41 Venues Join Hourlong Tour Plan

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NEW YORK--Got one hour?

Through Labor Day, 60 minutes is all it will take to sample the highlights at dozens of this city's top cultural institutions and attractions under a citywide promotion dubbed Insider's Hour.

Designed with the busy business traveler, leisure tourist and city resident in mind, the one-hour-long guided tours are available at 41 museums, zoos, gardens and performing arts centers throughout the five boroughs. Under the program, each participating venue showcases a collection or feature chosen to give visitors the most cultural value for their 60-minute visit.

The promotion marks the first time the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau and the city's cultural institutions have joined forces to promote the city's cultural industry, according to the bureau.

"Without a doubt, in terms of quality and quantity, New York City is home to the world's best and most diverse cultural attractions," said Fran Reiter, the bureau's president and chief executive officer.

"Visitors may not feel they have enough time to see them all. The Insider's Hour enables them to make the most of their time here in New York."

Cultural tourism is big business in the city, with 70% of international visitors and 40% of domestic visitors last year participating in some sort of cultural activity, according to the bureau.

In order to participate in the promotion, some institutions that previously didn't offer tours had to create them, and others had to revamp tours to fit the one-hour format.

The Insider's Hour tours are being promoted in full-page ads in the New York Times and in the magazines Museums New York and City Guide. In addition, the bureau has produced 150,000 Insider's Hour brochures for distribution in hotels and attractions throughout the five boroughs.

Schedules vary for the tours, and the institution's regular admission price is often all it takes to participate.

For a complete list of participating cultural attractions, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Insider's Hour, NYCVB, 810 Seventh Ave. 3rd Floor, New York 10019.

Details of the promotion also are available on the NYCVB's Web site, at www.nycvisit.com.

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Following are some of the tours available in the Insider's Hour program.

  • Get an inside look at film and television production at the American Museum of the Moving Image in Queens.
  • Join a docent-led search through summer gardens at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.
  • Tour the theaters of Lincoln Center, going behind the scenes to see rehearsals.
  • Walk back in time at Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island.
  • Take a wildlife walking tour to view some of the world's most endangered species at the Bronx Zoo.
  • Experience old New York and the financial district with a Fortunes and Finance tour of Trinity churchyard, Federal Hall, Liberty Street and the Bank of New York conducted by Heritage Trails New York.
  • See some of the world's best permanent collections and temporary exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum, among others.
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