If you are a regular reader of this online record of my enthusiasms, you know that I enjoy deeply my museum memberships. One of my favorite parts of being in New York City is the access to some of the top cultural institutions in the world, and having memberships to those institutions means that I can drop in for a visit anytime I want. But perpetually on the cusp of being a starving artist, I look for the deals and luckily there are plenty.
I suppose the least expensive way to go is “pay what you want” nights. During these events, you can give however little your conscience allows. There are plenty of moral arguments for artists or really any other of the city’s non-rich community to pay very little. Several of the local museums offer these opportunities. I stick with my quest to acquire actual memberships on the cheap though, because I dislike viewing art in a huge crowd. Museums often offer member nights, where members have the run of the galleries without all the tourists.Also, I have a guilty conscience.
I’ve already shouted the virtues of the NYC ID from the rooftops, so I won’t get too much into it. Just think, “Tons of free memberships for a year.” Not for privacy/conspiracy theory enthusiasts.
This past week, I was made aware of artist memberships. The Museum of Modern Art had an open house for their artist member program this past Wednesday and for $35 and proof of artistry, (in my case, a postcard displaying work and listing my website) I have base level member privileges at MoMA including the ability to buy one $5 guest pass per visit. The New Museum on Bowery also has an artist membership program for $50 (with your resume). The Whitney also offers a $50 artist membership which I wish I'd known about last year. Benefits include some nice bonuses from which you may choose. I opted for the "education" option which gave me access to lectures and gallery talks. Even paying $85 last year for a base level, non-artist membership, I found it to be a solid value.
If you are an artist, and not so anti-establishment that you still enjoy museums, then I recommend looking into artist memberships at your local institutions. If you can not prove that you are an artist, I still encourage you to look for deals at your local museums. They are out there for the taking.