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30 New York-Based Arts and Cultural Organizations to Host Free Programs Spanning Art, Culture and Environmental Science on Governors Island


March 7, 2019. The Trust for Governors Island (The Trust) announced today 30 New York-based organizations who will host free seasonal programs and exhibitions on Governors Island as part of its calendar of arts and cultural programs. Presented in the historic former military homes of Nolan Park and Colonels Row, programs announced today will engage visitors of all ages in the visual and performing arts, environmental science and culture. In 2019, Governors Island will be open to the public from May 1-October 31.

“Each season, the short ferry ride to Governors Island offers much more than just a visit to one of the city’s most beloved public spaces – New Yorkers have the opportunity to deeply engage, learn and delight in the visual arts, performances, cultural programs and environmental science, presented by organizations from across the city” said Michael Samuelian, President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “This season’s calendar of programs represents the Island’s spirit as a diverse and historically important place. We are thrilled to continue our mission of expanding access to Governors Island as an unparalleled setting for the creation and discovery of arts, culture and learning.”

Highlighted new programs on Governors Island this year include a residency program that illuminates the histories and futures of the African diaspora presented by the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA), the House of Poetics, a space for poetry and multidisciplinary production presented by The Cooper Union, an exhibition of work by Native artists from New York City with talks, performances and events by the American Indian Community House, and environmental education workshops co-presented by the Human Impacts Institute and Climate Reality Project. Additional new seasonal artist residencies were also announced today from academic institutions including the School of Visual Arts and School of Art at Syracuse University, as well as residencies, events and exhibitions from Brooklyn-based Pioneer Works and Triangle Arts Association.

An exciting range of organizations returning to Governors Island this season include The Climate Museum’s exhibition focusing on steps toward a climate-safe future, a newly expanded program from The New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) inspired by Governors Island as a site for artistic expression, the 12th iteration of 4heads’ independent art fair featuring over 80 artists, and Swale’s indoor soil lab, an extension of artist Mary Mattingly’s groundbreaking floating food forest.

For kids, young artists will once again enjoy free hands-on art-making workshops with The Children’s Museum of the Arts, play:groundNYC will expand on New York City’s only adventure playground with a new education hub presented in collaboration with the Student Conservation Association, and Alfred University’s Art Force 5 program will present an exhibition exploring the history of comic books along with art-marking workshops celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance. New for kids this year is STEM Kids NYC, who will host student-centered workshops on physics, kite-flying, coding and more.

Additional new and returning organizations hosting programs in Governors Island’s historic houses this year include the Billion Oyster Project, the City Volcano Lab, Harvestworks and the 2019 Electronic Art Festival, NYC Audubon, the Student Conservation Association, West Harlem Art Fund, Works on Water, Escaping Time: Art from US Prisons, Rare Air Exhibition Space, Rising Sun Performance Company, Dysfunctional Collective, Exquisite Corpse Company, Holocenter and Linked Dance Theater.

“Each season, the community of arts and cultural organizations on Governors Island grows and the programming grounds itself deeper in the history, landscape and ecology of this unique place,” said Meredith Johnson, VP of Arts and Culture for the Trust for Governors Island. “We are thrilled to welcome such a distinguished group of new and returning organizations in 2019, presenting an unmatched variety of cultural experiences for New York City audiences.”

The Trust invites cultural organizations and non-profits to propose seasonal public programming on Governors Island every year, including exhibitions, workshops, performances, film screenings, talks and more. The Island’s platform for public programming positions Governors Island as a citywide resource for emerging arts, cultural and educational organizations to engage and share their work in front of a diverse and growing audience. As part of this platform, over 150,ooo square feet of indoor space within the Island’s historic houses is made available free of charge to organizations producing free public programming.

Programs presented in Governors Island’s Nolan Park will be open to the public on weekends throughout the entire season, from June 1-October 28, with additional public hours for some programs. Colonels Row programs will open May 4 and will rotate in August. All are free and open to the public.

In 2019, Governors Island will be open to the public daily from May 1 to October 31. A full calendar of special events, activities, Trust commissioned public art and programming presented at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Arts Center on Governors Island will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information, visit

Free indoor programs presented on Governors Island in 2019 include:


(Saturday, June 1-October 27, 11AM-5PM, unless otherwise noted)

American Indian Community House

The American Indian Community House will host art exhibitions and artists talks with three Native artists from New York City. In addition, AICH will host a Native story teller, a Native American Youth Council visual project about the history of Native Americans in New York City, Native American musical and theatrical performances and presentations by Native American artisans (jewelry makers, fashion designers and others).

Billion Oyster Project

The Billion Oyster Project (BOP) is an effort to restore a sustainable oyster population and to foster awareness, affinity and understanding of the Harbor by engaging New Yorkers directly in the work of restoring one billion oysters. The hands-on science of reef construction and monitoring is executed through in-school, restoration-based STEM learning opportunities, community science and research, restaurant shell collection and volunteer programs. 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 and the New York Harbor School, as well as learn about NYC oyster history and the many marine critters that call the Big Apple home.

Children’s Museum of the Arts

In CMA’s Free Arts Island Outpost, young artists travel to the historic Governors Island for free hands-on art-making workshops and art-viewing experiences! On weekends, the open outdoor space of Free Arts Island Outpost beckons families to become inspired and explore big projects utilizing found objects and traditional mediums. CMA’s Free Arts Island Outpost is a space to invent, adapt and transform relationships.

City Volcano Lab

City Volcano Lab’s New York Virtual Volcano Observatory brings the experience of exploring a volcano to Governors Island. Join volcanologists from CUNY 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.

The Climate Museum

The Climate Museum will present the first exhibition in the US to focus on steps young people can take — and are taking — toward a climate-safe future. At this family-friendly show, visitors will explore interactive installations to learn how clean energy, green design, strong decision-making on fossil fuels, and more can transition us to a carbon-free economy and culture. The show will celebrate youth leaders who are moving us forward, and invite all to get involved through a range of activities and commitments.

The Cooper Union

House of Poetics is a space for the practice of contemporary poetics via interdisciplinary artistic production. The project is a hybrid studio, publisher, lab, and gallery that explores the role of poetry in society. Presented by The Cooper Union, architecture students imagine installations inspired by the phenomenology of the house and its programming, which will include visiting poets, artists, architects and musicians.


Harvestworks will present a dynamic program of residencies, exhibitions and workshops centered on the intersection of art and technology including the 2019 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.

Human Impacts Institute + Climate Reality Project NYC

The Human Impacts Institute/Climate Reality house combines arts, culture and science-based learning to inspire environmental action. Programs will inspire visitors’ engagement and action on local environmental solutions through the ongoing exhibits, workshops and residency programs of the Human Impacts Institute, as well as the weekly presentations from metro-area Climate Reality leaders. Visitors will also be able to engage with diverse leaders from the arts, policy, science and beyond, while connecting with the ways they can make a difference.

Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA)

Since 1999, MoCADA has been widely regarded as an incubator for emerging artists and curators of color, having greatly supported and furthered the artistic careers of over 100 groundbreaking artists across 20+ countries to date. To celebrate this longstanding history, specifically 20 years of rich, cultural programming and trailblazing initiatives, MoCADA will invite seven rising creators to participate in its newly expanded residency program in 2019. Selected artists and curators will work with celebrated industry leaders to create public programming that illuminates the histories and futures of the African diaspora and art, in connection to themes of social justice and the upliftment of marginalized communities.

NYC Audubon

Visit NYC Audubon’s seasonal 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. Bird walks and nature-themed workshops will also be scheduled on weekends throughout the season.

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 hosts a rotating selection of public programs and workshops across the disciplines of visual art, music, narrative arts, science and technology. On Governors Island, Pioneer Works residents will create exciting new work for the public to experience, along with an exhibition and events hosted in the historic house.

play:groundNYC (outdoor)

play:groundNYC is back for their fourth year on Governors Island, stewarding and operating The Yard – a 50,000 square-foot adventure playground stocked with loose parts, tools and space for you to play, imagine and dream big! This year, play:groundNYC will be offering an adventure club, school field trips, professional development for educators, a ten-week summer camp program and, of course, free play every weekend all season long.

play:groundNYC’s The Yard hours are 12-4PM and opens May 4.

play:groundNYC + Student Conservation Association

The SCA and play:groundNYC will co-program a house in Nolan Park for the 2019 season. This exciting collaboration will see the house transformed into an education hub, highlighting the work and shared values of both organizations – primarily environmental stewardship and awareness, youth participation and play advocacy. Programs will be suitable for young people age 5 to 18, with additional resources for adults.


Collaborating with organizations including the NYC Urban Field Station, Space HL and the Urban Soils Institute, 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 for a New York Soil Library, an archive of soil samples from across NYC, and join free classes about local soils, international seas, as well as edible and medicinal plants. In addition, exhibitions and multimedia installations will explore processes of environmental decay and transformation, from everyday found objects to massive coral reefs and imagined dystopian landscapes.

Triangle Arts Association

Triangle Arts Association is an artist-founded non-profit art institution in New York City, 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 in-process artwork.

West Harlem Art Fund

The West Harlem Art Fund returns to Governors Island in 2019 with a two-part exhibition, public programming and an educational tasting room for the season. Traces is a pan-Asian art show that opens our season in May featuring eight artists in partnership with the Eli Klein and Aicon Contemporary Galleries. In late July, West Harlem Art Fund will present Crossing the Sands, a contemporary art show with individual artists representing the Caribbean, Africa and the MENA region. Public programming will spotlight dance, music and cuisines from South Asia and Africa.

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 work exhibited aims to deepen the experience of visiting the Island by connecting visitors to the waterways that surround us.


(Weekends, May 4-August 4, 11AM-5PM unless otherwise noted)

4heads Artists in Residency Program

The 4heads Artists in Residency Program welcomes you inside a historic home 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.

Art Force 5

The Art Force 5 welcomes young and old superheroes-in-training to come make their own superhero action figure and customized cape. A huge comic book exhibit depicting the history of comic books alongside equal rights will delight both comic novices and enthusiasts. Visitors will be invited to paint a tile that, when joining forces with hundreds of others, will make some beautiful public art celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance. All free, all fun, and open to all ages.

Escaping Time

Escaping Time: Art from U.S. Prisons displays and sells artwork created by currently and formerly incarcerated individuals. While visitors view the various paintings, ceramics and sculptures, they will be able to see the humanity and creativity that exists behind prison walls.

New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA)

NADA will host the second edition of its collaborative, public exhibition on Governors Island from May 1-August 4 2019. Spanning two historic buildings on Colonels Row, the exhibition is inspired by the Island as a site for artistic experimentation and will feature artists working with the organization’s international community of galleries and alternative spaces.

Rare Air Exhibition Space

Expanding upon its exhibitions of neon artwork in 2018, Rare Air will present a new series of exhibitions centered around Green Screen practices. By utilizing color, lighting and digital video techniques, Rare Air will investigate the vastness inside of the Green Screen to amplify the physical space of our shared New York footprint.

Rising Sun Performance Company

Returning to Governors Island for their third year, Rising Sun Performance Company will continue their curated Theatrical Residency and Laboratory program offering free works on a weekly basis. The selected works will be representative of the diverse nature of the company and network of guest artists from the New York City, national and international theatre communities. Their house promises to be a hub for new work development and artistic creation, allowing audiences and creators to meet, merge and share ideas and dialogue.

School of Visual Arts (SVA)

SVA’s globally recognized Fine Arts MFA program works with emerging artists from across the U.S. and the world. This perspective provides rare glimpses into a vast archipelago of art worlds, unique socio-cultural influences and divergent aesthetic and art histories. SVA’s program on Governors Island will engage the diverse body of SVA alumni, current students, faculty and partner art schools to make site-specific work through a series of short-term residencies related to the theme of “life on an island,” and share this work with the public.


Let off some STEAM with STEM Kids NYC! Through fun, engaging, student-centered sessions, engineers (this means YOU) from age 5 to 105 will learn the fun physics of making kites and flying them, harness changing states of matter to make polymers (street name: SLIME), code an app and more. STEM Kinds NYC invites you to tap into your natural abilities for success in the wonderful world of STEM.

Syracuse University

Graduate students in the MFA program at Syracuse University’s School of Art will move beyond the academic setting as they create work in response to the history, environment, and architecture of Governors Island. With the mission of developing new modes of engaging diverse audiences, the residency on the Island will take the form of an evolving exhibition, workshops emerging from individual research, performances and screenings – all while initiating experimental means of production and opening up these creative practices to the public.


(Weekends, August 31-October 27 11AM-5PM unless otherwise noted)

4heads Presents Portal: Governors Island

Portal: Governors Island is the free, large-scale, independent art fair you have known and loved for the past 11 years as Governors Island Art Fair. Now with a fresh moniker and even more exciting exhibitions than ever, 4heads brings you over 80 full solo exhibits, side-by-side throughout the historic buildings and green spaces of Colonels Row, every weekend in September. Don’t miss 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 from August 31-September 29.

Dysfunctional Collective

The Dysfunctional Collective turns a historic house on Colonels Row into a grab box of art, theater, music and dance. Stop by to hear a song, write a poem, see a play, learn to dance, solve a mystery and make something new – or just come and explore the house.

Exquisite Corpse Company

In Exquisite Corpse Company’s performative exhibition Water, Water, Everywhere, the lampshade remembers lullabies, and the teacup can tell you a secret. It is up to you to listen. Four overlapping storylines unfold in an immersive, interdisciplinary experience inspired by Governors Island’s history inside a historic house that was once a home. The show invites visitors to explore the exhumation of memory, what makes a home and how water connects us all.


How do we represent our bodies in holographic space, and how are we embodying the virtual? Holographic Embodiment is an exhibition of art holograms and holographic media that explore physicality at the confluence of the real and virtual. Perceptions and sensations are augmented as our bodies extend into and enfold virtual engagement. Explore installations and artworks and create in the mixed reality studio for collaborative drawing.

Linked Dance Theatre

Remembrance is the story of a woman who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Part free, educational art installation and part ticketed, immersive show, the program will explore the fracturing memories of Margaret. Come discover her mind on your own time or help celebrate Margaret’s 65th birthday as one of her close friends or family members – either way, visitors will unearth things forgotten and witness what happens when our minds are no longer our own.

For a full list of exhibitions and for more information, please visit

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, visit