New York City Highlights to Beat Winter Isolation! Winter can make going out seem difficult, but it’s well worth the effort.
So far our New York City winter has been scarily mild, due to a “Godzilla el Niño” and other factors. Still, it will eventually get cold, wet and, no doubt, icy, which can make going out seem difficult, particularly if you have a physical disability or chronic health condition. At the same time, staying holed up at home all the time takes a toll.
Professor Kim Samuel is a researcher and an expert on social isolation. “Human beings are social creatures,” she points out. “We rely on others to help us thrive and grow. Social isolation is not only an affliction of the mind and soul but also of the body. It can affect a person’s physical health just as much as his or her emotional life.”
Fortunately, New York City has many enjoyable things to do indoors that make braving winter weather worth the effort to get there – there are literally hundreds of accessible indoor activities to enjoy on your own or with a friend.
To start, for ICS members, and for any New Yorker with a physical disability, ICS offers a great range of art, health and fitness, and social programs at our Bronx and Brooklyn offices, as well as a writing workshop in Manhattan. Check out the full calendar of ICS workshops and special events here. There will be a break over the holiday period, and we’ll begin our schedule again in late January.
New York City’s museums offer accessible exhibits, many free or low-cost, as well as special programs for people with disabilities. And our city’s wonderful free public libraries offer a wealth of educational and social opportunities that are fully accessible and you don’t even need a library card to attend – although if you don’t have one, you should! With a library card, which is also completely free, you can borrow movies, music and books to enjoy at home. You can even download free books onto your e-reader, smartphone or tablet, if you have one.
Here are some highlights to help you plan your winter museum outings. But don’t limit yourself to these. New York City is home to more than 100 museums and countless art galleries and small or temporary exhibits.
- The Bronx Museum of the Arts offers free admission to every visitor, all year long. Open every Wednesday through Sunday, 11 to 6, except major holidays, all exhibits are wheelchair accessible and free loaner wheelchairs are available.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art is pay what you want. While they suggest $25, you can pay as little as a penny or a dollar, which is exactly what many visitors do. The museum is open seven days a week. It is accessible to wheelchair users and offers free loaner wheelchairs at the coat check area. Assistive listening devices and induction loops are also available and audio guides are available free of charge for museum visitors with vision or hearing loss. There are also programs designed for people with disabilities; you can find a calendar of these offerings here.
- The Brooklyn Museum, open every Wednesday through Sunday, is also pay what you wish or nothing at all. The museum is fully wheelchair accessible and offers programming for visitors with sight and hearing loss, as well as for people with memory loss. A full list of New York City museums with programming for visitors with memory loss and their caregivers is here.
- The Museum of Modern Art, which generally charges $25 for admission, is free every Friday night from 4 to 8 pm. Visitors wishing to avoid long lines for free admission are advised to arrive around 6. The museum is fully wheelchair accessible and offers free loaner wheelchairs as well.
Notes that most loaner chairs at museums are manual, so if you need something else it’s wise to call ahead to see if it is available.
Public Libraries – The crown jewel of free, accessible NYC culture
New York City’s public libraries offer a truly amazing variety of free events and classes – literally thousands of offerings, all of them free and wheelchair accessible. And one of the greatest things about our libraries is that there is one in every neighborhood. This not only means that they are easy to reach; they are great places to meet people who live in your community.
The three New York library networks are the Brooklyn Public Library system, Queens Library system and New York Public Library system (which serves Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island). Everyone should know what’s happening at their local library branch, and you can find out by visiting in person or with an online search. Just click on the links in this paragraph. Here’s a tiny sampling of current exhibits and upcoming events at just six of the New York Public Library’s 92 branches in the Bronx and Manhattan. You can do your own search by date and location here.
- Open Lab: Need basic computer skills? Are you having trouble with your email? Don’t know how to cut and paste? Curious about Facebook? Bring your technology questions and get one-on-one assistance! Open Lab is a frequent offering at Bronx and Manhattan library branches. Use this tool to find one at a time and location that is good for you.
- Monthly Poetry Open Mike and Program at the Riverside Library. The next one happens January 2, 3 to 5 pm.
- Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination, now through January 16, a sci-fi/fantasy art exhibit featuring work connected to Afrofuturism, New York Public Library’s Schaumburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
- January 4, 10:30 to noon, Games for Adults, Pelham Bay Library. Come by for some old fashioned board game fun! Bring your friends and play Scrabble, Chess, Dominos, Playing cards, Yahtzee and more! You are welcome to bring snacks too.
- Zen Anti-Stress Coloring for Adults, there are sessions in January at the Wakefield Library. All materials are provided.
- E-book Central, Mid-Manhattan Library. Need help with your iPad, Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader? Want to read e-books on your smart phone or tablet? Visit January 4th through 16th and library staff will show you how to download free e-books.
Live in Brooklyn? Search for events at one of the Brooklyn Public Library 60 branches here. Upcoming offerings include knitting and crocheting, creative writing, history lectures, a chess workshop and much more. Want to see what’s happen at one of the Queen’s Library’s 71 locations? Here’s a tool for that. Current offerings include Basic Mandarin, Mahjong, and an Audio Book Club.
Whatever your interests, you can find something at New York’s museums and libraries well worth getting yourself out of the house for.