New York City's Municipal ID Might Also Have Cultural Perks

July 24, 2014

The much-heralded municipal identification card announced this month by the de Blasio administration will make it easier for undocumented immigrants in New York City to check out library books and sign a lease.

It might also come with free membership to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

To broaden the appeal of a card that will be available to all New Yorkers early next year but is designed to help those who do not have a driver’s license or other official identification, the administration has asked some of the city’s most prominent cultural institutions to offer benefits, like memberships or discounted tickets, to cardholders.

The proposal, floated last week to a group of city arts executives at the Met Museum by Tom Finkelpearl, the cultural affairs commissioner, is designed to ensure that a card intended to help undocumented New Yorkers does not simply become an easy way to identify them.

It also represents a turnabout in relations between cultural organizations and City Hall. While former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg made investments in culture a hallmark of his administration and privately donated hundreds of millions of dollars to city institutions, Mayor Bill de Blasio is asking those institutions to help sell one of his signature initiatives.

“The city’s coming to us and saying, ‘Will you help solve this?’ ” said Susan Lacerte, executive director of the Queens Botanical Garden, who attended last week’s gathering. “It recognizes that we have great constituencies, we have reach in the communities.”

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