and if anything I bet that he or she thinks that those paying full price are stupid; and (3) my tax dollars are used to support these institutions, so I’ve already paid my fair share.
Strangely, if you take the time to observe who pays full price and who pays a dollar (or even less), you’ll see a trend in which prole looking people and non-Asian minorities pay full price, while people who look upper-middle-class white (SWPL) and who can presumably better afford the full price will donate a tiny amount. I attribute this to the SWPLs being more in the know. It’s not like there’s a big sign explaining the policy. It’s there in fine print, but for someone who has never done it before, it just seems too good to be true. (Indians, of course, will never pay the full price. They make a big hobby out of getting stuff on the cheap, and no Indian has ever been embarrassed about being cheap.)
What kind of people do you find in Museums? There are basically four categories: (1) SWPLs; (2) tourists (who are as often proles from the Midwest as they are sophisticated Europeans); (3) Indians (for whom the penny-per-person admission is cheap entertainment); (4) at the AMNH on a weekday morning/afternoon there will be a lot of schoolchildren on class trips, and the schoolchildren, unlike the other museum visitors, more closely reflect the racial and economic diversity of the New York metropolitan area.
John Derbyshire once wrote an essay about keeping yourself safe by avoiding places where black people go. Well, you never have to worry about being a victim of violent crime while in a museum. You never see any ghetto-looking people in a museum. This is even true of African-American themed museums located in black neighborhoods. You may get mugged in the parking lot, but once inside most of the people are SWPLs, with a handful of non-ghetto upper-middle-class-looking blacks.
Why should you go to museums? Besides being safe from violence, you get to see objects that can’t be fully appreciated by looking at pictures of them online. And the architecture of the buildings themselves is often pretty impressive.
The downside of museums is that they have been subject to two modern trends. One is the increasing emphasis on audio-visual presentations. As I wrote above, the upside of museums is that you can see objects that can’t be appreciated on a computer monitor. But what’s the point of an audio-visual presentation with a bunch of photos, TV screens, etc.? It’s just reproducing something that could just as easily be presented on a website, or as a documentary on the History Channel. No thanks.
The second bad trend in museums is the increasing political correctness of them. The old exhibits at the AMNH are real dead animals which were shot in Africa, and then preserved and stuffed. But the new exhibits are all models, and they mix in messages about preserving the environment and global warming. It makes me want to puke. My recommendation for visiting the AMNH is to skip the newer galleries and just look at the old-school galleries.
At art museums, nearly all of the art worth looking at was created before World War I. Curators look at any post-WWI art that actually looks skillfully executed as being “kitsch” and not worthy of display. So if you visit a museum specializing in post-WWI art, such as MoMA or the Whitney, you have been warned.
If there’s a photography exhibit, then the secret meaning of the photos will generally be to mock proles. Either that, or they will be photos that gay men find interesting. Which is not to say that gay men don’t have good taste; in fact they have much better taste than feminists and leftist SWPLs.
*Note: this post is a slight edit of a post from six years ago.