The City That Never Sleeps Wants a Nightlife Museum

The City That Never Sleeps Wants a Nightlife Museum

Now, city officials are calling for adding another one to the mix to chronicle and celebrate New York’s nightlife legacy.

In a report released Thursday, the city’s Office of Nightlife, which started operations in 2018 and is part of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, has recommended the establishment of a museum or similar archival institution dedicated to the places that have defined New York in the late hours.

Officials with the nightlife office said it is too early to discuss any details about their recommendation, including if such a museum would be funded and run by the city or if any outside organizations would be involved. But they said a museum could be a way of reframing the nightlife industry as one of the city’s cultural treasures, with a colorful and vibrant history, to say nothing of its role as an economic driver.


If you were the curator, what would you put in the NYC nightlife museum? Join the conversation below.

“Historically, it has been seen more as a liability than as an asset,” said Ariel Palitz, the nightlife office’s senior executive director.

The 162-page report does address many of the challenges the oft-criticized industry faces, including noise complaints involving nightlife spots in or near residential neighborhoods. Among the suggestions offered by the report is one to have the city help fund the cost of soundproofing measures for clubs or other nighttime destinations or provide loans to these businesses for such improvements.

The report also looks at ways to help nightlife entrepreneurs get their businesses established. In particular, it calls for a streamlined city and state process to assist with permitting and inspections.

Because of the pandemic, the past year has been an extremely challenging one for the nightlife industry. Many clubs haven’t been able to reopen their doors until the relaxing of health and safety restrictions in recent weeks.

Club owners are supportive of the idea of a nightlife museum, pointing to how the city has been home to many famed establishments over the years, from the Cotton Club in Harlem to Studio 54 in Midtown.

The Cotton Club circa 1938 in New York City.


George Karger/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Noah Tepperberg, co-chief executive officer of the Tao Group Hospitality, one of the most prominent nightlife operators in the city and country, said a museum could potentially go beyond historical exhibits to incorporate immersive experiences. He suggested that classes in bartending or DJing be offered.

“It could be very educational,” he said of the nightlife-museum concept.

Before the pandemic, New York was enjoying something of a museum boom. In recent years, institutions small and large have opened, including Fotografiska, an exhibition space devoted to photography, and the Poster House, a venue dedicated to poster art.

There is more to come as the city looks past the pandemic. The Universal Hip Hop Museum is slated to open in the Bronx in 2024.

Ms. Palitz pointed to the city’s appetite for niche museums, noting the longstanding popularity of the New York Transit Museum.

“Why not a museum of nightlife?” she said.

Write to Charles Passy at

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Source: WSJ – US News

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