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Mayor Bill de Blasio launched IDNYC yesterday, the program that will issue municipal identification cards to any New York resident over the age of 14 who cares to apply for one — including undocumented immigrants. De Blasio’s office has promoted the program as evidence of its commitment to inclusivity, arguing that the cards afford New York’s immigrant population access to services previously unavailable to them. With municipal IDs, it will be easier for them to obtain library cards, open bank accounts, and enter federal buildings.

Though some civil rights groups have expressed concern that the cards could be used to identify undocumented immigrants, de Blasio’s office hopes the initiative will attract a wide enough swath of New Yorkers that they blend in with the crowd. To entice potential applicants, the IDYNC program offers a variety of cultural perks. Here’s a quick primer on why art enthusiasts might want a IDNYC card — and how to get one.

What are the benefits?

You should apply for a municipal ID so that undocumented immigrants can get them without facing stigma or repercussions. But you should also apply for an IDNYC card to get free one-year membership at any or all of these 33 participating cultural institutions:

American Museum of Natural History
Bronx County Historical Society
Bronx Museum of the Arts
Brooklyn Academy of Music
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Brooklyn Children’s Museum
Brooklyn Museum
Carnegie Hall
New York City Ballet
El Museo del Barrio
Flushing Town Hall
Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Museum of Jewish Heritage
Museum of the City of New York
Museum of the Moving Image
New York Botanical Garden
New York City Center
New York Hall of Science
MoMA PS1
Public Theater
Queens Botanical Garden
Queens Museum
Queens Theatre in the Park
Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden
Staten Island Children’s Museum
Staten Island Historical Society
Staten Island Museum
Staten Island Zoo
Studio Museum in Harlem
Wave Hill
Wildlife Conservation Society
Bronx Zoo
New York Aquarium

Though the benefits of membership at these institutions vary, some offer pretty appealing packages. The Museum of the Moving Image, for instance, provides its members with “unlimited complimentary admission” to the permanent collection galleries (not counting special exhibitions, unfortunately).

How and where can you apply?

There are 12 IDNYC Enrollment Centers scattered across New York’s five boroughs. You can find a complete list of the centers, many of which are located in public libraries, here.

To apply for an IDYNC card, visit the website and print out an application, or stop by an IDNYC Enrollment Center. The application requires proof of residence and identity, but it’s flexible with respect to documentation. The program operates on a point system, requiring applicants to earn a total of at least three identity points and one residency point. For instance, New York–issued identification cards like a state driver’s license are worth four residency and identity points, whereas documents like phone bills are worth just one residency point. For details, look at the second page of the application. Work-arounds are offered for those without a stable home address and survivors of domestic violence.

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Becca Rothfeld

Becca Rothfeld is assistant literary editor of The New Republic and a contributor to The Los Angeles Review of Books, The New York Daily News’ literary blog, The Baffler, and...

2 replies on “NYC IDs Now Available (Along with Free Membership at Lots of Museums)”

    1. Tom Finkelpearl, who is NYC’s new culture czar, was the former director of the Queens Museum. I’m sure this was his idea. He has been committed to a more accessible culture industry for ages, so this seems like a natural fit for his ideas.

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