Culture On A Budget

By Clint Brownfield

New York is the undisputed cultural capital of the world and, here’s the good news--you can see lots of things around town for little cost or totally free if you do a little planning.

Can’t find or afford a ticket to Hamilton? Well, you can visit his nifty little mansion—Hamilton Grange in St. Nicolas Park—for free. It’s one of 10 national parks and historical sites in the city, and all of them are free, except for, technically, the Statue of Liberty. There’s no admission charge, but you do have to pay to get there. Go to for more information. And remember, the National Park Service is celebrating its centennial this year. Enjoy!

Continue your Hamilton exploration by visiting the Museum of the City of New York and the New York Historical Society—lots of Hamilton, and more, at those gems.

More Hamilton, at no charge, waits at the very beginning of Wall Street, way downtown, where tours are offered free at Trinity Church and its cemetery where Hamilton and his wife Elizabeth are laid to rest. Hamilton died on July 12, 1804, in a house on Greenwich Street, one day after his unsuccessful duel with U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr in Weehawken, NJ. Elizabeth lived until November 9, 1854, and is credited with founding New York City’s first orphanage. For tour times and information go to

Moving on uptown, and into to the Gilded Age, you can get an eye-opening glimpse of how the one percent lived at the turn of the last century. Visit The Morgan Library, The Frick Collection and the Cooper-Hewitt where JP Morgan, Henry Clay Frick, and Andrew Carnegie hung their hats and lived amidst their spectacular collections of art, objects, books and manuscripts. All can be viewed free of charge or on a pay-as-you-wish basis during certain times of the week.

Today, New York continues to add to its cavalcade of culture. Example: The High Line, the amazing elevated park that runs from 34th Street on the north end, down to Gansevoort St., on the south end. There is no charge to walk the High Line—but you may want to get off once in a while to get a closer look at what’s below. Stroll down 10th Ave. past the Clement Clarke Moore Park at West 22nd Street. Moore is widely credited with penning the poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. The little park/playground is located on a former farm purchased by Clement’s grandfather, Captain Thomas Clarke, in 1750. A retired officer of the British Army, Captain Clarke named his property “Chelsea” in reference to London’s Royal Chelsea Hospital for old soldiers. His daughter and son-in-law extended the acreage to what is now formed by West 19th St., Eighth Avenue, West 24th St., and the Hudson River. And that’s how the area got its name. One of Moore’s ancestors was rector of Trinity Church. On July 12, 1804, he was called in to administer the final rites to a man who was dying from wounds received as the result of a duel the day before. The dying man was Alexander Hamilton.

The High Line ends (or begins) at Gansevoort Street in the West Village’s Meatpacking District, where you’ll find the spectacular Whitney Museum of American Art—the Renzo Piano-designed masterpiece that opened in May 2015; it’s considered the new home of this longtime staple on the American art scene. Friday evenings are pay-as-you-wish. The Whitney’s former building at West 75th Street and Madison Avenue is now home to the Met Breuer.

As you plan your cultural budget for this coming fall, do remember, that even ‘big box’ museums such as The Met, the American Museum of Natural History and the Brooklyn Museum, which are all pay-as-you-wish, need all the funding they can get. So be as generous as possible. Consider becoming a member to receive additional cost-cutting benefits. For example, members of the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens not only get to enter free but they also get to attend a phenomenal amount of movies at no additional charge. Check it out.

In all cases, contribute as much as you can, so New York City can remain The Culture Capital of the World.

Below is a sampling of New York’s cultural gems and what they have to offer to those on a budget. This information is subject to change, so log on or call to make sure places are open when you would like to attend.

American Museum of Natural History,
Central Park West at 79th St., Manhattan.
Adult Admission: Suggested $22, pay as you wish.
Membership begins at: $105; 212-769-5100;

Guggenheim Museum,
Fifth Avenue at 89th St., Manhattan.
Adult Admission: $25.
Free Admission: Saturday, 5:45-to-7:45 PM; pay what you wish. Last ticket issued at 7:15 PM.
Membership begins at: Global $75, includes admission to Guggenheim, Museums in New York in New York, Bilbao and Venice. Individual membership $85;
212-423- 3500;

Whitney Museum of American Art,
99 Gansevoort St., Manhattan.
Adult Admission: $22 online, $25 day of admission.
Free Admission: Fridays, from 7-to-10 PM, pay as you wish.
Membership begins at: $85;

New-York Historical Society,
Central Park West at 77th St., Manhattan.
Adult Admission: $20
Free Admission: Friday 6-to-8 PM.
Membership begins at: $90;

Museum of the Moving Image,
36-01 35th Ave. Queens.
Adult Admission: $15.
Free Admission: Fridays, 4-to-8 PM.
Membership begins at: $75;

Brooklyn Museum,
200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn.
Adult Admission: Pay as you wish. There may be an extra charge or fee to enter special exhibitions. (Check the website for details.)
Membership begins at: $75;

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum,
Fifth Avenue at East 91st St, Manhattan.
Adult Admission: $16 online, $18 at the door.
Free Admission: Saturdays from 6-to-9 PM pay as you wish.
Membership begins at: $75;

Museum of Modern Art,
11 West 53rd St., Manhattan.
Adult Admission: $25.
Free Admission: Friday nights from 4-to- 8PM.
Membership begins at $85;

Museum of the City of New York,
Fifth Avenue at East 103rd St., Manhattan.
Adult Admission: Suggested $14. Pay as you wish.
Membership begins at: $75; 212-534-1672;

Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Fifth Avenue at East 82nd St., Manhattan; Met Breuer, Madison Ave. at East 75th St., Manhattan; Met Cloisters, Fort Tryon Park, Manhattan.
Adult Admission: Pay what you wish; Suggested admission for one adult, $25.
Free Admission: Whatever you pay, that amount will let you enter all three Met locations, that day, at no additional charge.
Membership begins at: $80;

The Morgan Library & Museum,
Madison Avenue at East 36th St, Manhattan.
Adult Admission: $20
Free Admission: Fridays from 7-to-9 PM. Admission to the McKim rooms only (Mr. Morgan’s Library, Study, Rotunda, and Librarian’s Office) is free during the following times: Tuesday, 3-to-5 PM; Friday, 7-to-9 PM; Sunday, 4-to-6 PM.
Membership begins at: $75;

The Frick Collection,
Fifth Avenue at East 79th St, Manhattan.
Adult Admission: $22.
Free Admission: Every Sunday from 11 AM to 1 PM.
Membership begins at: $75;

National Parks and Historic Sites
Adult Admission: Admission is free to all ten parks in NYC.
Noteworthy: Seniors may purchase a $10 ticket that will allow entry to all national parks free of charge,