The best museums in New York to visit after a trip or smoking
You will never see art and science the same again.
If you’ve been walking down a busy block in the five boroughs lately, you’ll smell weed in the air and likely catch someone either lighting up or willing to offer you a gram or two. While weed is legal in New York, state-regulated sales aren’t scheduled to begin until later this year. Still, no one is stopping the ganjapreneurs from making money and serving the public. Bodegas, weed trucks, and not-so-legal storefronts are multiplying, and the city has tentatively sanctioned outdoor cannabis use.
Amid the post-Thanksgiving holiday spirit, locals and tourists alike feel the urge to visit the city’s 100 or so museums, covering everything from Native American history to Lower East Side homes to ice cream.
With legal cannabis sales in New York just weeks away, I wanted to find the best centers of history and learning that would pair well with domed pharmacy edibles, craft cannabis, and maybe some specialty mushrooms you can find from a local vendor picked up. I can safely say that these were my favorite museums to visit after tripping and smoking.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
One of my favorite things about weed and psychedelics is that they soften the boundaries of our reality. Time no longer passes as usual, gravity shifts and history becomes an experience for us to inhabit.
The Met always presents guests with a prism from another time and a world seen through different eyes. This is an ideal pairing with cannabis edibles, a thought-provoking sativa, or some psilocybin. I’d argue that all of the current exhibits fit Mushrooms a bit, but the craziest ones available now are Chroma: Ancient Sculptures in Color, where ancient Greek marble statues are given a color treatment, and Kimono Style, which traces the evolution of the kimono as a garment .
The Met is also home to the Cloisters, a homage to medieval artwork and architecture that feels like a palace you would encounter in the Game of Thrones universe. There are gardens, castle towers and halls built for the booming voices of choirs and kings. If you’re feeling trippy, I recommend staying outside in the countryside so you don’t worry about the High Sparrow coming after you.
Museum of the Moving Image
Now this museum is NOT for beginners. I repeat, if you’re not prepared for a barrage of moving images, color, characters, and existential crises, just abstain from any type of intoxicant. Because wow, I wasn’t ready yet.
But I loved it! MoMI is a multi-story, intentionally humble building in Queens dedicated to the cinematic craft. The centerpiece of the museum is easily the Jim Henson exhibit, which traverses the prolific puppeteer, animator, producer, and inventor’s decades of work on Sesame Street, The Labyrinth, Fraggle Rock, and more.
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There is literally a quaint cinema within the exhibition. I wasn’t so much in touch with my inner child that she sat on my shoulders and guided me through the whole thing. There are also temporary exhibits on Barry Jenkins’ The Underground Railroad and most recently, a deep dive on Walking Dead which I admit scares me.
Good things always happen at the Brooklyn Museum. Their ongoing collection houses art from societies on every continent, from Egypt to Polynesia to the First Nations. Higher up are temporary exhibits that are as fascinating as they are devastating: an interactive COVID memorial and a sprawling musing on how our everyday trash is ruining the planet. Some pieces look like kaleidoscopes made from tampon applicators, disposable dental floss and abandoned lighters, so something that stimulates the visuals is the move.
But the must-see show right now is definitely Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech, a tour of the late Louis Vuitton creative director and designer’s forays into fashion, design and architecture. There are well over 100 items from his migrant crisis-inspired clothing collection, a spectrum of his off-white shoe designs, and an entire wooden shack designed to nurture the creativity of black artists while protecting them from the rigidity of white supremacy ideals.
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I wasn’t financially able to own a piece of Virgil’s legacy, but the vision in his work is only undermined by how much he seemed to have to show us. The new Thierry Mugler: Couturissime exhibition has just opened to encourage your passion for fashion.
Definitely start in the elephant room. It’s technically the hall for African mammals, but the elephants are the stars. I myself popped one of the new Kiva Grape Pie Cookies gummy candies from a partnership with Brooklyn rapper Saint Jhn and was blown away by how many other styles have evolved alongside or far from our urban experiences around the world. Where else would you ever see the skeletons of Chihuahua-sized lemurs or giant salamanders? The Natural History Museum, of course.
I specifically went for the new Sharks exhibit, which several young children have described as “scary”. It’s a dimly lit room full of shark trivia, interactive games, and shark replicas (no big white tanks, sorry!) that you can detour to and then return to the animal kingdom. I wouldn’t take psychedelics if you plan to visit the Halls of Native American History, which feature somewhat eerie recreations of people and their cultures that are still very much alive. But you make yourself
The Tenement Museum
Admittedly, the SNL skits are a lot funnier than learning about thousands of European immigrants living in poverty; I would recommend this if you want to be sad when high and enjoy an emotional cleansing. The Lower East Side often feels like a thousand-year-old playground or a collection of stealthy alleyways, but a guided tour of the Tenement Museum will leave you feeling immensely happy about the cramped dwelling you must have lived in at some point.
As a descendant of immigrants from several European countries, but none of them passed through Ellis Island or lived in New York. I used to be a little jealous of all the thousands of people who had to remake their lives in the Big Apple until I got through the dirt they had to deal with on a daily basis. This is definitely an indica-esque, introspective day to feel sympathy and gratitude for evolving beyond these circumstances as a city and country.
Museums often feel stuffy, and their architecture can feel drab. Reminding me of something straight out of Westworld’s last season, the Guggenheim puts you in a spiraling circle and allows you to flowstate while viewing the best of an 8,000-piece collection.
People watching alone can eat up an entire afternoon, but if you’ve got a nice microdose high going I recommend the Cecilia Vicuña: Spin Spin Triangulene and Sensory Poetics: Collecting Abstraction exhibitions. Both play with artistic means as well as some mushroom chocolate with your perception. Both exhibitions focus on contemporary art that rejects our cultural reverence for minimalism and clearly understood messages. Colours, shapes and senses abound!
The new museum
Sometimes it takes a little meanness in life to remind you how good it can be. But sometimes the grotesque has its own beauty and appeal. Doreen Lynette Garner’s new show at the New Museum, Revolted, is unnerving and deep interrogating in the best possible way.
Her sculptures appear to be in Dexter’s tidy room or in a neglected slaughterhouse. Everything is mainly made of synthetic materials, but the sculptures are still reminiscent of living, fleshy bodies. It might be best not to see this exhibit if you have a sensitive stomach or like to dose or smoke heavily
Have you ever wondered what kind of spy you would be? That’s half the fun of SPYSCAPE, a midtown Manhattan building that takes you through a series of mental and physical games that will help you determine your best spy skills while learning about international surveillance and the history of espionage.
There’s also a Batmobile or two. My friends and I used to take care of the boss, and while it made the math parts harder, everything definitely felt more 007. All the essential spy skills will be put to the test here – cracking ciphers, spotting lies, surveillance and sneaking through a room full of lasers to name a few. Unfortunately, there are also geometry issues. Each phase takes you through different parts of the museum so you don’t get bored.
At the end you get an analysis that describes your role in a hypothetical secret service. I myself became an analyst, which apparently means I’m good at spotting patterns and validating data, but maybe I’m not taking as many risks as I should.
All of these visits were conducted under ideal tripping and smoking conditions; I was in control of my dose and experience with no side effects that can occur – cannabis and psychedelics are not exact sciences, after all. If you want to take your next museum visit to the next level, always start low and go slow. You might see something you’ve never seen before.
New York-based freelance cannabis journalist Amelia Williams is a graduate of San Francisco State University’s journalism program and a former budtender. Williams has contributed to GreenState, MG Magazine, Culture Magazine and Cannabis Now, Kirkus Reviews and The Bold Italic of the San Francisco Chronicle.
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