The Best NYC Art Experiences You Can Enjoy From Home
Explore the city’s cultural offerings from afar.
Even when the lights are out on Broadway, NYC is still the cultural capital of the world. Lucky for those of us stuck at home, the city’s greatest artists and curators have moved quickly to bring New York’s unparalleled cultural offerings online.
When you need a break from WFH (or when you’re just bored of waiting for your new pigeon BFF to flap past your window), take some time to explore the city’s new socially distant art experiences. Whether you want to spend an afternoon lost in the Met, watch a Broadway show from the best seats in the house, or listen to a poet perform a personalized reading just for you -- we’ve rounded up our favorite ways to explore art in NYC. And if you can, please consider donating to the city’s cultural institutions. They need us now more than ever.
Spend the day exploring NYC’s famous museums
At the American Museum of Natural History, you can take a virtual tour or follow a tour guide through their collection of Facebook Live streams. Explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art through their Met 360° Project or fall down an internet rabbithole of artist interviews. Over at the Guggenheim, they’ve produced a podcast about the iconic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright that you can give a listen to while clicking through their collection online. The Frick has a virtual tour, too, along with hours of recorded lectures. If you’re more into the contemporary art scene, explore Virtual Views at the Museum of Modern Art or take courses to find your inner artist. At the Brooklyn Museum, you can click through their exhibitions or stream Virtual First Saturdays.
Check out NYC’s smaller (but just as mighty) museums
While you’re not riding the subway every day, you can still use the archives of the NY Transit Museum to learn more about your commute. At the Tenement Museum, they’ve created an online exhibition about the history of the Census. The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts is offering the MoCADA experience online with lectures, podcasts, and videos; at El Museo Del Barrio, you can explore their permanent collection and watch discussions with artists on YouTube. The Merchant House Museum, Manhattan’s first landmarked building (and a common spot for ghost sightings), has moved their programming online, as has Williamsburg’s strange, tiny, and only-in-NYC City Reliquary.
Watch the Great White Way on the World Wide Web
While Broadway’s gone dark through at least June, the show must go on. To get your musical theater fix, you can stream full-length musicals on Broadway HD, the Broadway on PBS Collection, and Andrew Lloyd Weber’s The Shows Must Go On YouTube channel. If you want to welcome the stars of Broadway into your living room, watch Stars in the House, a daily livestream that supports The Actors Fund. Or belt showtunes yourself by joining the Marie’s Crisis Facebook group, where the pianists at the West Village piano bar stream their sets nightly.
Watch off-Broadway and alternative theater
This summer’s Shakespeare in the Park is canceled, but you can still stream last year’s performance of Much Ado About Nothing. Avant-garde theater La MaMa is streaming experimental theater; the social-change-focused Rattlestick Theater is hosting virtual salons on Zoom; and Playwrights Horizons, which champions up-and-coming playwrights, has created The Interview Project with their commissioned artists. If you could use a laugh (and who couldn’t?), head to the Magnet Theater’s Twitch stream to catch an online improv show.
Spend the afternoon strolling (or, um, clicking) through fine art galleries
Even if you can’t afford the art, you can still admire it! Gagosian has posted their archive online, and David Zwirner has created Platform: New York, bringing 12 NYC galleries together to present individual artists from their rosters. Explore Romare Bearden’s collage paintings at DC Moore; work from young artists like Hayden Dunham and John Edmonds at Company’s Viewing Room; and self portraits from Frida Orupabo at Gavin Brown’s enterprise.
Air-conduct an orchestra from the comfort of your couch
The Metropolitan Opera’s Nightly Opera Streams bring a different opera to your home every day of the week. If you want to recreate a night at the orchestra, NY Phil Plays On is replaying video and radio broadcasts of your faves; Live With Carnegie Hall is live-streaming music and interviews; and Lincoln Center is uploading full performances to its Jazz at Lincoln Center YouTube. If you like your music a little more modern, tune into Live @ National Sawdust, where they’re releasing an archived performance every week, or ThingNY, where they’re streaming the modern opera Subtracttttttttt.
Get inspired to dance around your apartment
Already nailed the Toosie Slide? The Dance Theater of Harlem is offering free online dance classes so you can spend your quarantine learning some new moves. If you’ve got two left feet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is streaming full performances online, along with behind-the-scenes footage and conversations with their dancers on Instagram. If your tastes lean classical, the New York City Ballet has a podcast exploring the ballet’s history and repertory. And if you’d like to explore the world of emerging dance, spend some time on the Joyce Theater’s JoyceStream “digital stage” and watch selected works from BAM’s digital archives.
Stream films you can’t find on Netflix
Movie theaters are bringing their programming online for those of us who’d like to watch something that isn’t the view from our window. BAM and Film Forum are offering new and archival films to stream; Anthology Film Archives has curated “Helter Shelter,” a virtual film series that celebrates shelter-in-place; and IFC is presenting “Wish We Were Here,” a collection of short films made by their staff. If you want to go behind the movie screen, check out the Paley Center for Media’s YouTube channel and quarantine-themed films and discussions from Museum of the Moving Image.
Get to know the city’s lit scene
If you’re using quarantine to curl up and read, spend an afternoon poking around the New York Public Library’s expansive digital collections. Or brush off that English degree and learn about poet and novelist Anne Brontë at the Morgan Library’s online exhibition. You can support indie bookstores by streaming readings and ordering new novels at Books Are Magic, Greenlight, or your favorite local shop. If you want to get right in the middle of the lit world during quarantine, sign up for Nuyorican Poets Cafe Online Open Mic or book a session with Poet Stream, which pairs you with a poet for a live video call and a personalized poetry reading.
Be inspired + make your own art
Get creative by exploring Brooklyn Museum’s coloring pages, which let you color in pieces from their collection. If you want to start a social distancing diary, DIY a hand-bound journal with online classes from the Center for Book Arts. Perform and upload a star-making performance in the Shakespeare Sonnet Challenge; set aside time to work on your writing along with Suzan-Lori Parks; or become a part of history by sharing your quarantine story with the Tenement Museum.
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