‘Culture Pass’ turns city library cards into admission for 33 cultural institutions

If you don’t have a library card, there are now 33 more reasons to get one.

Starting Monday, cardholders from any of the city’s three systems can get free admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, The Museum of Modern Art and 30 other cultural institutions across the five boroughs.

The “Culture Pass” program aims to give more city residents — especially those in underserved communities — access to museums and other sites.

“I think it’s one of the greatest things to happen,” said Queens Library CEO Dennis Walcott. “It really shows that libraries are the connective tissue to the public at large.”

Walcott noted that many New Yorkers, especially new immigrants, may not be aware of the different cultural institutions in the city.

The program is open to people who have cards for the New York Public Library — which serves Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island — the Queens Library or the Brooklyn Public Library.

Each library system’s website will have its own page for Culture Pass. Cardholders can log in using their library card ID, make a reservation and print or download a pass.

Officials said they expect the program will provide 58,000 passes annually at an estimated cost of $2 million. The cultural institutions provide the passes while foundation donations pay for most of the administrative costs.

Cardholders can make only two reservations at a time but can use the pass as often as they want throughout the year. There also may be limits on the number of passes available at any given time.

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer chairs the Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee, and he said the program helps break barriers some people face when it comes to visiting museums.

“I grew up in a very working-class family in Queens and sometimes you are intimidated because you don’t feel you know enough about art and some institutions charge fees,” Van Bramer said. “I love that library cards are being used as a pass to gain access to some of our cultural treasures.”

The program is funded for three years, but officials expect the program to continue beyond that time frame.

The Culture Pass is different from the benefits offered to New Yorkers who sign up for IDNYC cards and get free memberships to cultural institutions across the city. The Culture Pass provides passes for a one-time visit, not memberships, at places ranging from the Queens Museum to Wave Hill in the Bronx and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

“IDNYC has been a great success and has opened the doors to many cultural experiences for so many immigrant families,” said Van Bramer. “I think sometimes the memberships pose some challenges to the cultural institutions. I think the beauty of the Culture Pass is it gives everyone flexibility.”