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.
To cap off its 2011–12 season, J City Theater finds comic relief in the stages of grief with its production of the biting and bittersweet British romp The Memory of Water. The female-led ensemble piece surveys eccentric sisters Mary, Teresa, and Catherine as they quibble in preparation for their mother’s funeral. Quips fly at a machine-gun clip as the estranged siblings circle around childhood memories, strained romances, and the old wounds their mother's death has opened. Trying desperately to hold the trio together with her more-developed sense of responsibility, the unhappily married Teresa finds tightly wound expression in Rosalind Ashford, whose voice and acting chops have graced countless TV programs, audiobooks, and voiceovers. J City artistic director Sandy Cockrell steps into the role of middle child Mary as she struggles with memories of the son she placed for adoption at age 14.
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.