The Summer’s Biggest Block Party is Back: Museum Mile Festival, June 10!

Crowds of people wearing balloon hats and enjoying the festivities of Museum Mile Festival.

(Photo credit: the excellent NYC Loves NYC)

It started one summer evening in the NYC's bad old days of 1978, when the grand old museums of upper Fifth Avenue closed down the street to traffic and opened their doors for free to a city eager for some relief, some common ground, something to celebrate. Needless to say, the night was a huge success for everyone involved, and the Museum Mile Festival has gone on every year since, becoming one of the Upper East Side's great populist traditions.

Image of Dan Graham's roof garden now set up at the Met

The Museum Mile Festival is About to Happen Again!

On Tuesday, June 10, from 6:00 to 9:00, nine museums from 82nd up to 103rd will once again invite the city in for free. Here's a quick look at what to expect, and suggestions on where you should hit up first:

  • The Neue Galerie always tops our list of Museum Mile musts, not only because there's terrific art there (including this year's exhibition Degenerate Art, featuring pieces targeted by the Nazis), but also because, despite its small size, it's usually so expensive.
  • And although the Italian Futurism exhibition now filling the rotunda at the Guggenheim isn't really our cup of (severe, angular) tea, this is one the city's most expensive museums, so if you can get in for free, maybe you should check it out.

Pro tip: don't bother with the Met on Museum Mile night. Sure, it's an phenomenal place, with several interesting special exhibitions going on right now (including the Charles James: Beyond Fashion show, as well as Dan Graham's roof garden installation), but the Met is ALWAYS basically free, so come back the next day when it'll be half as crowded.

Vintage photograph of a muscular man in a black speedo with his hands on his hips standing on the beach at Coney Island

The Whole Line-up of Participating Museums

The most intriguing exhibitions this year are in some of the Museum Mile's less-hyped institutions:

  • The Museum of the City of New York on 103rd still has the great City as Canvas show, as well as photographs from Coney Island in the early 1960s which are likely all pretty amazing (see above). Don't miss the photos and quotes in the stairwells here.
  • Mel Bochner's Strong Language (see below) at The Jewish Museum also looks cool

​And the three remaining participating institutions this year–The Museum For African ArtEl Museo Del Barrio, and The National Academy (note: The Cooper Hewitt is still closed for renovations). All the above are places we don't get to nearly enough- but there's no excuse on Museum Mile night! 

An image of Mel Bochner's artwork of colorful text entitled "Strong Language" now at the The Jewish Museum

More Information: The Museum Mile Festival 2014

The Museum Mile Festival 2014 is on Tuesday, June 10, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Fifth Avenue is closed to traffic, all participating institutions are free, and just strolling the street is an exceedingly pleasant activity. There are also special family-friendly activities all up and down the avenue, lots of music, as well as the inevitable snacking and ice cream opportunities.      

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