Cheap Date: Museum Of Arts And Design + Cocktails With A View

Almost every museum in NYC has a special “pay-what-you-wish” time, and Thursday evenings just happen to be that special time for the Museum of Arts and Design (or, as we New Yorkers like to call it, the MAD Museum.)  From 6pm to 9pm, you and your date can skip the usual $16 admission and peruse the collections practically free of charge.  (Hey, donations come in all shapes and sizes, don’t they?)  Afterwards head over a block west to the Hudson Hotel, and spend that cash on some fancy cocktails with a view.


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The Museum

Along with its regular exhibitions, the MAD Museum has some other fun and interactive features that will keep you and your date engaged and talking long after.  Hop on one of the free docent led tours that leave from the lobby, and get a greater appreciation of the art you’re about to see.  (Just be sure to check the calendar in advance for the times that day.)

Or you can join in on one of the Open Studios, and interact directly with working artists as they create their work in a public environment.  I had the opportunity to meet and talk with jewelry designer David Mandel, and not only was he a totally cool guy, but our dialogue game me so much better of an understanding of the man behind the necklaces, so to speak.  David taught me that diamonds can be a boy’s best friend, too.  Who knew?!

And don’t leave without checking out the museum’s high-flying restaurant, Robert.  Even if you don’t grab a drink here, definitely pop in for a stunning view of Columbus Circle, Central Park, and Central Park West.  The restaurant is a pink-lover’s paradise, sure to make the girly-girl pleased as punch.


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The Cocktails

If you’re a fan of Sex & The City or Gossip Girl, you’ll probably recognize The Hudson Hotel from some of your favorite scenes.  Located a block away from the MAD Museum at 356 West 58th Street, the hotel is unmarked, but when you see the yellow windows, you’ll know you’re at the right spot.

If it’s a nice evening, definitely take advantage of the (very secretive) Sky Terrace located on the 15th floor.  Technically this outdoor oasis is just for guests of the hotel, but as long as you’re okay with telling the staff you’re a guest of a guest, all is okay.  With unobstructed views of the Hudson River all the way down to the Statue of Liberty, plus couches and lounge chairs adorned with pillows, you’ll be sure to make your date starry-eyed even before the cocktails start flowing.


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If the weather is shoddy (or you don’t want to explain how your cousin is staying in room 432, you promise), the hotel’s 2nd floor Library Bar is another sure spot.  Complete with pool tables, books galore, and a cozy fireplace to snuggle up in front of, it’s the perfect spot to reminisce about all that great art you just viewed together…and to discuss future plans of what free museum you want to take advantage of next.


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The Cost

If you hit up the MAD Museum on a Thursday evening, the cost is “pay-what-you-wish”.  Be prepared to drop around $16+ per cocktail at the Hudson.  But the view from the terrace: priceless.


Do you take advantage of practically-free museum nights around the city?  Which are your fave?


By: Jessica Tiare Bowen





  • The design of that building is stunning! Love the exterior especially.

    • Used York City says:

      It’s a great building, and really blends in with its midtown surroundings so well!

  • Rebecca says:

    I didn’t know that museums had ‘donation’ times – something I’ll have to check out. And any outing is complete with a visit to a great restaurant with a view to die for!

    • Used York City says:

      It’s a fabulous way to stay up to date on the art world and their newest exhibits on the cheap!;-)

  • Maria says:

    A little research goes a long way – so many places offer discounted or free days/nights and in metropolitan cities that makes a huge impact on saving your travel money for other events. Great tip Jess!

    • Used York City says:

      Thanks Maria! I definitely try to take advantage of free/cheaper times at museums whenever possible!;-)

  • It’s about time I visit another museum. Of course you need to follow it with museum-quality gastronomy. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • so awesome. Love this idea. We have a couple museums in our city but they are not open in the evening.. and they don’t have that view — but one could have lunch there. one day a week they are open for free.

    such a great idea Jess.

  • Tracy Kaler says:

    I have been to Robert for cocktails, but i have not yet been to the museum. Now that I know it’s free from 6 to 9, I will definitely check it out. I have heard great things about it. And, the view from Robert is spectacular on a clear night! Also loved the live piano music–bonus!

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