By Victoria Merlino
A library card isn’t just for books anymore.
On Tuesday, the New York Public Library, the Queens Library and Brooklyn Public Library announced that a new initiative known as Culture Pass would allow New Yorkers to use their library cards to get free access 33 prominent museums and cultural institutions across the five boroughs.
In Queens, library card holders can visit the Queens Museum, MoMA PS1, Louis Armstrong House, Noguchi Museum, the Queens Historical Society and the ScuptureCenter.
“This program is in keeping with our mission to transform lives by offering people myriad opportunities for learning, discovery and achieving success,” said Queens Library president and CEO Dennis M. Walcott in a statement.
Since the announcement the Queens Library saw a 37 percent increase in card applications from the previous Monday, a spokesperson told the Queens Daily Eagle.
To get free museum passes, New Yorkers must visit the Culture Pass website, enter their library card numbers and see what dates are available to reserve a pass for a particular venue. After making their choice, users can pick up the pass from their chosen venue shortly before they are due to attend. Users can only reserve one pass per institution per year and have two passes active at a time on their library cards.
Other participating institutions include the Frick Collection and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan, Historic Richmond Town in Staten Island and Wave Hill in the Bronx.
Culture Pass is part of the city’s larger effort to foster inclusion at cultural institutions, which have traditionally excluded low-income New Yorkers, people of color and other marginalized individuals.
Last year, the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs released its CreateNYC cultural plan, the first of its kind in the city’s history. The plan outlines goals and objectives to create a more equitable cultural landscape in New York City. In 2017, the DCLA reported that, while people of color make of 67 percent of the city’s population, they only comprise 38 percent of cultural sector jobs. Issues such as accessibility to cultural spaces for people with disabilities and for people of color also influenced the development of the plan, City Limits reported.
“The main goals will be to maintain New York’s role as an international beacon for the creative community and to expand opportunities for residents and visitors to engage with the city’s unparalleled cultural assets,” the plan states.
The Culture Pass team will work with libraries to promote the program citywide and will offer materials in various languages, including Russian, Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic to attract residents from all communities. The team will also implement new, integrated educational programs to complement the institutions offered through Culture Pass, and will include activities like workshops, live readings and artist and author talks.
“We’re proud to support this exciting new partnership between our libraries and a diverse group of arts organizations, another way that we’re helping to connect New Yorkers with culture in every neighborhood across the city,” said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl in a statement. “CreateNYC called for supporting even stronger linkages between local libraries and the cultural sector, and this is one way we’re delivering.”