Most New Yorkers shell out to get into the city’s arts and cultural institutions. Not true for Columbians!
Let’s frame it a different way.
First, you get in to Columbia. Then, you get in the know. Then, you get in to 30 arts and cultural institutions in New York City. For free.
In my years at Columbia, I confronted a painful reality: you have to pay to procrastinate. Yes, we’re lucky to be a MetroCard swipe away from some of the world’s best music, culture, dance, food, theater. But those distractions come with a price tag that often, woefully, outmatches my empty wallet. These days, even the old fallback of going to the movies will cost you upwards of $11.
And then, there’s free. The word conjures in me a chain reaction of emotions. First, excitement (as in “yippee! That’s free!). Then suspicion – what’s the catch? Do I have to buy two $16 drinks? Or worse – wear a bright orange promotional Bacardi t-shirt? In the case of Passport to NY, the Arts Initiative program that provides free admission to 30 museums in New York City, free means free, and then that smug feeling settles in, like I’m getting away with something. The beauty of the program is its versatility. All it takes is my CUID and current semester validation sticker to look at ancient Indian art in the Met for a Hinduism class or to watch free movies at MoMA.
Once I started taking advantage of the free entry to museums all my non-CU friends knew about, I got a little more intrepid (pardon the Passport pun – because you know about the free admission to the Intrepid Museum, right?) and sought out more unique New York experiences.
The passport analogy is apt; instead of getting my passport stamped again and again with the same old places, I lusted for the exotic. I found it first at the Nicholas Roerich museum, right in our own Morningside Heights. A beautiful brownstone on 107th Street houses the collected works of Roerich, a Russian philosopher who traveled the world searching for the mythological Shangri-La . Watching his style shift as he traveled from Russia to Western Europe to India, the bustle of New York City and the dreaded hours in Butler melted away. The postcard I bought there (for free admission, I can shell out 89 cents for a souvenir) stayed on my bulletin board all year – a reminder during those grueling hours of thesis editing that I was always an ID-flash away from something beautiful.
Passport to NY is available to current undergraduate and graduate students. All you need is your valid CUID with a current validation sticker. Columbia and Barnard students, visit the ID Center; Teachers College students, visit 160 Thorndike Hall; Medical School campus students, visit 1-405 P&S for Medical School campus students. To take advantage of the Passport program at participating museums, simply present your CUID at the entrance.
Bronx Museum, anyone?