Everything you need to know about the
2023 Open House New York Weekend
taking place October 20-22, 2023
OHNY Weekend provides broad, public access to hundreds of noteworthy places that define our city’s past, present, and future. The 2023 OHNY Weekend will offer a mix of in-person experiences, self-guided explorations, and digital content for three days of education, exploration, and engagement.
Read on for everything you need to know about getting involved—and making the most of your partnership with OHNY and the visitor experience during OHNY Weekend.
And please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is OHNY Weekend?
A. Open House New York Weekend is an annual festival that opens hundreds of noteworthy or significant places across the five boroughs for three days of in-person and virtual tours, talks, and special activities. OHNY Weekend is a free celebration of “the power of place,” fostering discovery and delight for all New Yorkers and deepening the public’s understanding of how design can strengthen communities and improve quality of life.
Q. What is an OHNY Weekend Passport?
A. OHNY Weekend Passports are front-of-the-line passes to all Open Access Weekend locations. Weekend Passports will go on sale for $250 in the coming weeks and are included in Weekend Sponsorship packages.
Q. What distinguishes OHNY Weekend?
A. Since its founding in the wake of 9/11, when much of the city was closed off due to increased security, the Weekend has provided access to thousands of places with architectural and cultural significance. It also provides an inside look at the city’s infrastructure and systems, both natural and constructed, to spotlight how nearly 9 million people live, work, and move across the five boroughs and beyond. OHNY’s recently expanded mission incorporates an investigation of racial, ethnic, community, civic, economic, and environmental issues that define quality of place and quality of life in New York. By offering an insider’s look at the forces that shape the city, OHNY Weekend promotes a deeper understanding of how the city functions and whom it serves, and demonstrates the power of place to improve the lives of all New Yorkers.
Q. What is a Weekend partner?
A. Weekend Partners are individuals and organizations that provide broad public access to places, free of charge, during OHNY Weekend. Partners include public, private, cultural, and civic sectors, spanning a variety of industries, disciplines, audiences. What unites them is a love for the city and a commitment to foster connection and experience with a special or noteworthy place.
Prior OHNY partners have included:
- People who are architects, artists, community organizers, activists, urban planners, designers, developers, engineers, manufacturers, preservationists, public servants, and passionate New Yorkers.
- Places like public institutions (city agencies, libraries, schools); cultural institutions (museums, historic houses and societies, galleries, theaters, and performance spaces,); sacred spaces (churches, temples, religious centers); green spaces (parks, greenways, open spaces); work spaces (design studios, factories, laboratories, offices); homes and residential properties; nonprofits and community-based organizations; and retail spaces and storefronts (e.g., marketplaces, recreational facilities).
Q. What does it mean to partner on OHNY Weekend?
A. As a Partner, you will be sharing your site with a broad audience of New Yorkers and visitors united by a curiosity and love for the city. Partners organize a range of experiences during the Weekend, including leading in-person or virtual group tours, storytelling sessions, or talks, creating self-guided tours, or producing various formats of online content, either live or on-demand. By creating experiences, Partners are the key to the openness, access, and exploration that makes the Weekend so special!
There are many ways to participate in the festival, including:
- Open a space to the public: Invite people in to explore and experience a space or special place in the city. If the place is typically open to the public, consider opening it at a different time of day. OHNY recommends that you have a staff member or expert available to answer questions from visitors about the space, and/or provide a handout about its history, design, or significance for visitors to read on their own.
- Offer facilitated tours by a staff member or expert: This could be a studio tour, a production facility, part of the city’s infrastructure, public space, commercial or residential building, or important sites in a business district or other area—whether longstanding or currently in construction. If the space is normally open to the public or already has public tours, develop a behind-the-scenes peek for the Weekend.
- Develop a self-guided tour: Create written, audio, or visual content for audiences to explore and learn at their own pace. Content can include written directions and information, a map with specific areas or spots highlighted, or an audio walkthrough or podcast.
- Host a panel, discussion, or Q&A session: Convene leaders, designers, historians, experts, curators, and/or users for a discussion about specific features or aspects of the place for broad public audiences. Open up the session for audience Q&A.
- Produce a podcast: Make a recording of a story or narrative about a particular place or institution, which can either be used to supplement in-person visits, or to bring the Weekend home to anyone unable to see these NYC treasures.
- Produce a performance: Offer limited runs of performances for OHNY visitors. Or provide access to pre-recorded performances online.
- Create a virtual tour: Whether pre-recorded or live, virtual content offers much greater access to the public, especially for participants outside of New York or those with mobility challenges. Virtual experiences may include talks, films, digital exhibitions, interactive 3D tours, and beyond.
- Host an exhibition: Open up an ongoing or site-specific exhibition during OHNY Weekend. If admission is typically charged, waive fees for Weekend participants and/or offer behind-the-scenes tour or talk with an expert involved with its creation.
- Screen a film: Share a video about your place or film a walkthrough for audiences to enjoy on-demand. Or screen it live on-site during the Weekend.
- Hold a storytelling session: Tell a story about your place or a person of central importance to it and New York City’s past, present, or future. If it’s a live storytelling session happening on-site or available online, consider recording it for broader access.
- Create an experience aimed at kids and their families: OHNY welcomes all types of activities for children during the Weekend. These will be identified as Family-Friendly experiences in OHNY promotions.
- Create a new format – the city’s the limit!
Q. What are the basic requirements for partnering on OHNY Weekend?
A. We ask each Partner to:
- Be authorized to provide access to the public, virtually and/or in-person, during OHNY Weekend (October 20-22, 2023);
- Have a knowledgeable, responsible person (onsite or online) to engage with the public during the event;
- Offer your Weekend experience free of charge;
- Comply with public health and safety protocols/guidelines;
- Collaborate with OHNY on planning and logistics by providing the required information in a timely fashion, attending a Partner Orientation Session, and providing staff or utilizing OHNY Volunteers to greet and interface with the public during OHNY Weekend.
- Promote your participation through your marketing and communication channels, (e.g. highlight the Weekend on your website, calendar listings, newsletters, and social media, etc.);
- Display OHNY Weekend signage on-site during the event;
- Communicate with your building management (where relevant) to inform them of your participation;
- Sign an insurance waiver holding OHNY harmless from any incident that may occur onsite during the Weekend.
Q. Why become a Partner for OHNY Weekend?
A. Partnering in the Weekend is a wonderful opportunity to reach new audiences, educate the public about your organization or a special place in the city, connect with a broad community of Partner organizations, be a good civic neighbor, and remind the world that openness and access are defining characteristics of New York City. All partners are identified and promoted as part of OHNY Weekend, directing tens of thousands of visitors to your organization or a place in the city that deserves to be better known. During the month preceding the 2021 Weekend, OHNY.org received 1.6 million page views!
- Elevate your work to a citywide audience of civic-minded New Yorkers.
OHNY provides a broad citywide platform to educate the public about your organization’s work and expand your audiences. As a Partner, you will receive a unique listing on our website directing visitors to your organization, be promoted in our social media and mailing list reaching hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, and have the opportunity to host hundreds of visitors.
- Gain experience with public engagement and programming.
With 20 years of experience organizing OHNY Weekend festivals across the city, attracting audiences by the thousands every year, OHNY Weekend can bolster your public engagement and programming. Past Partners have used the Weekend as an opportunity to pilot or perfect public activations such as public tours, open houses, performances, and more.
- Be part of a citywide celebration of New York’s people and places.
You will join a network of hundreds of other organizations bringing New Yorkers together to celebrate the power of place. By partnering on OHNY Weekend, you also have the opportunity to expand your professional network and connect with other Partners.
- Bring economic activity to your organization or community.
By opening up hundreds of places across the five boroughs, the Weekend is a proven driver for bringing people to your neighborhood and encouraging local spending.
Q. Why is there a fee for Partners to participate?
A. To make the Weekend 100% free to the public, Weekend partners are requested to pay a registration fee to defray some of the cost of operating the Weekend, including recruiting and training more than 1,000 volunteers.
The fee schedule is as follows:
$250 For-Profit Organization
$75 Non-Profit Organization or Government Agency (suggested donation)
We are deeply appreciative of all our Partners and the time and effort you take to open your doors for public access during OHNY Weekend. Over 20 years of OHNY Weekends, our partners have expressed that they find the Weekend to be a valuable promotional and outreach opportunity and see a significant personal, experiential, and professional return on investment from participating.
Q. How is the Weekend promoted, and how are individual experiences publicized?
A. Nearly 100,000 New Yorkers and visitors participate in the Weekend each year. OHNY organizes an extensive press and marketing campaign to promote OHNY Weekend, including media partnerships, social media promotions, and weekly updates to 150,000 subscribers. All experiences, whether virtual or in-person, are featured on a dedicated page of OHNY.org with links to each Partner’s website and are included in Series branding as appropriate.
Q. What information is required to promote your submission for the 2023 Weekend?
A. All listings in the Weekend lineup feature:
- Title/name and description of experience;
- Time and date information;
- Neighborhood and location (if in-person);
- Image to represent the experience on the website and promotional materials;
- Format type (e.g. tour, podcast, performance, talk, etc.);
- Access type (e.g. Open Access or Advance Reservations);
- Accessibility notes and other program restrictions (e.g. wheelchair accessible, closed-toe shoes required, restrooms available if in-person; closed captioning, transcript, or interpreter available if virtual);
- Brief speaker bio(s) if relevant.
Your dedicated listing will be shared with the public in early October. Virtual content will be free to access through Sunday, October 22. If the content is available on-demand, it will continue to be accessible to Open House New York members through the end of October.
Q. What is the difference between Open Access and Ticketed experiences?
A. In-person programs generally are either Open Access or Ticketed, though some locations may have both types of experiences during the Weekend.
For Open Access locations, the public is permitted to visit on a drop-in basis during set hours on one or multiple days of OHNY Weekend. Partners arrange for an expert or knowledgeable staff to welcome the public and share insights about distinguishing features, characteristics, or a particular story, whether little known or beloved by many.
Open Access locations receive more traffic and more exposure, and offer greater opportunities to share your work with the public. In the spirit of an open city – and the true meaning of “open house” – we strongly encourage you to offer Open Access to your space. OHNY will provide volunteers to assist with line management, wayfinding, and keeping visitors to designated areas of the site. Our staff is happy to discuss how we can best support your program.
A ticket system is used for Weekend programs that have significant security or capacity constraints that make first-come, first-serve entry infeasible. In general, if you can accommodate more than 25 people at one time or will offer four or more sessions of the same program on the same day, your location should be Open Access. OHNY staff will consider the structure of your program and discuss with you whether it can be ticketed.
Your program should only be ticketed if:
- There are security restrictions limiting who may access your space
- Only a small number of people can be accommodated in the space at once and first-come, first-serve entry is not feasible given the hours you will can be open and level of anticipated demand
- Your program is a guided tour that will only be offered a limited number of times
All tickets are free of charge and will be distributed to the public by lottery in advance of the Weekend.
Q. What happens if there’s inclement weather?
A. OHNY Weekend takes place rain or shine.
Q. What are the COVID-19 guidelines for in-person experiences?
A. OHNY is committed to the health and safety of our Partners, Volunteers, and Weekend participants. We will require that all Partners follow state and city COVID prevention guidelines that are in place at the time of the Weekend. Partners should inform us of any additional precautions, e.g., proof of vaccination, negative test, or mask requirements, required by the organization or location so that our Volunteers and the public can be made aware of them and plan accordingly.
Q. What should I do if I have to cancel or modify my program?
A. We understand that public health and staffing circumstances change rapidly and there may be unexpected changes to your plans for the Weekend. We ask you to please keep us informed of any changes, and we will work with you to find a solution for your program.
Q. May I charge admission to my tour, film, talk, etc.?
A. No. In order to be part of OHNY Weekend, you must provide access free of charge.
Q. If in-person, how many visitors should I plan to welcome?
A. The most important factor determining the number of visitors is whether your location is Open Access or Ticketed. Open Access locations are open to the general public during a set block of hours during the Weekend. We strongly encourage you to offer Open Access to your location to maximize the audience you reach. Some Open Access locations may receive between 50-100 visitors while others have 1,000+ visitors. We have found that factors like access to public transportation, novelty of the experience, and proximity to other locations in the Weekend lineup all increase the number of visitors. If you know of organizations or other potential Partners in your community who could be a good fit for OHNY Weekend but have not participated before, please encourage them to submit a proposal to our Open Call and help us build a cluster of experiences nearby!
Q. What about liability and insurance issues?
A. For nearly two decades, Partners have welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors during the Weekend. To protect against any theft, damage, or loss to personal or real property that may occur during OHNY Weekend, Partners (owners, tenants, lessees, tour/workshop operator or organization) are responsible for carrying adequate insurance and are required to sign a mandatory waiver releasing Open House New York from all such liability. We strongly recommend that visitors also sign waivers for any experience requiring safety precautions such as a helmet, hardhat, life jacket, etc.. OHNY staff will review your organization’s waiver form, and, if necessary provide an additional form to ensure the safety of visitors and Partners.
Q. Can I request OHNY volunteers to help at my site or tour?
A. Yes! OHNY recruits more than 1,000 volunteers—typically members of the public who are New York City enthusiasts—to provide on-site assistance during OHNY Weekend. Volunteers are assigned to Partners in four-hour shifts: from 10:00am-2:00pm; 12:00-4:00pm, or from 2:00-6:00pm. OHNY will assign volunteers to each in-person location to greet visitors and gather attendance data via QR code check-in. We will share this data with you after the Weekend. If you are unsure of how many additional volunteers your site might need for line management, wayfinding, or other assistance, OHNY staff will happily advise you and make every effort to fulfill volunteer requests.
Q. What types of assistance do Volunteers provide?
A. OHNY Weekend volunteers are trained to welcome visitors and assist with check-in and site waivers, wayfinding, and guest counts. They can also distribute printed materials, congregate visitors in advance of a tour in designated areas and help manage lines. OHNY Volunteers cannot, however, replace your staff. Nor can Volunteers serve as security guards.
Q. How can I improve the accessibility of my Weekend experience?
A. The aspiration of an open city is what animates the work of Open House New York-—a city where people and ideas thrive and where each of us has the freedom to pursue the life we choose to live, while collectively sharing the places and spaces that give those lives depth and meaning. This means all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, gender, abilities, or lived experience, and we encourage Partners to consider increasing the accessibility of their experiences to the extent possible:
- Record or livestream to enable broader audiences to access your program
- Identify any physical accessibility issues so visitors can plan accordingly (e.g. ADA compliance, gender-neutral bathrooms, elevator and ramp access). OHNY will ask Partners with in-person experiences to provide this information as part of their registration.
In-person / Virtual
- Have content translated or a translator available on-site
- Provide ASL or sign language interpreters
- Have speakers and tour guides provide preferred gender pronouns on Zoom names or name badges
- Add alt-text to images displayed on your social media and website
- Provide closed captioning. See below for a list of captioning resources.
- If presenting a live program, consider recording it as well so that a closed-caption tool can be used.
Free/Do It Yourself Captions
- Free tools are available for manually captioning prerecorded videos including Amara, DotSub, and Subtitle Horse.
- YouTube Caption Editor: YouTube can automatically generate captions to videos using speech recognition technology. While not fully accurate, these captions can be easily corrected in YouTube using their caption editor. Check out the YouTube Help Center for information on adding and editing subtitles.
- Live captioning is supported in Zoom meetings and webinars. Captions can be typed directly into Zoom or added with a third party software/service integration. Visit the Zoom Help Center for more.
- Automatic speech recognition (ASR) is available for cloud recorded Zoom meetings and webinars. Zoom ASR is not a replacement for captioning and requires editing for accuracy, but ASR can help save a significant amount of time. For more information, see Using Audio Transcription for Cloud Recordings in the Zoom Help Center.
Q. How do I create a great virtual program?
A. We have found the following to be best practices and tips to consider when producing a virtual program:
Make it Digestible
Less is more when it comes to screen time. If you will be hosting a virtual tour or experience, consider making your content digestible. Based on audience feedback, 15-minutes or less is ideal for on-site tours and 45-minutes or less are preferred for virtual programs.
Provide a variety of things for the audience to see and hear. If recording a tour, zoom-in on ornamentation and small details, provide wide shots of the space for context, and include moments of pause for the audience to enjoy the view. If presenting a program, consider including photos, drawings, and archival material.
Outline your talking points and visual shots in advance, and think about the story you want to tell through your program. Test your equipment beforehand and make sure the scene is well-lit and the recording is audible. Become familiar with the features of the platform you will be using. Zoom, Instagram Live, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live have been used to present virtual Weekend experiences in the past, and all have online tutorials available.
Boost Your Tools
Interested in recording a tour but don’t have access to video specialists or professional equipment? We welcome professionally recorded tours by video specialists as well as low-cost productions made with little or no prior recording experience. A gimbal or stabilizer for your smartphone can make a dramatic improvement in video quality, and a variety of models are available for less than $100. Using a headset with a microphone – even the headphones that came with your phone – will provide better audio quality than using your phone alone.