N.Y. summer cultural program begins July 1 By Jorge Sidron / June 25, 1999 Share 1 -- NEW YORK -- Summer's version of the popular Insider's Hour program here kicks off July 1 and will run through Sept. 30. Designed for the busy business traveler, leisure tourist and city resident, the hourlong tours (some are guided, some not) will be available at more than 50 museums, performing arts centers, public gardens, historic sites and zoos through-out the five boroughs. The program will be expanded this summer to include Kidsider's Hour tours, with a family orientation. Under the Insider's Hour program, each participating venue showcases a collection or a feature chosen to give visitors the most cultural value for their hourlong visit."We offer some of the world's best and most diverse cultural options, but so many choices can be overwhelming when your time is limited," said Fran Reiter, president of the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau, which created the program. "Insider's Hour and now Kidsider's Hour work because they make the cultural side of New York more accessible for visitors of all ages."Cultural tourism is big business in the city, with almost 60% of all visitors participating in some sort of cultural activity, according to the bureau. In order to participate in the promotion, many institutions that previously did not offer tours had to create them. Others had to revamp their tours to fit the hourlong format. Schedules vary for the tours, and the regular admission fees at most institutions are the only cost involved.The Insider's and Kidsider's Hour tours are being promoted in ads in the New York Times and in City Guide and Museums New York magazines. Brochures are available at hotels and attractions throughout the five boroughs.The promotion is produced by the visitors bureau with support from American Express and Continental Airlines. American Express cardmembers can call a hotline -- (212) 484-1216 -- for Insider's Hour privileges.The participantsFollowing are some of the options available in the Insider's Hour program.Explore the arts and sciences at the Brooklyn Children's Museum's 10 galleries of hands-on exhibits.Watch a dance class in progress at the Dance Theater of Harlem.Learn how to tend and harvest flowers and vegetables at the New York Botanical Garden.Go behind the scenes at two of the city's great performing arts houses: Lincoln Center and City Center.Take guided tours in all of the Historic House Trusts' 19 sites throughout the five boroughs.Learn about Jewish culture and history at the Jewish Museum, which houses a collection spanning 4,000 years.Understand what happened to the nation's immigrants after they passed through Ellis Island by touring the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.Walk back in time to the 1700s during a tour of six restored buildings at Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island.Explore some of the world's best permanent collections and special exhibitions at the Frick Collection, the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and others.Visit one of the country's premier TV stations, WNET Channel 13. Tour the master control, digital archive and editing rooms and production offices of shows such as "Nature," "American Masters" and "Great Performances."For a complete list of participating cultural attractions, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Insider's Hour, NYCVB, 810 Seventh Ave., third floor, New York 10019.Details of the promotion also are available on the bureau's Web site at HYPERLINK http://www.nycvisit.com www.nycvisit.com.