When it comes to arts and culture, arguably no city does it better than “The City So Nice, They Named it Twice.” New York, New York, comprised of boroughs Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island, has for centuries drawn artists of all kinds to its streets and institutions, with the promise of dreams fulfilled.
A trip to New York City—particularly Manhattan, at the heart of it all—is a must for students of every creative endeavor, whether they’re aspiring dancers, actors, performers, singers, musicians, humorists, writers, painters, photographers, illustrators, architects or designers.
The New York City Cultural Collection is a resource for educators and tour leaders putting together their itineraries. A cooperative of the city’s foremost arts-based attractions, it exists to help arrange group visits large and small, from one day to several days. Each nonprofit organization member has a strong focus on education; each also represents a different avenue of arts exploration.
Working with the Collection, tour planners are connected with representatives who provide access to desirable group amenities, such as discounted rates and VIP extras, and dining information—always an important consideration when traveling in numbers!
The Collection comprises:
Museum of Modern Art, with its mission “to share great modern and contemporary art with the public,” has a variety of student group options. Broken into themes by grade level are engaging art-making opportunities and private gallery tours with professional art historians. Perks include a low $8 rate for student tour operators, entry into all MoMA special exhibitions and film screenings, and free audio guides with every ticket.
The Metropolitan Opera, committed to presenting some of the greatest talent from around the world, welcomes an exciting new season—with 20 revivals and five new productions, from the return of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess to Philip Glass’ Akhnaten and many others. Student groups of 10 or more could attend a rousing operatic performance at The Met and get exclusive offers at discounted rates, starting at $25 per person.
Jazz at Lincoln Center, led by internationally acclaimed Wynton Marsalis, is “dedicated to expanding the global community for jazz through performance, education, and advocacy.” Groups of 12 or more enjoy a discount on select concerts and access to priority seating, backstage tours, and free artist meet and greets.
New York City Ballet is among the leading dance companies in the world, with a roster of more than 150 inspiring works and 100 exceptional dancers in its repertory. Discounts and special privileges for student groups of 10-plus are only the beginning. Add a Group Adventure package for NYCB behind-the-scenes access and truly memorable interactions, such as Meet the Musician, Dress Makes the Dance, Ballet Master Class, and Performance Workshop.
Carnegie Hall, a Gotham icon presenting concerts ranging from classical to jazz, pop to world music, celebrates Beethoven’s 250th birthday this season with performances exploring the music of this great composer and pianist. Choose a discounted concert and receive a special $10 student group rate. Private tours for groups of 15-plus, available September through July, must be booked in advance.
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, encompasses 16 acres and 30 indoor and outdoor facilities, hosts guided campus tours, and offers a rare and exciting—and free—student group add-on: the Young Music Makers program. Available March through June for choirs, concert bands, jazz ensembles, orchestras, and more, it allows performance groups to share their talents through a production for visitors to the plaza.
Whitney Museum of American Art devotes its space to the art of the United States and works of living artists, with an innovative collection of 20th-century and contemporary art. Museum educators lead student group tours and engage learners in discussion about the works. Student admission is just $9. Studio Art Workshop, a hands-on activity delving into the creative process, may be added for a fee.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, founded in 1870, remains an archive of beautiful and compelling objects from across the globe, some dating as far back as 5,000 years. For a flat fee and a maximum of 30 people, student groups can reserve a K–12 Tour + Studio Art Workshop and create a sculpture to take home. Not to be missed is The Art of Music: A New Narrative for Musical Instruments, exhibiting a diverse anthology of instruments collected from six continents and an array of cultures and eras.
Not within the Collection but absolutely worth investigating are these exciting activities:
Disney Theatrical, currently showing hit Broadway musicals Frozen, The Lion King and Aladdin, has more in store than electrifying productions. Interactive workshops, based on the show your group attends, are a great way to immerse your students in the experience. From performance to behind the scenes and theatre administration classes, there’s something for everyone. Behind the Magic tours and lunch accommodations are also available.
Blue Man Group “is not just a show, it’s a state of mind.” Give students an unforgettable encounter with this colorful trio and their percussive antics and enjoy the many school group benefits. There are discounts for 10 or more, plus VIP access, Q&A talkbacks, and Backstage on the Stage, which includes a classroom activity guide and post-show video chat with a Blue Man.
Ripley’s Believe it Or Not! is “oddly educational” and utterly entertaining. Wander two floors and 20 themed galleries filled with curiosities and wrap your minds around the unusual, the scientific, and the unexplained. Add on a free Explorer Hunt ticket and download a complimentary teacher’s guide to extend learning to the classroom. Don’t pass up Relic, an escape room adventure where students ages 5 and up solve a series of elaborate puzzles. When booking, ask about openings for your group to perform under the venue’s marquee!
Written by Allison Kay Bannister, Contributing Writer for Teach & Travel.
This article originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of Teach & Travel.