News & Politics

Free NYC Museums Easy to Find Thanks to New Website


Many tourists (and New York residents) must come here wondering, “What museums are free in this city?” Dan Nguyen, a journalist, web developer, and photographer at ProPublica in New York made the ultra-servicey website in response to a request on Reddit. The website has a Google map with all of the museums pinned and color-coded. The size and colors of the pins tell you which museums are open, how much they charge for admission, and how popular they are. We got a chance to speak with Dan about his new site.

How did you create the site?
The most time-consuming step was visiting all the museum websites (which I got through Wikipedia and Yelp) and finding their hours and pricing. Unfortunately, even museum websites can suffer from confusing design. Then I put the info into a Google Spreadsheet and wrote a script in Ruby to read each row and spit out HTML. The site itself is basically in HTML and Javascript at this point. I started maybe a week ago and worked on it off and on… I think I almost pulled an all-nighter getting the museum info.

Do you plan to expand the website beyond the beta version?
I envisioned this site being a good starting point for visitors interested in New York’s museums. I want to make a tweet listing so you could see the latest updates from the museums themselves. Some of the sites have RSS feeds for their exhibits, so that would also be a logical next feature. Some people have said this should be a phone app, and I agree. I’m not an app developer so I think after I’ve organized the format of the data I’ll just put it out there for people to make something with.

How has the response been for the site?
Response has been pretty good…I didn’t do much to promote it beyond posting on Reddit and tweeting about it. Hopefully word spreads by the time spring comes so visitors and winter-shut-ins have a nice reference.

What’s your favorite museum in New York?
My favorite museum so far has been the MOMA. I love the open space, how you can pretty much take photos of anything, and how you can get within a few nose lengths of famous pieces like Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” Being that I’m pretty lowbrow though, I’ll probably most appreciate MOMA for the time when they screened Jackass 3D.


The Latest