The Bronx says no thanks to library’s culture card


Your favorite cultural institution might cost a pretty penny to get into, but having a New York City library card can now help you get in for free.

That is, unless you’re looking for somewhere to go in the Bronx.

Culture Pass is a new service provided by the New York Public Library as well as the Brooklyn and Queens library systems that allows cardholders the opportunity to attend places like The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum with no extra costs. 

The program debuted July 16 and currently has 34 participating organizations.

Each participating location has a limited amount of passes to dole out to library cardholders, but reserving a pass when they are available is simple. Cardholders can log into to reserve a specific date and time they want to attend a museum or garden, and borrow up to four passes, which they print or download. 

The only catch is that once someone prints or downloads a pass, they can’t cancel the reservation.

Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens have a number of locations taking part in Culture Pass, like the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Museum of Modern Art. But in the Bronx, only Wave Hill is participating.

For now, at least.

The public library systems are actively looking to expand Culture Pass into the borough in the coming months. 

“We would love to have more Bronx institutions participate,” said Gesille Dixon, borough director for the Bronx Neighborhood Library Networks. “But this is just an initial list of participating institutions.”

Despite being the only Bronx cultural institution offering Culture Pass, Wave Hill’s executive director Karen Meyerhoff told The Riverdale Press in a statement her organization is “thrilled to participate in this program.”

Wave Hill welcome

“Wave Hill prides itself on being open-armed and welcoming to everyone,” she said. “And this program gives us a chance to double down on that promise by giving free access to our grounds and programs to everyone with a library card.”

On an average day, admission to Wave Hill is $8 for adults. There’s also free admission to visitors on Tuesday and Saturday mornings. With Culture Pass allowing more of its future visitors the opportunity to enjoy the garden at no extra cost, spokeswoman Martha Gellens said the organization is not yet sure how much it will increase visitors on a given day.

“This new program may boost visitation at different times,” she said. “And we will be watching those patterns very eagerly.”

Others may join

Meanwhile, other local cultural institutions like The New York Botanical Garden are looking for ways to be involved with Culture Pass in the near future. The garden told The Press in a statement they are in “active conversations” with the libraries about partnering with the service, “and simply had a few unresolved questions at the time” of its launch in July. 

In the future, Dixon would like Culture Pass to partner with places like the Museum of Bronx History and Bronx Museum of the Arts, even though the latter already is free.

“I think just having them on the list reminds people that they exist,” she said. 

Back at Wave Hill, Gellens hopes that the Culture Pass program will help introduce New Yorkers outside of the Bronx to the gardens overlooking the Hudson River.

“I think for many of our visitors, Wave Hill is synonymous with peace and quiet, and I can’t think of better conditions for settling in with a book,” Gellens said. “It’s just wonderful that this program links us with institutions and visitors across New York City.”