NYC’s Largest Trivia Event Returns to the Queens Museum

Big Apple brainiacs can test their knowledge of New York history and geography this week at one of the city’s largest trivia events. After a four-year hiatus, the Panorama Challenge is returning for its 13th edition at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park this Friday, April 12. Although the event is sold out, organizers are currently compiling a waitlist in the event of no-shows.

The annual event is led by Brooklyn’s City Reliquary Museum, a nonprofit institution in Williamsburg tracing the history of New York’s five boroughs through relics and archival materials, in conjunction with the Municipal Art Society (MAS), a local preservation and urban planning advocacy nonprofit. This Friday’s competition will take place at “The Panorama of the City of New York” — a 9,335-square-foot model of the city originally commissioned by urban planner Robert Moses 60 years ago for the 1964 World’s Fair.

Regarded as one of the most successful attractions at the fair, “The Panorama of the City of New York” drew thousands of curious viewers at its debut, charging audiences 10 cents for a nine-minute indoor ride providing a bird’s-eye view of the massive model. Built to a scale in which one inch equates to 100 feet, the city replica was initially constructed by a team of more than 100 workers contracted by West Nyack architecture firm Raymond Lester and Associates and has since been periodically updated to reflect New York’s changing landscape.

This year’s trivia challenge will be hosted by city tour guide Jonathan Turer, who has led the event as quizmaster for nine previous editions. “Awkwafina,” “SNL & Staten Island,” and “Fame” are among the topics, in addition to other New York City subjects. There will also be a special halftime quiz and a performance by 7-train enthusiast Harmony Hardcore, who was crowned Miss Subways 2023 at the City Reliquary Museum’s last annual pageant.

“It’s such a challenge to write the trivia questions,” Turer told Hyperallergic, adding that he is always astounded by participants’ knowledge of the city. “Every year, I think [the questions] will be too hard and every year there are teams who get nearly perfect scores. It’s amazing to me.”

The key to a winning team is diversity, Turer added.

“Every year there’s pop culture, history, geography, sports, theater, public transportation — so many different topics,” he said. “If you don’t have people from multiple generations and varied specializations it’s hard to place in the top three. I always tell people that’s the best way to prepare: to recruit well.”

Dutch Killers 2019
The Dutch Killers won the last in-person Panorama Challenge in 2019. (photo by Sarah Celentano, courtesy Municipal Art Society)

Doors will open at 6pm, and the trivia challenge is scheduled to begin at 7pm. From 5:30pm to 7pm and 9pm to 10pm, attendees can access free transportation via shuttle buses between the Queens Museum and the Mets-Willets Point subway station on the 7 train line. Hyperallergic has also reached out to the Queens Museum, the MAS, and the City Reliquary Museum for additional information.

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