NEW YORK (July8, 2020) —The Trust for Governors Island announced today that Governors Island will reopen to the public with limited capacity for passive recreational activities on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Starting that day, Governors Island will be open to visitors daily from 10AM to 6PM on weekdays and 10AM to 7PM on weekends.In order to serve New Yorkers most in need of open space, The Trust is launching an extensive outreach initiative and offering free ferries to all New York City Housing Authority residents and community organizations across the city. Brooklyn ferries will also be redirected from Pier 6 to Red Hook’s Atlantic Basin, beginningSaturday, July 18.
The Trust initially postponed its 2020 season in April in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and for the health and safety of its visitors, staff, tenants, vendors and community of cultural organizations. To ensure a safe environment for all visitors, The Trust will launch a number of health, safety and social distancing protocols upon reopening, including a new ticket reservation system to manage capacity on ferries. With these measures in place, visitors will be able to safely enjoy the Island’s wide-open park spaces, historic surroundings, and stunning public art while engaging in passive recreation activities like biking, birding, picnicking and much more.
“Equitable access to open spaces in our city has never been more important, so we’re thrilled to welcome New Yorkers to Governors Island in just a few short weeks,” said Clare Newman, President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “This summer, Governors Island will be an affordable, local getaway for New Yorkers who need it most.We’ve focused on a plan to make the Island more accessible to New Yorkers in areas underserved by parks this season, and have taken important steps to ensure the health and safety of our visitors. We look forward to seeing everyone on the ferry!”
“Governors Island is an idyllic place for New Yorkers to spread out and enjoy summer in the City,” said Alicia Glen, Chair of the Trust for Governors Island. “While the season was cut short by the pandemic, the Trust has worked around the clock to increase access to the Island for those hardest hit. I look forward to enjoying the views from the Island’s fabulous outdoor dining spots – thank you to the Trust staff and all of our partners for giving New Yorkers safe and secure access to one of the City’s true gems.”
“We’re thrilled to reopen Governors Island this July, in order to provide New Yorkers even more ways to celebrate summer, safely,” said Deputy Mayor Vicki Been. “Governors Island has put smart, thoughtful plans in place to ensure safety and to be a respite for communities across the five boroughs at a time when open space is needed more than ever. As in all parks, for your safety and for those around you, visitors should continue to practice social distancing and wear a face covering when on the ferry and while enjoying all that the Island has to offer.”
“As New Yorkers seek opportunities to safely enjoy outdoor spaces where they can maintain social distancing and adhere to health guidelines, the re-opening of Governors Island comes at the perfect moment,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “This summer, the public will once again be able to explore the history, green spaces, and excellent views of the Manhattan skyline available on Governors Island. I thank the Trust for Governors Island for expanding access to the Island’s invaluable open space to more New Yorkers during this time by waiving ferry fees for NYCHA residents, seniors and select community-based organizations.”
“This announcement is great news for Red Hook and our entire City. Although social distancing is far from over, public outdoor spaces provide a much-needed escape from the confines of our homes,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez. “With Red Hook’s ball fields still closed, the reopening of Governors Island is an excellent alternative for families to enjoy open spaces and fresh air. Red Hook residents have always enjoyed a great view of Governors Island, but still find it inconvenient to get there. This will change with this summer’s direct ferry service from Red Hook, offering recreational opportunities exactly when families yearn for outdoor summer fun. I am particularly thankful that the Trust has offered free ferry service to NYCHA residents and local community groups, which will mean even more of our neighbors can visit the Island this summer. I am looking forward to enjoying the fresh air and cannot wait to see the island alive with activity once more.”
“At a time when New Yorkers need good news, I'm thrilled Governors Island will be open this summer,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.“The Council has been fighting to save summer for as many New Yorkers as possible, and to have a gem like this one open and accessible is a big win. The Council is glad to see the Trust for Governors Island has a plan to ensure New Yorkers are able to enjoy this beautiful space safely, and I encourage all New Yorkers to continue practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings as recommended by health officials.”
"Summer is not cancelled, with responsible planning! I thank the Trust for Governors Island for all its work to make this reopening possible" said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. "Our public parks are a public health resource, and I am thrilled that this 172-acre gem in the heart of New York Harbor will soon be open for families to enjoy and safely social distance. With free ferries being offered to our neighbors at NYCHA and local community groups, I highly encourage all of my constituents to come out and enjoy the sun. Thank you to Clare Newman and all the staff at the Trust for their unwavering commitment to protecting New Yorkers' health and safety this summer and expanding access to open space."
“As the City recovers, we need more parks and large spaces to reopen so New Yorkers can enjoy the summer while social distancing. Governors Island's plan to move a ferry stop to Red Hook and provide free ferries for NYCHA residents strikes that balance perfectly. I am proud to support their reopening plan and look forward to joining residents there to take in the unparalleled sight of New York Harbor flanked by Red Hook, Manhattan, and the Statue of Liberty,” said City Council Member Carlos Menchaca.
“As we implement new ways for New Yorkers to enjoy the outdoors while also safely social distancing, news that the 172 acres of Governors Island will re-open to New Yorkers is an exciting boost to our city's open space capacity,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera. “I am particularly thankful to the Trust for offering free ferry service to some of the communities hardest hit by the pandemic, namely seniors and NYCHA residents. With partnerships like this, we can ensure a safe and enjoyable summer for vulnerable New Yorkers who are seeking some time outside their homes.”
"I adore Governors Island-- it's considered part of Manhattan, after all-- so I'll be thrilled to be able to visit again once it reopens, even under the needed social-distancing guidelines on the ferries and beyond," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I applaud the Trust for Governors Island for launching free ferry reservations for NYCHA residents and community organizations-- giving everyone the chance to enjoy free recreational open space when we need it most."
“This is welcome news for the residents of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, and all New Yorkers who appreciate the wonders of Governors Island,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh, who represents the Island and nearby parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. “After spending much of the year sheltering in place, we now can venture out to explore Governors Island’s lush greens, wide-open spaces, breathtaking views, and historic architecture. I applaud the Trust for Governors Island for their stewardship of the island, and their efforts to reopen access with appropriate social distancing and safety guidelines in place for the benefit of all visitors.”
"I thank the Trust for Governors Island for thinking of all New Yorkers by providing ferry service from Atlantic Basin/Red Hook to Governors Island this year," said Assistant New York State Assembly Speaker Felix W. Ortiz. "There has never been a more important time to provide all community members access to fresh air and the ability to maintain social distancing. The free ferry rides for NYCHA residents will ensure everyone has equal access to this beautiful Island. Fresh air, open space and a stunning view is just what we all need now."
"Manhattan Community Board 1 and the lower Manhattan community are excited for the re-opening of Governors Island,” said Anthony Notaro, Jr., Chairperson, Manhattan Community Board 1. “This jewel of our city will offer a welcome environment for all to enjoy. Although initially, there will be a limit on the capacity of the island, it is a sign of moving into the future in a positive way."
“People in our district, and across the city, are going to need more and more safe open space as this pandemic continues through the summer,” said Michael Racioppo, District Manager, Brooklyn Community Board 6. To that point we’re always happy when Governors Island opens up, but especially this year”
“We can’t wait to welcome New Yorkers back to Governors Island to enjoy a true escape from the concrete jungle,” said Merritt Birnbaum, Executive Director of the Friends of Governors Island. “At a time when our city needs open green space more than ever, the Island brings fresh air, cool harbor breezes and plenty of room to bike, picnic and relax. We’re so grateful to our supporters and volunteers for helping us make the 2020 season safe and welcoming for everyone.”
Beginning July 15, ferries will depart daily from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street in Manhattan. Capacity on Governors Island’s ferries will be limited during the 2020 season to allow for social distancing. For the first time, visitors will be able to reserve tickets in advance through a new reservation system.A limited number of tickets will be available for purchase in person for each time slot, and will be made available to the general public on Friday, July 10 at 10:00AM by visiting govisland.org.
To increase access for communities less served by open space in New York City, Brooklyn ferries to Governors Island will depart from Atlantic Basin/Red Hook rather than Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 in 2020. Brooklyn ferries will begin service on Saturday, July 18 and will run on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets for Brooklyn Ferries may also be reserved at govisland.org beginning July 10.
Round-trip ferry tickets will cost $3 for adults. Ferries are always free for riders age 12 and under as well as Governors Island Members, IDNYC holders and current and former military service members. Ferries are now also free for all New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents and seniors 65 and over. Morning ferries before noon on Saturdays and Sundays are free for all. There is no surcharge for bicycles at any time. Visitors are required to wear face coverings at all times while traveling on Governors Island ferries.
The Trust will offer special waived fares for non-profit community-based organizations, youth camps, and senior centers throughout New York City. To inquire about special group visits, organizations may email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The city’s NYC Ferry service will offer additional connections to Governors Island’s Yankee Pier via a dedicated weekend shuttle from Wall Street/Pier 11 which will operate approximately every 30 minutes. Tickets are $2.75 or by free transfer from any NYC Ferry route. All visitors who arrive to Governors Island via NYC Ferry are strongly encouraged to depart using NYC Ferry as the Governors Island ferry service will operate on a reservation ticket service and walk-up tickets are not guaranteed. NYC Ferry riders are required to wear a mask or face covering while onboard, even on the upper deck. For ticketing information and for a full schedule, please visit www.ferry.nyc.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governors Island will operate with limited services and will remain open for passive recreation activities only, such as hiking, walking and running, biking and birding throughout its expansive landscapes.
Visitors can enjoy sweeping, 360-degree views of the surrounding skylines and Harbor landmarks like the Statue of Liberty from the summit of Outlook Hill. Hammock Grove provides a relaxing respite in comfortable hammocks tucked cozily into secluded pockets in the foliage. Kids will enjoy climbing and swinging at the Hammock Grove Play Area and zipping down Slide Hill’s collection of twist-y, turn-y slides including a tandem slide and the longest slide in the city at 57 feet long. The Urban Farm will be open Saturdays and Sundays for visitors to explore GrowNYC’s Teaching Garden and Earth Matter’s Compost Learning Center.
Public art installations remain on view, including Shantell Martin’s The May Room, a commission for the 2019 season, Rachel Whiteread’s Cabin, a permanent installation on Discovery Hill, and more.
Bike rentals will be available from Blazing Saddles and Citi Bike, and visitors may bring their own bikes on Governors Island ferries for no additional fee to enjoy the Island’s seven miles of car-free bike paths. Blazing Saddles also rents pedal cars, surreys, scooters and more and will offer free one-hour bike rentals on weekday mornings before noon. Heightened cleaning and safety protocols will also be implemented.
Visitors will be able to embark on self-guided tours offered through Urban Archive. Visitors can follow the physical route of these walks across the Island using their smartphones, revealing new historic photos as they go. A variety of Governors Island self-guided walks exploring its history and transformation are available on govisland.org and through Urban Archive’s app.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Food and beverage vendors offering a wide range of options will be available for Island visitors to enjoy upon reopening. AllGovernors Island vendors will comply with the latest food service guidelines and adhere to health and safety plans thatminimize person-to-person contact, emphasize hygiene, and allow for social distancing in serving areas.
This year’s vendors present at opening will include:
Island Oyster, a one-of-a-kind destination featuring easygoing summer fare, tropically inspired cocktails and panoramic views
Taco Vista, purveyors of tacos, margaritas, craft beer and some of the best views from Governors Island
Fauzia’s Heavenly Delights, an award-winning Jamaican-fusion establishment offering Caribbean classics and homemade desserts as well as vegan and gluten-free options
Kimchi Taco, which serves Korean-inspired tacos and bowls as well as appetizers
Makina, which serves traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean food with a modern twist
Threes Brewing and The Meat Hook, two Brooklyn mainstays that will combine local craft beer options with offerings from the acclaimed butcher shop
The refreshing, delicious gourmet ice pops and slushes of People’s Pops
Melt Bakery, whose unique cookie and ice cream flavor pairings create surprising and delightful ice cream sandwiches
Venezuelan-style hot dogs complete with mounds of toppings and accompaniments from Perros Y Vainas
Coffee and tea plus sweet treats and light bites from Joe Coffee
Shareable snacks and takeaway lunch options from Three Peaks Lodge at Collective Retreats
Little Eva’s, a longtime Island establishment offering summertime grilled fare as well as sister location, Sea Biscuit, which features picturesque Harbor views
Pizza Yard brings gourmet Neapolitan and Roman-style wood-fired pizzas to historic Colonels Row
Sweet and savory crepes from Everything About Crepes make a perfect lunch, snack or dessert
Wings Lovers offers a robust range of flavors and options to satisfy any chicken wing enthusiast
Terry & Yaki specializes in halal teriyaki chicken bowls along with vegan options and snacks
Authentic Belgian waffles heaped with tasty toppings at Wafels & Dinges
CLEANING & SAFETY PROGRAM
For the safety of visitors, the Trust will implement increased cleaning protocols and schedules in all restrooms, in passenger compartments aboard ferries, and in high-touch areas across the Island.
Hand sanitizer and hand washing stations will be installed throughout the Island.Ferries, restrooms, ATMs, bike rentals through Blazing Saddles and Citi Bikes will also be regularly disinfected. These and other steps will be taken to ensure a safe and healthy visit for Island patrons.
All visitors will be required to wear face coverings while riding the ferry, or when social distancing is not possible.
Following local, state and federal guidelines, some changes will be implemented to Governors Island amenities. Outdoor event permits and permits for team athletic field use will be postponed until at least August 1, and indoor public programs will be postponed until at least August 31. Governors Island National Monument, including Fort Jay and Castle Williams, will remain temporarily closed. For updates on service changes on Governors Island, please visit www.govisland.org.
GOVERNORS ISLAND AT HOME
During its reduced season, New Yorkers will continue to enjoy access to the best of Governors Island and its programming, whether they are able to visit in person or not. In May, The Trust launched Governors Island at Home, a hub of free interactive tours, resources and virtual programs related to the Island’s history and natural surroundings, as well as its community of programming partner organizations. Governors Island at Home can be accessed at govisland.org.
For the latest information, including ferry schedules and service changes in response to COVID-19, please visit www.govisland.org.
Black Lives Matter. The Trust for Governors Island and Friends of Governors Island stand with all who condemn systematic racism, violence and injustices against black people and communities of color.
It is more important than ever that public spaces, including our own, do more to increase accessibility and amplify the diverse voices of New York City. We re-commit ourselves to constantly examining and strengthening our continued efforts to ensure that Governors island is a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment for all.
With 120 acres of open space, Governors Island is a natural haven for New Yorkers. While the Island’s opening is delayed, the need to care for and maintain our park continues during this challenging time. On Tuesday, May 5, we’re participating in the global day of giving, #GivingTuesdayNow to raise funds and support for this oasis in New York Harbor.
Our goal is to raise $10,000 to help care for the Island’s 120 acres of open space during the weeks and months ahead. These funds will support our park maintenance staff in providing critical care for the Island’s landscapes, so all New Yorkers can enjoy the Island when we’re able to welcome you back to its shores. There are lots of ways to support us on #GivingTuesdayNow:
All of us at the Trust for Governors Island know how challenging these unprecedented times are for New York City. As we navigate the impacts of COVID-19 on our daily lives, we are reminded of just how important open space and cultural resources are to our communities, and how they enliven our city.
With a heavy heart, the Trust has determined it must delay our originally planned May 1st opening of the 2020 public season on Governors Island. The health and safety of our visitors, staff, tenants, vendors and community of cultural organizations is our top priority, and we are committed to supporting the City’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. We look forward to soon announcing when we will be able to welcome you back to the Island this year.
The Island is continuously responding to guidance at the Federal, State and Local levels, and has already implemented the following measures:
Limiting access to Governors Island to essential staff and tenants only
Educating our staff, volunteers, and programming partners on preventative measures and social distancing in line with recommendations by the Center for Disease Control and the New York City Department of Health
Dramatically increasing cleaning protocols in common areas
Though closed to the public, we are looking to find new ways to connect New Yorkers to Governors Island’s rich history, waterfront ecology, innovative landscapes and diverse art and culture, starting with virtual programming over these next few weeks for some needed springtime joy. Please explore our website or follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, where we’ll be sharing daily bloom photos and digital resources to stay connected.
In the meantime, we look forward to seeing you on the ferry soon.
Clare Newman President and CEO The Trust for Governors Island
As springtime continues, blooms on Governors Island show no sign of slowing down! Since the Island is closed, we present some of our most brilliant recent blooms here in lieu of seeing them in person. Last year, our Horticulture team planted a variety of bulbs in beds across the Island. Now, these gorgeous flowers have finally arrived. A selection of multicolored tulips brighten the outside of Building 108 above. See more below and some of our earlier blooms here.
A vibrant and unique resource for all New Yorkers, Governors Island is truly a special place. To keep this special place welcoming and beautiful, Governors Island relies on dedicated volunteers and supporters. Every year, thousands of New Yorkers volunteer with the Friends of Governors Island. They lend a hand helping our gardening team care for the Island's 120 acres of open space and providing information and free walking tours to the Island's nearly 1M annual visitors.
In honor of Volunteer Appreciation Week, The Friends would like to celebrate the 350+ individuals and groups who have dedicated over 25,000 hours to making Governors Island a welcoming and beautiful place for all New Yorkers. Thank you for your support!
Whether relaxing in an Adirondack chair after a volunteer shift, discovering a robin’s nest, or bonding with one of our working dogs, Max, each of our volunteers has a special connection with Governors Island. Please join us in celebrating our amazing community of volunteers who make Governors Island the special place that it is.
Governors Island is closed, but seasonal changes continue to sweep across the landscape. From the Historic District to Picnic Point, beautiful spring blooms are appearing everywhere! Above, a Prunus ‘Snow Goose’ flowering cherry’s brilliant white blossoms light up Liggett Terrace.
Pink magnolias contrast with the blue sky near Castle Williams.
Star magnolias emerge in dazzling numbers on Colonels Row.
This summersweet, whose flowers form in long clusters called bottlebrushes, aids drainage as part of a bioswale in the Urban Farm (and looks great while doing it).
Saucer magnolia buds are nearly ready to unfurl at the foot of Discovery Hill.
A variety of bright daffodils dot the Historic District along with an assortment of wildflowers.
Hibiscus buds appear small for now but will soon become impressively large, scarlet blooms in Liggett Terrace.
Vibrant cornelian cherry flowers match the iconic yellow houses of Nolan Park. As spring progresses, more and more blooms will appear on Governors Island—follow us on social media for the latest floral developments!
March 11, 2020. New York, NY. The Trust for Governors Island today issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) designed to strengthen Governors Island’s arts and culture offerings and transform the Island into a year-round cultural destination. The RFP invites artistic, cultural, environmental and educational organizations to submit proposals for use of two buildings in Nolan Park, a collection of 20 former military officer homes on a long-term basis. The RFP is part of the Trust’s broader efforts to breathe new life into several buildings within the Island’s Historic District with year-round tenants in the areas of arts and culture, commercial activity, and hospitality and amenities to support both expanded access and increasing visitorship.
“Arts and education have been central to Governors Island’s remarkable transformation over the past decade, and its history, architecture and ecology make it an inspiring place for learning and creativity,” said Clare Newman, President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “We’re thrilled to grow our community of year-round tenants by offering long-term spaces to arts and educational organizations in Nolan Park, an incredibly unique campus setting for both creating and experiencing cultural programming”
The buildings offered through the RFP are located within Nolan Park, a collection of 20 19th century homes five minutes from daily ferry service from Lower Manhattan and part of the Governors Island Historic District. 20 Nolan, a 1902 construction originally built as a single-family home, will be gut-renovated by the Trust and converted into two pre-built suites, each approximately 2,600 SF and will be move-in ready by 2022. Each suite will be offered to cultural organizations with ground-floor space for exhibitions and public programs, with additional upstairs space for offices, artist studios and classroom space. 9 Nolan, a 8,500 SF building built in1839 building that has been used as residences, a hospital and the headquarters for the Military Division of the Atlantic, is available for immediate occupancy and offered as-is. The building contains 13 dormitory-style studios with communal kitchens and facilities which can be converted into studio spaces for an artist residency program, or offices for cultural organizations. This RFP is the first offering of these unique spaces for year-round, long-term cultural use. Two additional RFPs for buildings within the Historic District will be released in the coming months.
Over time, the Trust intends to transform Nolan Park into a multi-tenant cultural campus. This RFP seeks to provide long-term homes for organizations in the arts and culture space, giving Governor Island a year-round presence in the field, as well as environmental organizations looking to take advantage of the Island’s New York Harbor location. The Trust will undertake necessary restoration of the buildings in order to make the RFP accessible to a broad range of organizations.
Responses to the RFP are due May 29, 2020. To view the RFP, click here.
Over the past decade, Governors Island has grown as a lively center for arts, culture, environmental research and recreation. Nolan Park has played a key role in this transformation as a seasonal hub for free cultural programming during the Island’s public season. In 2019, 30 organizations spanning the visual arts, performance, culture, environmental science and education presented exhibits, workshops, performances and talks, and hosted artists-in-residence in the historic houses of Nolan Park and Colonels Row. The Trust intends expand this successful seasonal programming model into year-round tenancies for cultural organizations across NYC and beyond.
Governors Island has undergone a tremendous transformation in recent years, including a $400 million investment in Island-wide infrastructure and the creation of a resilient 43-acre park. Successful respondents to this RFP will join the diverse roster of Governors Island tenants, including the Urban Assembly NY Harbor School, a public high school with over 500 students that offers career and technical education in marine and environmental careers; the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Arts Center, an artist residence program that functions as a public gallery space during the season and completed a 40,000 square foot renovation last September; and QC Terme, a destination day spa that is currently under construction.
In 2020, Governors Island will be open every day from May 1 through October 31. The Island is open from 10 AM to 6 PM on weekdays and from 10 AM to 7 PM on weekends, Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day.
About The Trust for Governors Island The Trust for Governors Island is the nonprofit corporation created by the City of New York that is responsible for the redevelopment and operation of 150 acres of Governors Island. The Trust's mission is to transform Governors Island into a vibrant resource for New York City, making this island at the center of New York Harbor a destination with extraordinary public open space, as well as educational, not-for-profit and commercial facilities.
March 9, 2020. The Trust for Governors Island (The Trust) announced today its lineup of free seasonal programming and exhibitions, presented by 30 organizations during Governors Island’s 2020 public season. The historic former military houses in Nolan Park and Colonels Row will once again serve as venues for the programs, which will engage visitors of all ages with offerings that span visual and performing arts, environmental science, and culture. Outdoor programs on urban agriculture and environmental sustainability will also return on weekends at Governors Island’s Urban Farm. Governors Island will be open to the public in 2020 from May 1 through November 1. More announcements on special events and other details about Governors Island’s 2020 season will be made in the coming weeks.
“We’re excited to announce another packed summer lineup this year, with a range of new events and old favorites designed to engage New Yorkers in all Governors Island has to offer,” said Clare Newman, President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “We’re proud to celebrate New York City’s diverse cultural community by hosting free programs from 30 organizations ranging from visual art presented by international artists, hands-on activities for kids and discussions on pressing environmental issues. We invite everyone to visit and experience Governors Island’s rich history, diverse ecology and stunning waterfront views—it’s just a quick ferry ride away.”
New programs coming to Governors Island this year include the inaugural Asia Society Triennial, titled We Do Not Dream Alone, which will debut in locations across New York City on June 5. On Governors Island, We Do Not Dream Alone will showcase works by 12 international artists and collectives displayed in three historic buildings along Colonels Row, on view Wednesdays–Sundays through August 9. Other new programs in the historic houses include an exhibition and research hub of architectural solutions to the challenges of climate change by the GAUD at Pratt Institute School of Architecture; explorations of New York’s linguistic diversity by the Endangered Language Alliance; traditional kimono exhibitions, workshops and live performances by Japan Performing Arts; a STEM-focused installation for all ages by Beam Center; works by students, faculty and alumni of Pennsylvania College of Art & Design examining human alterations to the environment; and visual arts exhibitions and residency programs for New York artists by Art Crawl Harlem, BronxArtSpace, and New York Art Residency and Studios (NARS) Foundation.
A diverse group of organizations will return to host programs on Governors Island this season, including the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA), which will present works by dozens of artists across two Colonels Row houses; the Climate Museum’s public exhibition on climate science and solutions; art exhibitions and residencies by the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA); showcases, talks and performances by Native artists with the American Indian Community House; the return of 4heads’ Portal, the expansive annual art fair now in its 13th year; and many more.
“Every year arts and culture on Governors Island continues to grow, welcoming new voices, new perspectives and new programs that deepen our understanding of the world around us,” said Meredith Johnson, VP of Art and Culture at the Trust for Governors Island. “We are excited to welcome visitors in 2020, furthering the Island’s commitment to audiences and cultural organizations from across the five boroughs with a season exploring the most pressing issues of our time and providing platforms for presentation unlike any other in New York.”
Every year, the Trust invites organizations and non-profits operating in the fields of art, culture and education to propose seasonal public programs including exhibitions, residencies, workshops, performances, talks, screenings and more to be held in the Island’s iconic houses. Governors Island provides a platform for organizations from New York and beyond to reach a diverse and growing audience of engaged visitors, where collaboration is encouraged between participating organizations and space is provided to presenters free of charge.
The Island’s arts and culture program continues to grow in new ways each year. In September 2019, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council opened its expanded Arts Center at Governors Island, a 40,000 sq. ft. facility that houses galleries with exhibitions and free programs accessible to visitors in the public season as well as year-round studio space for 40 resident artists. The Arts Center will present its first full season of public programming in 2020 with more details to be announced soon.
Environmental science and urban agriculture programs return this year to the Urban Farm on Governors Island. Earth Matter NY, GrowNYC, The Honeybee Conservancy and Island Bee Project will continue their public programs where visitors can roll up their sleeves and dig into a wealth of topics related to the environment and sustainable agriculture in urban settings.
Programs in Nolan Park, Colonels Row and the Urban Farm will open to the public on weekends beginning in May and continuing through November 1, with additional public hours for some programs. Programs on Colonels Row will be presented in two sessions and will rotate in August. All are free and open to the public. Additional details on all indoor programs are available below.
In 2020, Governors Island will be open to the public daily from May 1 to November 1. The Island will be open 10AM-6PM on weekdays and 10AM-7PM on weekends. Additional details about the Island’s 2020 season and special events will be announced in the coming weeks.
Free ongoing arts, culture and education programs presented on Governors Island in 2020 include:
PROGRAMS IN NOLAN PARK (Weekends, May 2-November 1, 11AM-5PM, unless otherwise noted)
American Indian Community House The American Indian Community House will present art exhibitions and artists talks with Native artists from New York City in the Admiral’s House in Nolan Park. In addition, AICH will host live music and dance performances as well as projects about Native American history in NYC. American Indian Community House will be open 2-5PM Wednesdays through Fridays beginning May 1 in addition to 11AM-5PM on weekends.
Art Crawl Harlem Art Crawl Harlem’s house will feature curated exhibitions of emerging and underrecognized local artists and a site-specific residency program that encourages artists to explore the links between Governors Island, Harlem and the globe through painting, photography, performance and multimedia storytelling.
Billion Oyster Project In the BOP exhibit in Nolan Park, visitors will get up close and personal with everyone’s favorite bi-valve. Visitors can dive into the work of the Billion Oyster Project to restore oyster populations in New York’s waterways, learn about their collaboration with the New York Harbor School and discover NYC oyster history and the many marine critters that call the Big Apple home.
The Climate Museum The Climate Museum will present an exhibition that focuses on steps we can take toward a climate-safe future. The Climate Museum’s program in Nolan Park will open in June 2020.
Endangered Language Alliance In celebration of ELA’s 10th anniversary, Hearing New York will showcase the city’s lesser-known languages and cultures with a focus on forging a new kind of public linguistics. The house will feature Mother Tongues, a photo series featuring speaker portraits, as well as video and audio recordings. ELA will also host an event series presenting poetry, music and stories from a wide range of languages and regions, education and literacy programs, a film series and more. The Endangered Language Alliance’s program in Nolan Park will be open May 2-September 7.
Harvestworks Harvestworks will present a dynamic program of residencies, exhibitions and workshops centered on the intersection of art and technology, including the annual New York Electronic Art Festival, a celebration of 21st-century art and experiences, as well as a participatory environment for artists, scientists and the public.
Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts returns to Governors Island with MoCADA House. Featuring art exhibitions, performances, workshops, film screenings and more every weekend, expect to discover the work of rising artists as part of the museum’s Creators in Residence program and its new multidisciplinary residency program, Masters At Work. Explore themes of identity and expression, roots and culture, love and imagination, health, community and arts education through the lens of the African Diaspora.
The New York Virtual Volcano Observatory The New York Virtual Volcano Observatory brings the experience of exploring a volcano to Governors Island. Join volcanologists from CUNY, NYU and other NYC institutions to discover the complex life of magmas and volcanos – and the rich volcanic history of the New York region – through virtual reality experiences, a volcano sound gallery, guest speakers and kid-friendly activities.
NYC Audubon Visit NYC Audubon’s urban nature center for family-friendly activities, information on the city’s birds and habitats, binoculars to borrow and opportunities to meet avian-inspired artists at work. Visitors can join nature-themed workshops and guided bird walks across Governors Island, where over 200 unique species have been documented.
Pennsylvania College of Art & Design The Pennsylvania College of Art & Design will present Definitely, Probably, an exhibition focusing on climate change and human interventions in the natural world. Featuring artworks by PCA&D students, faculty, staff and alumni, as well as special programs for young artists, Definitely, Probably centers on three main curatorial pillars: intergenerational dialogue, artists as creative innovators and the college’s home city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Pioneer Works Pioneer Works is a cultural center and artist residency
based in Red Hook, Brooklyn, devoted to building community through the arts and
sciences. Pioneer Works will use their house on Governors Island as a platform
to support artist residencies and collaboration with other program partners
from around New York City, as well as a venue for presenting special classes,
participatory programs, and performances across our creative disciplines.
play:groundNYC (outdoor) play:groundNYC is back for a 5th season on Governors Island. Come and play, build and create at New York City’s only adventure playground. Located just south of Nolan Park, the Yard is a 50,000 square-foot adventure playground stocked with loose parts, tools and space for kids to play, imagine and dream big. In addition to free weekend play, play:groundNYC offers an 11-week summer camp program, school field trips and more. play:groundNYC’s The Yard will be open weekends 12-4pm.
Pratt Institute School of Architecture The Pratt Institute School of Architecture will showcase research and design projects by students and faculty inspired by Governors Island and addressing the challenges of climate change in the urban environment. Projects include explorations of how historic buildings can be modified to be more energy efficient, as well as flood mitigation and adaptation strategies for creating more resilient coastlines.
Swale Swale will present a variety of environmental arts programming exploring the intersections of soil, water and food. Visitors will be invited to participate in walk-in workshops and join free classes on a diverse array of environmental and arts topics. In addition, exhibitions and multimedia installations will explore our shared relationship with the natural world. Swale will also host public programs in the Urban Farm with more details to be announced soon.
Triangle Arts Association Triangle Arts Association is an artist-founded, non-profit art institution working locally and globally since 1982, with programs that emphasize research, dialogue and experimentation through residencies and public programs. On Governors Island, Triangle will host ongoing residencies for artists across disciplines, including sculpture, painting, performance and video. An evolving exhibition will provide visitors with a first-hand view of works-in-process.
West Harlem Art Fund With over two decades of experience showcasing art in public spaces, West Harlem Art Fund creates exhibitions emphasizing contemporary art’s relationship to history and cultural heritage. In Nolan Park, West Harlem Art Fund will partner with local galleries to present exhibitions of international artists exploring migration, cultural exchange and connections between Governors Island, NYC and points around the globe.
Works on Water Works on Water will host a residency for artists, writers, designers and researchers working on, in and with water. Studios will be open to the public on the weekends with rotating interactive projects and exhibitions in the main space. The works exhibited aim to deepen the experience of visiting the Island by connecting visitors to the waterways that surround and sustain us.
PROGRAMS IN COLONELS ROW, SESSION 1 (Weekends, May 2-August 2, 11AM-5PM, unless otherwise noted)
4heads Artists-in-Residency Program The 4heads Artists-in-Residency Program welcomes the public inside their historic house on Colonels Row for Open Studio Weekends, select weekends when visitors are invited to step into working art studios where the artists-in-residence are creating new work and discussing their process.
Asia Society Triennial: We Do Not Dream AloneWe Do Not Dream Alone In summer 2020, Asia Society will launch We Do Not Dream Alone, its inaugural Triennial of art, ideas and innovation on Governors Island and sites across NYC. On Colonels Row, 12 international artists and collectives will create immersive, site-specific installations in several houses and the surrounding lawns as part of the city-wide exhibition. The Asia Society Triennial will be open 1-5PM Wednesdays through Fridays and 11AM-6PM on weekends, June 5 through August 9.
Beam Center Beam Center is a community of artists, kids, teens, adults and designers collaborating to create spectacular projects rooted in a passionate curiosity for learning, making and sharing. Beam Center will turn a house on Colonels Row into an enchanting light-art installation where every room is filled with immersive illuminations on the multi-dimensional properties of light, including infinity mirrors, touch-responsive LEDs and more, plus hands-on workshops such as solar printing and circuitry building.
New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) NADA will host the third edition of its collaborative, public exhibition on Governors Island this season. Spanning two historic buildings on Colonels Row, the exhibition is inspired by the Island as a site for artistic experimentation and will feature works by dozens of artists from the organization’s international community of galleries and alternative spaces. NADA’s program on Colonels Row will be open Thursdays-Sundays, May 7 through August 2.
Syracuse University Through an artist residency program and rotating exhibitions, MFA graduate students from the Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing Arts will present works responding to the history, environment and architecture of Governors Island. The house will serve as a hub for an institution with global reach as well as a vehicle for NYC audiences to connect with the next generation of artists.
PROGRAMS IN COLONELS ROW, SESSION 2 (Weekends, August 29-November 1, 11AM-5PM, unless otherwise noted)
4heads presents Portal: Governors IslandPortal: Governors Island Portal: Governors Island is a free, large-scale, independent art fair celebrating its 12th year on the Island. This expansive exhibition will include over 80 artist projects and immersive installations during the month of September. Visitors will be introduced to the best, newly discovered emerging artists in what the New York Times has dubbed “The Art Fair for the 99%.” Portal: Governors Island will be open weekends, September 4-27.
BronxArtSpace BronxArtSpace is a nonprofit gallery promoting the innovative ideas of underrepresented and emerging artists. Their Colonels Row house will be a platform to showcase the work of contemporary artists from the Bronx and beyond through a residency and exhibition program inspired by the Island as a site for addressing environmental and other issues of global concern.
Escaping Time The exhibition Escaping Time: Art from U.S. Prisons offers visitors a view of the creativity that exists within prison walls. The paintings and sculptures on display reflect the ways in which people who are incarcerated cope with their respective situations, while the staff and other aspects of the exhibition also offer insight into issues related to the criminal justice system.
Japan Performing Arts The Japan Performing Arts house on Colonels Row will feature an exhibition of traditional kimono costumes and eco-friendly textile workshops, as well as live performances of Bon Odori dances and other art forms that expand into the Island’s outdoor spaces.
New York Art Residency and Studios (NARS) Foundation NARS is a Brooklyn-based organization dedicated to supporting artists at the local and international level. Their residency program on Colonels Row will allow artists to research and produce new work in dialogue with the public, while curated exhibitions will showcase work by NARS’ network of over 200 artists from 36 countries.
PROGRAMS IN THE URBAN FARM (Weekends, May 2-November 1, 12-4PM, unless otherwise noted)
Earth Matter NY’s Compost Learning Center & Soil Start Farm Visitors can get their hands dirty at the Compost Learning Center! This facility processes over 60,000 lbs. of food scraps into compost each month, much of which is used on Governors Island. Visitors can learn about all things composting and might even meet some goats and chickens. The Soil Start Farm demonstrates how gardeners can use readily available materials to create compost to grow plants in urban soil conditions.
GrowNYC’s Teaching Garden GrowNYC’s Teaching Garden is a one-acre urban farm that engages visitors in all aspects of urban agriculture. The Teaching Garden features over 70 vegetable beds made from recycled plastic lumber, farm-style rows, an aquaponics system, an outdoor kitchen, a high tunnel greenhouse, fruit trees, rainwater harvesting systems, a rain garden and more. During the week, GrowNYC offers Teaching Garden field trips to students and summer camps. Weekend public programming includes a farm stand, tours, gardening workshops and more.
The Honeybee Conservancy & Island Bee Project’s Bee Sanctuary The Bee Sanctuary on Governors Island is home to dozens of bee species. Join Island Bee Project and The Honeybee Conservancy for an extraordinary look into the fascinating world of bees, the super pollinators responsible for nearly one in every three bites of food you eat.
About The Trust for Governors Island The Trust for Governors Island is the nonprofit corporation created by the City of New York that is responsible for the redevelopment and operation of 150 acres of Governors Island. The Trust's mission is to transform Governors Island into a vibrant resource for New York City, making this island at the center of New York Harbor a destination with extraordinary public open space, as well as educational, not-for-profit and commercial facilities.
Looking for Volunteer Opportunities? Join our team!
Governors Island relies on dedicated volunteers to keep this incredible public space welcoming and beautiful for all. Whether you're hoping to try your hand at gardening, meet new people or become a true Island insider, our volunteer program has something for everyone. Apply today!
Want to share your enthusiasm about Governors Island with other visitors and help build a community of supporters? Island Ambassadors provide visitor services and act as a welcoming presence on Governors Island by giving directions, answering questions and informing visitors about events and activities around the Island.
Comments and opinions count! Join our survey team and collect valuable feedback from visitors about their experience on Governors Island. Your efforts will help us understand and improve the visitor experience!
Got a green thumb? As a Gardening Volunteer, you will assist the Trust for Governors Island Horticulture Staff in caring for the Island’s sprawling meadows, young forest groves, ornamental flowerbeds and landscaped hillsides.
Love Governors Island and want to share your enthusiasm with other visitors? Tour Guides lead engaging free public tours that highlight the Island’s history, current programming and plans for the future.
We love our volunteers! Join our team and get some great perks:
Free ferry rides to Governors Island
Governors Island volunteer t-shirt and nametag
Discount on merchandise from the Welcome Centers
Exciting field trips to other parks, museums and exhibitions around the city
If you have a passion about public spaces and the value they bring to urban environments, enjoy getting to know new people, and love being outdoors, Governors Island is the ideal place to volunteer. We look forward to having you on our team!