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M.I.C.E. Venues

 August 16, 2005
New York City Offers Meeting Planners A Variety Of Unique Venues

 New York City is the premier meetings destination. As plans for the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center expansion move forward, planners now have the ultimate facilities package complete with a variety of unique venues that are ideal for hosting special events. From private viewings at the Museum of Modern Art, fireworks on Ellis Island, to receptions at the Bronx Zoo or Astroland Amusement Park in Coney Island, the Big Apple boasts plenty of spectacular spaces perfect for creating affairs to remember.

Museums By Day, Party Space By Night

As the Cultural Capital of the World, New York City is home to magnificent museums that offer something for everyone, from art and architecture to heroes and history. Around town, many of these top visitor attractions double as venues for meetings, product launches, corporate parties, receptions, and more, providing planners with creative and colorful settings for group events.

Art enthusiasts have several outstanding options city wide. On Staten Island, the Alice Austen House Museum (2 Hylan Blvd., 718/816-4506, ext. 12, www.aliceausten.org) showcases the work of a local photography pioneer and offers panoramic views of Manhattan and the Verazzano Bridge. The facility accommodates meetings of up to 40 people indoors, and 175 for receptions outdoors. At the American Folk Art Museum (45 W. 53rd St., 212/977-7170, ext. 308, www.folkartmuseum.org), guests can enjoy traditional and contemporary folk art such as colorful quilts and murals. Here, a two-story atrium and mezzanine fits 250 for cocktail receptions and 100 for sit-down dinners.

The Bronx Museum of the Arts (1040 Grand Concourse, 718/ 681-6000, www.bronxmuseum.org) provides a modern setting with a permanent collection focusing on twentieth and twenty-first-century artists of African, Asian, and Latin American descent. Meeting planners can choose from a number of sites at the Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway, 718/638-5000, www.brooklynmuseum.org) including the Grand Lobby, the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium, Beaux Arts Court, and the Frieda Schiff Warburg Memorial Sculpture Garden for parties ranging from 100 to 1000.

In Midtown Manhattan, the Museum of Arts & Design (40 W. 53rd St., 212/956-3535, www.americancraftmuseum.org) caters to corporate and personal entertaining with a dramatic and expansive atmosphere, accommodating 50-350 guests for receptions, up to 160 for seated luncheons and dinners, 150 for a seated dinner with dance floor, 600 for a cocktail reception, 200 for a buffet -style lunch or dinner, and 200 in a theater-style environment. Nearby the newly reopened Museum of Modern Art (11 W. 53 rd St., 212/708/9858, www.moma.org) provides its corporate membership a stunning facility with contemporary masterpieces from influential artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Magritte and Matisse.

The National Academy Museum (1083 Fifth Ave., 212/369-4880, www.nationalacademy.org), housed in a turn-of-the century Beaux Arts mansion, can host up to 60 for cocktails in its spiral staircase, up to 74 in the Stone Room, and 110-150 in its charming Huntington Room. The dramatic interiors of the Guggenheim Museum (1071 5 th Ave., 212/473-3760, www.guggenheim.org) include the museum rotunda with a capacity of 1000 for reception and up to 300 for dinner, the Peter B. Lewis Theater, and the museum café. In Queens, the Museum of the Moving Image (35 Avenue at 36 St., Astoria, 718/784/4520, www.movingimage.us) and the Queens Museum of Art (New York City Building, Flushing Meadow Corona Park, 718/592-9200, www.queensmuseum.org) provide two stylish spaces for memorable events.

For creative cultural immersion, consider the Asia Society & Museum (725 Park Ave. at 70th St., 212/288-6400, www.asiasociety.org), El Museo del Barrio (1230 Fifth Ave., 212/831-7272, www.elmuseo.org), which rents out the landmark Teatro Hecksher; the Scandinavia House (58 Park Ave., 212/879-9779, www.scandinaviahouse.org) or the Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Ave., 212/534-1672, ext. 3309, www. mcny.org), a landmark Georgian mansion with a 500-guest capacity for cocktail receptions, 250 for seated dinner with dancing, and 248 in its auditorium. The National Sports Museum, (25 Broadway, 212/837-7950, www.thesportsmuseum.com) slated to open in late 2006, will be the new permanent home of the Heisman trophy and offers two dedicated event spaces for up to 2,000 people.

Wow guests with the world of science. The American Museum of Natural History (79th St. at Central Park West, 212/769-5350, www.amnh.org) features more than 40 spectacular exhibition halls that showcase the natural wonders of the planet and the universe and offers use of the Milstein Hall for Ocean Life, Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda, Rose Center for Earth and Space, Akely Hall for African Animals and Halls of Saurischian and Ornithischian Dinosaurs. In Queens, the New York Hall of Science (47-01 111th St., 718/ 699-0005, www.nyscience.org) provides planners with a state-of the art multimedia auditorium, exhibition halls, dining area, Great Hall and Science Playground.

Other special interest event spots include the Children's Museum of Manhattan (212 W. 83 rd St., 212/721-1234, www.cmom.org) for kids of all ages; the intimate Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden (421 E. 61st St, 212/ 838-6878, www.ny.com/museums/abigail.adams.smith.museum.html) one of the seven oldest buildings in New York City; the majestic Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (W. 46th St at 12th Ave., 212/245-0072 , www.intrepidmuseum.org), and the New York City Fire Museum (278 Spring St., 212/ 691-13030, www.nycfiremuseum.org) featuring 3,300 square feet of event space.

Famous Places and Spaces

Top New York City attractions add pizzazz to corporate entertaining; and guests get to see the sights in an entirely different way. Plan a fun group outing to Coney Island, with plenty to see and do at Astroland Amusement Park (1000 Surf Ave., 718/372-0275, www.astroland.com) and the New York Aquarium (Surf Ave., at W. 8th St., Brooklyn/718-265-FISH, www.nyaquarium.org). For an entirely different experience, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (1000 Washington Ave., 718/623-7200, www.bbg.org) has the scenic Palm House, situated in a unique Victorian setting, ideal for more formal engagements. In Prospect Heights, the historic Grand Prospect Hall (263 Prospect Ave., 718/788-0777, www.grandprospect.com) offers a wide range of venues and 140,000-square feet, an outdoor plaza, gardens, waterfalls and fountains for all types of events including annual meetings, conferences, product launches, luncheons, dinners, and cocktail parties.

Animal lovers will enjoy attending events at the Bronx Zoo (2300 Southern Blvd., 718/220-5076, www.bronxzoo.com). The Conga Gorilla Forest is available for up to 500 guests, from May through October, 6pm to sunset; while the Gorilla Gallery is available for cocktails for 250 guests, from November-April, with gorillas and the Treasures Gallery open from 5:00pm to 7:30pm. The Dancing Crane Café, can accommodate 175 guests for formal sit down dinners, or 200 for an informal affair. An executive dining room at the Dancing Crane Café is ideal for meetings or presentations. The Zoo Center, home to the Malaysian Tapir caters to cocktails for 200 or dinner for 120, and is available mid-January through mid-October after 6pm. Other space options within the zoo include the Monkey House, Reptile House, Jungle World, and Reptile Mountain.

Chelsea Piers (23rd St. at the Hudson River, www.chelseapiers.com) caters to more than 30 different sports, and is perfect for teambuilding. Also on site, Pier Sixty is the city's largest venue with water views with features including meeting facilities, ballrooms and catering by Abigail Kirsch for groups of 200 to 2000; while The Lighthouse provides a more intimate setting for groups of 100 to 800.

Have an adventurous audience? Then plan a fun group outing at Lazer Park (163 W. 46th St., 212/398-3060 , www.lazerpark.com), the largest state-of-the-art arena in New York City and the largest video arcade in Manhattan. A full-service bar and snack bar are available. Bring out the kid in everyone with a event at the new Build-A-Bear Workshop (565 Fifth Ave., 212-871-7080, www.buildabear.com) located in midtown Manhattan along the famed Fifth Avenue shopping corridor. This 22,000-square-foot flagship store features a dining area and three event spaces.

Special events reach a new high this fall when Top of the Rock, the Observatory deck at Rockefeller Center opens to the public for the first time in 20 years. Located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, this 55,000-square foot facility offers 360-degree views of New York City and features space for private functions. Also in Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall (1260 6th Ave., 212/ 247-4777, www.radiocity.com), operates as a full-service facility with the Great Stage, Grand Foyer, Grand Lounge, and Roxy Suite available for cocktail receptions, press conferences, product launches, and more.

Hobnobbing with movers and shakers is a highlight at Madame Tussauds New York (234 W. 42nd St., 212/512-9611, www.nycwax.com). Flexible function space includes the Taper Room, which fits 300 for receptions, 280 for full-seating, and 220 seated with dancing; and the 42nd Street Gallery Room that holds 80 for receptions and 40 for full seating. A cast of characters including Jennifer Lopez, Derek Jeter, Al Roker and others keep guests company.

Encourage multicultural mingling at the United Nations Delegate Dining Room (UN Building, Room 414, 212/963-7099, www.aramark-un.com), offering panoramic views of the East River and the New York City skyline. The space, bordered by the colorful flags of the UN's 191 member states, holds up to 750 dinner guest and 800 for receptions. A number of private dining rooms with space for 20-200 are also available, and can be combined with the UN Delegate Dining Room for events up to 1000 people. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum on Ellis Island (212/344-0996, www.ellisisland.com), the gateway for more than 12 million immigrants through the years, provides another world-class venue for large parties.

A festive party at Wollman Skating Rink (Entrance 59th St at Sixth Ave., 212/439-6900, www.wollmanskatingrink.com) promotes corporate camaraderie. Facilities accommodate up to 3,000 guests in 50,000 square-feet of space, including the 33,000 square-foot ice surface, an 8,000 square-foot indoor skate house, and an outdoor rink-side heated tents.

The Staten Island Botanical Garden (1000 Richmond Terrace, Snug Harbor Rd., 718/273-8200, www. sibg.org) features the New York Chinese Scholar's Garden which can accommodate up to 224. Smaller groups of up to 150 can also fit in the White Garden and the Carl Grillo Glass House.

Behind the Velvet Rope: Nightclubs & Lounges

New York City is nightlife central, and planners can show their groups the VIP treatment by hosting an event at one of these popular hot spots. Downtown continues to be a lively destination. Throw a celebration at the Bubble Lounge (228 W. Broadway, 212/431-3433, www.bubblelounge.com) in Tribeca. On the Bowery, Manahatta (316 Bowery, 212/253-8644, www.manahatta.com) provides a chic and comfortable location for all types of gatherings. In Union Square, 13 (35 E. 13th St., 2nd Fl., 212/ 979-6677, www.bar13.com) bills itself as part club, part lounge, part oasis, with three floors and a summer roof deck, the venue is available for parties of all sizes and occasions. Also in the neighborhood, Pressure (110 University Place, 5th Floor, 212/255-8188, www.pressurenyc.com) provides several spaces for group events including the Living Room, a spacious party lounge for up to 150 guests; Lucid, a 3,500-square-foot soundproof club that fits up to 150; a Screening Room with theater seating and billiards room. Nearby, Webster Hall (125 E. 11th St., 212/353-1600, a 40,000-square foot landmark site can host parties for 100 to 2500 people, and offers six separate lounges and a menu of services that include bartenders, security, deejays, and lighting.

In Chelsea, the Crobar (530 W. 28th St., 212/629-9000, www.crobar.com) provides striking design, superb service, and multi-media design, ensuring the ultimate corporate entertainment experience. In Midtown, Branch (226 E. 54th St., 212/505-7400, www.branchny.com) boasts 5,000 square-feet of sleek and stylish space with seating for 200 guests. State-of-the art sound and lighting, and on-site technical support ensure events happen without a hitch. Show Nightclub (135 W. 41st St., 212/278-0988, www.show-nightclub.com) evokes a Moulin Rouge-style ambiance in the heart of Times Square.

Looking for a legendary location? Consider the glamorous Copacabana (560 W. 34th St., 212/239-2672, www.thecopacabana.com), located near the Theater District and the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. This premier venue offers the Carmen Miranda Room for cocktail receptions and the Copa Ballroom with its 600-square foot stage for larger events; and accommodates groups of 50-4500. Relive the magic of Studio 54 (254 W. 54th St., 212/729-9393, www.roundabouttheatre.org). The former nightclub is still used for award ceremonies, benefit galas, and holiday parties. Features include an orchestra that seats 445; mezzanine which seat 455, and two large, full-service bars.

For more information on unique meeting venues in New York City go to www.nycvisit.com