Explore NYC! Join a Cultural Excursion

New York City is home to a wide range of world-renowned libraries, museums, and cultural institutions, reflective of this city’s rich history and diverse population. The seven excursions created for the 2018 MLA convention take place in six different Manhattan neighborhoods. Join an excursion to experience New York City’s incredible history and culture, from the city’s sidewalks to the inner sanctums of libraries and museums, and return to the convention reinvigorated. Sign up when you register for the convention, or you can write to Michael Reilly if you have already registered.


Steps away from Central Park and a few blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art stands the New York Society Library, home to New York City’s first library. Originally located on Wall Street, the library opened in 1754 and was used by George Washington and John Jay while it served as the nation’s Library of Congress. Join library staff members for an intimate view of the collection’s treasures and conservation room. Learn about the library’s history during a tour of the 1917 town house.


The New-York Historical Society is the oldest museum in New York City. The 1804 landmarked building faces Central Park, next to the American Museum of Natural History. The guided tour highlights artworks and artifacts from the 1700s to present day, reflecting the broad range of New York City’s history. Following the tour, join the head librarian for a visit to the museum’s celebrated library.


Bordered by Central Park to the north and the Empire State Building to the south and home to many of Manhattan’s iconic skyscrapers, Midtown Manhattan is the city’s business and tourist center. Stroll north to 60th Street and visit the Grolier Club in its 1917 neo-Georgian town house for a curator-led tour of an exhibit on the McLoughlin Brothers’ picture books from 1858 to 1920. Or head south to 42nd Street for an excursion to the New York Public Library’s flagship building, which opened in 1911. Join library staff members for a tour of the landmarked Beaux Arts building along with up-close access to highlights from the library’s collections.


The Morgan Library and Museum, once the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan, sits on Madison Avenue, near the New York Public Library and the Empire State Building. Join museum staff members for a tour of the museum, which includes the original 1906 library, and enjoy special access to the Morgan’s treasured rare book and manuscript collection. Be sure to check out session 329, “Pre-Raphaelites and the Pierpont Morgan Library.”


The Lower East Side is a true melting pot of New York City, where tenement buildings from the 1800s and brand new luxury buildings sit side by side. This area that once housed the newest waves of immigrants and many of the city’s sweatshop workers now boasts some of the hottest restaurants, art galleries, and nightlife in Manhattan. Join the Tenement Museum excursion for a visit to see where and how immigrant families lived, followed by a reception featuring food from the neighborhood and stories of American immigration and migration from Your Story, Our Story.


The Financial District is the oldest section of Manhattan, with iconic landmarks such as Bowling Green Park, site of the sale of the Island of Manhattan in 1626; Federal Hall, site of the first capitol of the United States; Fraunces Tavern, where George Washington gave his famous farewell speech; and the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, also the home of the National Museum of the American Indian. Join the excursion to the American Indian museum for a curator-led tour of the exhibit Transformer: Native Art in Light and Sound as well as a private tour of the landmarked building and its history.


Each excursion registration comes with a round-trip MetroCard to facilitate your exploration.

Photo credits: Top photo, Central Park, by Matthew Knott via Flickr. Central photo, NYC View Looking South, and bottom photo, Wall Street, by Anastasia Courtney


Jen Rappaport

The New York Society Library is a hidden gem. Whereas anyone can visit the New York Public Library, only members can normally go above the Society Library’s first floor. Upstairs you’ll find a magnificent cell-phone free reading room, a children’s library, several floors of books tucked away in the stacks, and a room where writers and researchers–sometimes famous ones–work elbow to elbow on their laptops. Highly recommended!

Stacey Courtney

Hi Jen,
Thanks for the recommendation for the Society Library! A hidden gem is truly what it is. I’m also amazed by all the writers who’ve used it as their own writing studio and how welcoming the staff are. I love that it’s the actual staff who are excited to conduct the tours. It should be great!


Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.