Downtown Culture Pass and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council: Two Smart Ways to Explore the Tip of the Island

River to River Festival dancers with a glass satge structure against a blue sky in lower Manhattan.

There's always a million great things to do in this city, with new events, exhibitions, stores, restaurants, pop-ups, shows, parks, and recreations vying for your attention (and paycheck) all day, every day. And that's fantastic, of course — it's one of the reasons why we love living here — but it does mean that under-hyped events, or the not-new, can and do get overlooked. Even (especially?) by us. Anyway, here are two downtown-centric ways you can explore the lower end of the island, each with an emphasis on sights and experiences that hum along quite nicely below Manhattan's PR-machine radar.  


Collection of drawings from the Skyscraper Museum in lower Manhattan, New York City.

The Downtown Culture Pass offers a pair of benefits to both New Yorkers and out-of-towners alike. The first is value: one $25 pass gets you admission to nine different downtown museums or cultural centers, for a savings of up to $50. And it's good for three consecutive days, so if you're in charge of running Camp [insert your last name here] this August, well…. you've just filled at least two mornings or afternoons with new, cool (in both senses of the word) things to do. 

Exhibition truck at the NY Police Department Museum in lower Manhattan.

The Police Museum, for example, is never a bad idea, especially with the pre- and elementary-school set, who enjoy both the regular exhibitions (we hear that the Motorcycle Squad show is a big hit) as well as the newish Junior Officers Discovery Zone. The National Museum of the American Indian, located within the soaring old Alexander Hamilton Custom House, has some of the same appeal as the Museum of Natural History, and its Bowling Green location makes it an ideal stop-in before, say, taking ride on the Staten Island Ferry. And the Skyscraper Museum in Battery Park City is a great underrated New York City treasure, with an good exhibition going on now, Supertall!, a lively international survey of the 100-story-and-beyond giants that have either been built, or are under construction, since 2001. 

Visitors at the Open Studio view art while an artist discusses a sculpture.

On a different note, there's the excellent Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, a tireless nonprofit organization that, since the early 1970s, and despite terrible losses on September 11, 2001, has been tirelessly, exuberantly dedicated to making their neighborhood a "thriving center of arts activity with relevance to downtown residents, workers, visitors and the larger arts community worldwide". With an emphasis on art in unexpected places — and keeping an eye on how art can spark both short- and long-term economic growth in a community, a model they would love to see replicated all over New York City — the LMCC sponsors and organizes and curates tons of great events and workshops and performances and exhibitions all throughout the downtown area. 

Interior view of landmark building in lower Manhattan, New York.

The best way to keep up with everything the LMCC does is either by constantly checking their website, or — what we do —  signing up for the LMCC monthly email. Among the many LMCC events that we've enjoyed in the past have included their annual Open Studio Weekend, the LMCC dance and music performances at the summer-long River to River Festival, their Arts Center on Governors Island, a couple of crazy walking tours through FiDi's back alleys, and the LMCC's terrific Access Restricted explorations of usually-off-limits buildings and tunnels and other secret spots.  


Downtown Culture Pass and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Details 

For more information and a complete list of venues available with the Downtown Culture Pass, please see their website, here. For more information on the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, including a calendar of upcoming events, please see their website, here


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