New York City on a Budget
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THE CULTURE VULTURE
An afternoon perusing the Van Goghs at the Museum of Modern Art followed by a mad dash for the 8 pm curtain is a timeless Big Apple itinerary. Problem is, it's also one of the priciest: MoMA (pictured) charges $20 a head, and $100 won't even get you a decent seat on Broadway. But recalibrate your cultural antennae, and you'll find the city is rife with inexpensive creative energy.
The Museum of Modern Art's collection of Van Goghs, Matisses, Pollocks, and Picassos is unparalleled—required viewing, in fact. So go on Fridays between 4 and 8 pm, when the entrance fee is waived. Sure, the crowds are thick, but it's usually packed anyway. You can even make a weekend of it: The Guggenheim and the Whitney Museum of American Art let you pay "what you wish" on Friday evenings (which means you can pay nothing, but we hope you're not that stingy), and the Jewish Museum—which displays major artists like Louise Nevelson and Camille Pissarro—is free every Saturday. In the summer, New Yorkers pack the city's parks for free concerts and performances, but gratis cultural events take place year-round; check the calendar at www.freenyc.net.
Take the Stage
Taking the family to see Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein—$450 apiece for "premier seats"—could cost you as much as your own private castle in Transylvania. If you're hell-bent on a Great White Way spectacle, try your luck at a TKTS booth, where prices are discounted up to 50 percent, or check if the production sells cheap seats for those who queue up, enter a lottery, or don't mind standing (not too bad if you're low on cash and loaded with commitment); check www.talkinbroadway.com/boards and www.broadwaybox.com. Tickets to Off Broadway productions can be had for as little as $25—a rip-off for flops like Idol (the, um, Clay Aiken musical), but a fantastic bargain to see Sean McNall, an Ed Norton in the making, play Hamlet at the Pearl. Do your research by checking reviews in the New York Times or the Village Voice; the Signature Theatre Company, Pearl Theatre Company, and Public Theater all stage consistently high-quality productions.
Museum of Modern Art
11 W. 53rd St.
Tel: 212 708 9400
1071 Fifth Ave.
Tel: 212 423 3500
Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Ave.
Tel: 800 944 8639
1109 Fifth Ave.
Tel: 212 423 3200
West 46th St. between Broadway and 8th Ave.
South Street Seaport
Signature Theatre Company
555 W. 42nd St.
Tel: 212 244 7529
Pearl Theatre Company
80 St. Marks Pl.
Tel: 212 598 9802
425 Lafayette St.
Tel: 212 967 7555