New York City is an explosion of creativity. Walking down the sidewalks you can come across street art, pass by artists lining the sidewalks, find the smallest galleries tucked away in alleys, or the most famous museums in the world along Museum Mile.

The 1 Train that stops directly outside of Barnard’s gates goes straight to the center of Chelsea where hundreds of galleries prop open their doors. I have spent a few afternoons ambling up and down the neighborhood with some friends, weaving in and out of white gallery rooms and observing everything from the obscure to the profound.

One Friday night at a gallery opening, the famous avante garde saxophonist and activist Fred Ho was performing. We listened to three musical selections interjected with his explanations of the different movements and history behind each song. After his performance, Victor Vazquez of the famous New York rap trio Das Racist DJed while we mingled, danced, and took in grandiose paintings.

On a separate Wednesday afternoon, my friend Ursula, a journalist, invited me to help out at a Hyphen Magazine cover shoot. The magazine was photographing the artists known as the Far East Movement in a Chelsea studio. I was able to participate behind the scenes of a magazine photo shoot, where I met professional photographers, journalists, and performers. The opportunity to meet and associate with well-established professionals is yet another perk of going to school in New York City.

While many of the Chelsea galleries are free to visit (although some of the experiences you can have there are priceless,) admission to most of the museums can be as costly as $20 per visit. Lucky for me, the Barnard ID acts as an all-access pass that enables students to visit and explore inside the world’s premiere museums for free. Viewing famous art in person after having seen it in textbooks my whole life is incredible.

I have taken a few leisurely trips with friends to explore these museums, but I have also gone on multiple occasions for class assignments. I attended a Metropolitan Museum of Art lecture on ancient Greek art, and to a Russian opera at the Metropolitan Opera to supplement my First Year Seminar. Even my Biology lab required us to visit the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) to complete a take-home lab. After my first visit, I enjoyed myself so much that I was compelled to visit two extra times. 

My Barnard ID has given me access to a whole new layer of the city that I probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to explore otherwise. On a tight college-student budget, it is often hard to scrape together the needed funds to visit special attractions. Yet, with free admission and frequent trips interwoven into the curriculum, my education is deeply enriched by the art here in the city. New York City and all its possibilities has become a hugely defining factor of my Barnard experience.

- Ray Rogers '14