Cherry Blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The cherry blossoms are in bloom at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden! As you might recall from our previous post about the BBG, entry is free on Tuesdays and Saturdays before noon. Sadly, the garden closes at 6 PM on weeknights, making an evening trip difficult — but it opens at 8 AM, so a morning sojourn (assuming you live nearby, as I do) is not impossible. Nor is it crowded.


I arrived at about 8:05, and was among the first visitors, but not the first. The sky was threatening rain, which may have dampened (get it?) interest, but about a half-dozen people were already scoping out photo-ops on the Cherry Esplanade. Thankfully, the rain held off until I’d continued on my commute.


It wasn’t just the cherry blossoms; other flowers were blooming all over the garden, like these tulips.


This weekend is the Sakura Matsuri! That means no free Saturday entry, but lots of activities beyond the usual. Since the cherry blossom festival is scheduled far in advance, it’s pure luck when it happens to coincide with peak blossom — as it will this year.


Location: 990 Washington Avenue (stretches east-west from Flatbush Avenue to Washington Avenue and north-south from Eastern Parkway to Empire Boulevard).
Nearest Subway: Eastern Parkway entrance: 2/3 at Grand Army Plaza or Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum, or B/Q at 7 Avenue; Washington Avenue entrance: 2/3 at Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum or Franklin Avenue, or S at Botanic Garden; Flatbush Avenue entrance: B/Q at Prospect Park.
Estimated Timespan: 2-3 hours
Cost: $12 Adults; $6 Seniors and Students; free Saturday before noon and Tuesday all day.



Brooklyn Museum

I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t entirely know what the Brooklyn Museum was until I visited. (Yes, yes, I knew it was a museum.) Brooklyn history? Modern art? Who knew?

So here’s your answer: it’s an art museum in the vein of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with a sizeable collection of antiquities — meaning it’s as much about history and culture as it is about art per se. (My favorite kind of art museum!) It also feels cozier than the Met, though it’s still enormous (according to Wikipedia, about 500,000 square feet to the Met’s 2 million).

In the time I spent there, I didn’t come close to being able to take in everything the museum has on display (and I skipped the current special exhibition, on Georgia O’Keeffe). I enjoyed, far more than I was expecting, the exhibit on the first floor called “Infinite Blue,” which was — you guessed it — a collection of (partly) blue things.

The Egyptian galleries of the museum had a small special exhibit called “A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt,” as well as a wide-ranging permanent selection of artifacts — including several mummies and displays about the process of mummification, which was both fascinating and uncomfortable. The exhibit tried to acknowledge the problems inherent to displaying human remains, but the fact remaining that it was displaying human remains.

One of my favorite things about the museum wasn’t an exhibit at all, but an app! Ask Brooklyn Museum allows you to open a live chat with museum experts and ask them your questions. (Only while you’re on the museum grounds.) I used it several times, though I was frustrated that the functionality to upload a photograph wasn’t working.


I wanted to identify this writing system, but wasn’t able to share the photo through the app. (Answer, if anyone was wondering: Cuneiform.) Hopefully, just a temporary blip.

Other good thing to know: like the Met, the Brooklyn Museum’s stated admission price is “suggested”: you don’t have to pay the full amount to enter. (Ticketed exhibits are the exception.) And, entry is free the first Saturday of every month, from 5 PM to 11 PM.

This was my first visit to the Brooklyn Museum, but it certainly won’t be my last — or my last post about going there!


Location: 200 Eastern Parkway, corner of Eastern Parkway and Washington Avenue
Nearest Public Transit: 2/3 at Eastern Parkway–Brooklyn Museum; 2/3/4/5 and S at Franklin Av; 2/3 at Grand Army Plaza; B/Q and S at Prospect Park.
Cost: Suggested Admission $16 adults; $10 students and seniors; ages 19 and under free. Free 5 PM – 11 PM first Saturday of every month.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden in Late Summer

Ellen: This will be, for me, possibly the most embarrassing “How Have I Never Been Here Before?” entry on this blog. My commute takes me past an entrance to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden every day, and eighteen months after moving to this neighborhood, I’d never stepped inside until this weekend.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden stretches across 52 acres. While we made a dent in its exhibits, we didn’t come close to seeing them all. As one might expect in a place whose main attraction is plants, must-see sights vary by season, too: the Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival brings in big crowds in April, and there’s winter-specific programming during the cold months.

Casey: A caveat: when we made this trek, it was 94 degrees outside, with a heat index of 109.  So keep that in mind when considering time estimates and overall enthusiasm, because it definitely waned after about an hour’s worth of melting.  However, unlike Ellen, I have visited BBG before, and the previous trip clocked in the four hour range.

Traversing the grounds is really more of a meandering situation; there’s a lot to see, but a lot of the paths loop and criss-cross, and in the spaces where you’re allowed to walk on the grass, it lends to a lot of doubling back on oneself.  (In other words, you will definitely get your step count in.)

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