Inside the pitch-black Touch Tunnel, you're completely blind. On your hands and knees, you crawl forward, relying solely on your other senses to lead you through the darkness. The tunnel is only 80 feet long, but the exit might as well be miles away. After finally emerging safe (and sighted) from the most popular exhibit at Liberty Science Center, a family could still spend four more hours at the many hands-on attractions and experiences designed to enlighten visitors about the power and fun of science.
All told, Liberty Science Center houses a dozen galleries for interactive exploration. Visitors can perform surgery on a 3D robotic simulator; tip-toe across a steel girder hovering 18 feet in the air; or even connect with more than 90 different animals, including giant fish and a family of tamarin monkeys. At I Explore, young scientists ages 2–5 learn about the world around them while launching colorful balls into the air or using a xylophone made of stone slabs. When it's time to relax, the whole family can visit the largest IMAX dome theater in the U.S., which transports onlookers from outer space to the deepest depths of the oceans and just about everywhere in between.
Tribeca Cinemas screens the latest works by renowned national and international filmmakers, but not on a new-movie-every-Friday schedule. Instead, Tribeca's two theaters hosts festivals throughout the year, including the famed Tribeca Film Festival, the Architecture & Design Film Festival, NY Television Festival, and Vision Fest. In between fests, the theater's curators stick to foreign films and repertory classics, which they screen using both digital projections and projectors for 35mm and 16mm reels. They also do private screenings and theater rentals.
But entertainment at Tribeca Cinemas isn't just limited to what's onscreen. Soirees at The Varick Room, the theater's industrial-chic event venue, run the gamut from film premieres and rehearsal dinners to lavish cocktail parties. Backed by glowing red letters that spell "LIQUORS," bartenders whip up cocktails themed around each event, while the wait-staff distributes beverages and bottle service to a soundtrack of live entertainment.
Deemed one of the year's 25 film festivals worth its entry fee, ACEFEST received more than 1,000 submissions from all over the country for 2010, and the final lineup screens a smattering of features, shorts, documentaries, animated films, and more. ACEFEST co-founders Tom O'Malley, Luke Szczygielski, and Don Lavis are college pals and cinephiles who realized that their film professors were ignoring contemporary American crème de la crème; ACEFEST corrects this imbalance with a multi-day dose of prized domestic oeuvres. Celebrate the festival's kick-off with entry to the opening-night after-party, where you can mingle with industry up-and-comers and NYC filmgoer fixtures.
The Flea Theater exalts off-off-Broadway experimentation by producing original and new works from emerging and established playwrights while hosting series, festivals and programs for artists throughout the year. Over the past 15 years, eyes have widened at works by established playwright and screenwriter Adam Rapp and edgy performances from Marisa Tomei, while others have tracked the skyrocketing success of choreographer Sarah East Johnson and other toddling innovators. A 40-seat black box and a 74-seat flexible theater house up to four events and one séance daily on The Flea's packed schedule, which adds to visiting performances with a rotating constellation of rising stars from resident company The Bats, Hollywood and Broadway legends like Sigourney Weaver, Bebe Neuwirth, and Andre DeShields, as well as music and dance powerhouses like Kathleen Supove and Nina Winthrop. This season, The NY Goofs conduct a workshop and perform the eight-stooge riot Water For Clowns (August 4–14) in August, a remount of the Obie Award–winning political comedy Invasion! lands in September and stays until the audience surrenders, and in November, She Kills Monsters arrives, directed by the co-artistic directors of Brooklyn's Vampire Cowboys Theater Company.
If your name were Aristotle, it would be hard not to be profound. Aristotle "Telly" Savalas––the actor who exuded '70s masculinity as TV cop Kojak––proves not to be an exception. The smirking, self-aware alpha male swaggers on stage to piano accompaniment in Who Loves You, Baby?, a retro lounge comedy show where Tom DiMenna embodies Telly's persona––complete with a bald cap, a holster, and a butterfly-collared shirt tucked into a leisure suit.
Based in the West Village, Film Forum is an autonomous non-profit cinema house that has the wonderful distinction of being open for more than four decades. The theater’s three screens run a variety of American independent features and foreign art films every day of the year, and curates in-house film festivals, documentary showings and retrospectives as well. These special events often bring writers, directors, filmmakers and authors to the stage for lectures and Q & A sessions, which can render the fewer than 200-seat spaces a bit cramped at times. But for the cinematically passionate, Film Forum remains a mecca of quality film screenings and rare archival showings, all run by a core group of buffs and hobbyists who truly enjoy the work they do.