! Alert

Indoor spaces offering public programs & galleries on Governors Island require proof of COVID-19 vaccination in accordance with the Key to NYC Executive Order. Click here to review all health & safety protocols prior to your visit.

Indoor spaces offering public programs & galleries on Governors Island require proof of COVID-19 vaccination in accordance with the Key to NYC Executive Order. Click here to review all health & safety protocols prior to your visit.

​30 Arts and Education Organizations to Present Free Programming on Governors Island for 2020 Public Season


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:

(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 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 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.

(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.

(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 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.

(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.

For more information contact Claire Holmes, Risa Heller Communications at holmes@risaheller.com.