IDNYC Card: the Gateway to Free New York Museums



Metropolitan Museum of Art is 1 out of 26 Museums that Offer Free Membership to IDNYC Card Holders

What is IDNYC Card?

New York IDNYC Card is, as the name suggests, an ID card. As far as IDs go, the IDNYC Card is not going to be very useful to anyone who already has a driver or non-driver license ID; the IDNYC Card might not be recognized beyond the limits of New York City, although that depends on whether or not other municipalities come up with reciprocal agreements in the future.

IDNYC cardholders can access services and programs offered by the City as well as by businesses. IDNYC helps enhance public safety, by serving as a recognized ID for interacting with NYPD. It also helps New Yorkers gain access to all City buildings that provide services to the public and is accepted as a form of identification for accessing numerous City programs and services.

Please read Kathie’s account (from Running for Miles) of how she applied for the card. That was, well, a process. Since then, though, new centers have opened up that will probably shorten the lines.

The IDNYC Card can also work for all NYC libraries. That might be convenient if you use libraries in more than one borough.

You will be able to use your IDNYC card at any public library in New York. The card can be integrated with your account at the New York, Brooklyn, and Queens Public Library Systems. This is the first time a single card will be accepted across all three systems. To use your IDNYC card at a library, ask a librarian or a library clerk at your local branch to connect your IDNYC card with your library account or sign up for a new library account and use your IDNYC card as your library card.

The IDNYC Card was designed to help people without access to other forms of IDs — just like prepaid debits cards were designed for the underbanked until the hacking community found the way to use it for other, unplanned activities. Think I’m reaching here? Well, yes, but not much, as the IDNYC Card benefits are actually better than what you see!

What Are the Benefits of IDNYC Card?

The IDNYC Card gives you free access to some top NYC museums, concert halls, and even zoos. These benefits already translate into hundreds of dollars of savings, especially if you have kids.

IDNYC also provides a dynamic series of benefits to cardholders, including a free one-year membership at many of the City’s leading museums, zoos, concert halls, and botanical gardens.

Let’s begin with the top museums you are getting access to. Since it’s not always clear what kind of memberships we are getting, I’m only listing the cheapest membership prices that correspond to the terms listed on the IDNYC site. The full museum list is here.


  • New York Botanical Garden ($40 or $70)
  • Bronx Zoo ($75)


  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden ($50)
  • Brooklyn Children’s Museum ($65)


  • American Museum of Natural History ($140)
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art ($80)
  • Museum of the City of New York ($75)


  • Museum of the Moving Image ($50)
  • New York Hall of Science ($85)

Staten Island

  • Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden ($45)
  • Staten Island Children’s Museum (unclear)


In a way, yes! Just read the fine print and you’ll realize: WYGIBTWYS (What You Get Is Better Than What You See).

Take the Bronx Zoo, for example. Here are the terms.

Wildlife Conservation Society / Bronx Zoo
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. As the world’s largest urban zoo, the Bronx Zoo features more than 600 species from around the globe. The Bronx Zoo’s world-class exhibits such as Congo Gorilla Forest, the Wild Asia Monorail, Tiger Mountain, and our newest exhibit, Madagascar!, getyou eye-to-eye with massive crocodiles, majestic tigers, and inquisitive gorillas.WCS Municipal ID Membership Benefits:

  • Free general admission for one adult to the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo
  • 10% discount at select gift shops and restaurants at the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium and Central Park Zoo
  • Discounts on Education programs and courses
  • Invitations to Members’ Evenings
  • Free e-newsletters

In other words, by getting free access to the NY Zoo, you don’t only get access to the Bronx Zoo. You also get access to other zoos, as well as the New York Aquarium.

The New York Aquarium — for those who don’t know — is in Coney Island, Brooklyn, next to the boardwalk, the beach, and the Luna Park. Bring your family for a fun-filled day in the summer and become a hero to your kids (although I’m sure you are already).

Some of the included memberships offer invitations to special receptions, others — discounts from local merchants, like restaurants and parking garages. I’m sure that a little more research would reveal more gems. However, it’s clear to me that this is a terrific program already, that is definitely worthy of spending a couple of hours of your time at an enrollment center. Make your appointment here.


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Hi. thanks for the mention! I just wanted to clarify that I went through the process of applying for the ID card last week. As I mentioned, a lot of new centers have opened, and although there were a lot of lines to wait on, it went quickly. In fact I was able to get out of my 6pm appointment with enough time to catch a happy hour drink at a nearby bar, who’s happy hour ended at 7pm.

Rapid Travel Chai

And head down the boardwalk from the aquarium and end up in Russia for a hearty lunch. 🙂 Nice catch. I wish I qualified. NYPL lets you be a member if you only work in the city, but from what I read on this, just working in the city isn’t enough.

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