Every guy knows that if he wants to win the girl, he has show he has a cultured and sensitive side. Sometimes he tries to get his in by talking about Austen, but let’s face it… relate too much to Elizabeth Bennett and the object of your desire may think you play for the other team. No, no, museums and concerts stand as the more reliable option for men looking to impress their newest lady. As a New Yorker, an art addict/insider, and a girl, i’d like to think I can offer the male population a few art-oriented outings that will be sure to woo your woman.
But before I lay out your options, here’s one DON’T that many make the mistake of doing…
DO NOT GO TO A MUSEUM ON A FREE ADMISSION NIGHT. That’s right. Sure it seems like a good idea — why fork out $40 for two tickets to MoMA and then pay for dinner on top of it when you can get comped tickets on Friday night and get to see all that art? Answer: Because everyone in Manhattan, resident and tourist alike, is thinking exactly the same thing. Museums get swarmed, and the galleries are just not big enough to handel the volume (the Met is probably the only exception to this… but it’s also the most unweildy in terms of stuff). A musuem date is incredibly intimate. The temple-like atmosphere requires hushed voices, which then requires a physical closeness to share opinions and insights. There are lots of opportunities for those hand on the arm/small of back moments that make a girl go weak in the knees. But, fill the galleries with tons of couples, families, and teenagers, and you lose that quiet closeness. Also, all those people just make it plain ol’ difficult to see the art. What’s the point of going to a museum if you can’t get at the Van Goghs? Instead, if you have time and really want to impress your date, use the free nights to get aquainted with the collections and the new exhibits.
1. The Brooklyn Museum of Art
The BMA is too often overlooked. Which is a good thing, because traffic through the galleries, even on a weekend, is generally light. It boasts a stupendous and well-curated collection of American art and often exhibits top-notch special shows. Right now, “Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955-Present” is up and looks like a stellar photo show.
Ride the train together, peruse the collection, ride over to DUMBO and buy her a hot chocolate from Jacques Torres before you walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and back into Manhattan. Guaranteed to get you to another date.
2. The Frick Collection
The Frick is my go-to NYC Museum. It’s small, easily digestible, and the art is pretty. There is very little in the collection made after 1917, which means most of it is attractive. Monet, Manet, Whistler, Turner, Veronese, Goya, Rembrandt — all the heavy-hitters of Western Art. You don’t have to fain knowledge of Conceptualism or Post-Modernism to make an impression — everything you studied in Art History 101 is here. The courtyard is a convenient place to break, sit side-by-side and talk about the raw, turbulent power of the Turners in the grand West Gallery. And the fact the art is displayed in a personal home gives you a thousand more things to make conversation about.
Want to cap it with a meal or snack? You’re near Central Park and Dean and Deluca. Picnic? Absolutely a must.
3. Concerts and drinks at the Met
In the summer, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opens a martini bar in its sculpture garden, and its still open for another two weeks! Visit the new American wing and then head out for a drink among some bronzes.
The Met is also well-known for their jazz concerts.
4. A Movie at MoMA
The Museum of Modern Art was the first fine arts museum to recognize film as fine art medium in its permanent collection. They show approx 800 films of year — everything from Edison’s early 11 minute reels to contemporary blockbusters like Adaptation. A exhibition on Tim Burton opens at the end of November, so take your date to see her favorite Johnny Depp-Burton collaboration and over 700 drawings and art objects from Burton’s personal collection.
Afterward, walk East to Park Ave and the Brasserie. The French Bistro is a midtown mainstay (I practically grew up there) and has great happy hour deals and delicious pomme frites (perfect for sharing!).
A Few more tips…
– don’t bother with P.S. 1 — the only time it’s worth the trek to Queens is during the summer time when they have parties. Otherwise, the only thing good about P.S. 1 is the building.
– I also don’t recommend gallery hopping. To make yourself look good, you need to have some sense of what’s going on in the contemporary art world, and the contemporary art world is one big mess. While the free wine at openings is tempting, gallery shows are too risky. Museums have their collections and special exhibitions online, which means you have a chance to do a little research before you meet her.
– keep an eye out for MoMA Mixx and MoMA’s PopRally events — dancing, open bars and discounted after-hours tickets.