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Free Art in NYC

Below is a list of art experiences in New York City that are both free and within train distance from Packer!


At our school, I have found that the student body rarely takes advantage of the many opportunities to see artwork that we have in this city. My hope is that this list reminds students that good art does not have to be expensive, far away, or require a full day. We need to realize how lucky we are to live in a hub of artistic expression and learn to derive inspiration for our own creations from this diverse group of artists.

Socrates Sculpture Park

Socrates Sculpture Park New York
Photo by Paula Rryszkiewicz

Price: ALWAYS FREE

Travel Time from Packer: 58 min. on train

Address: 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, Queens, NY 11106

Description: This sculpture park has a priceless view of the New York City highline and unique installations created by artists from all around the world. The park is open year round, though, because it is outside and by the water, it is far more enjoyable to go when the weather is warm. The park is a wonderful place to take pictures, roam around, and explore art in a new and exciting way.  

Although I have not been able to get to this park yet, it really looks incredible. The creators have truly made the most of their urban surroundings and have even put a piece of work floating in the water. One of my favorite aspects of the park is that they feature old parts New York City architecture such as an entrance to the subway and the classic Apollo Theatre sign.

Dates: Open year-round from 9 AM to sundown.

9/11 Museum

9/11 Memorial Museum
Photo by Jin Lee

Price: FREE on Tuesdays from 5 pm to close

Travel Time from Packer: 12 min. on train

Address: 92 Greenwich St.

Description: Although this important museum is relatively new, it is one of New York’s most popular attractions. However, not many people are aware that on Tuesdays, the museum opens to the public for free! In order to get in for these free hours, you do have to book your visit in advance due to the museum’s policy. This museum contains pieces surrounding the attacks which took place on September 11, 2001. 9/11 was a crucial moment in New York City’s history and this museum does it justice.

I am aware that the theme of this museum hits close to home for many people in the Packer community. I want to acknowledge that this museum is not for everybody and that is completely fine. It’s contents are deeply unsettling so I do advise that everyone do some research on what’s inside the museum before making the trip.

Michael Brown Themed Work

In response to the 2014 shooting death of
Photo by Gregg Richards


Price: FREE (rsvp required)

Travel Time from Packer: 48 min. on train

Address:  Harlem Stage Gate House, 150 Convent Ave.

Description: Hosted by Harlem Stage, this outside theatre experience focuses on excerpts from a play written by black activists in the wake of the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown. This play dives into the evolution of police brutality in our country and is without a doubt as relevant today as it was back in 2014. This heart-wrenching play has moved audiences since its inception and it is an amazing opportunity to get to see it free of charge!

Date(s): Sept 13-October 13

Whitney Museum

Photo by Nic Lehoux

Price: FREE on Fridays 7-10 pm.

Travel Time from Packer: 30 min. on train

Address: 99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014

Description: Although this is a classic NYC museum, few people know that on Fridays between 7 and 10 pm, you can “Pay-What-You-Wish” and enter the museum to see the exhibitions. Currently, the museum features works of all different mediums, shapes, and sizes. In November of this year, the museum will also house a series of works by Andy Warhol. 


Although I have featured a lot of art created by younger artists, it is just as important to go out and see classic art! While not as new, it’s interesting to find parallels between these older pieces and modern art.

OnCanal

DiMoDA On Canal. Courtesy of Wallplay

Photo by Wallplay

Price: FREE

Travel Time from Packer: 17 min. on train

Address: This museum has exhibits featured in storefronts expanding from 325 to 351 Canal St.

Description: This unknown stretch of urban museums features predominantly interactive visual artwork from younger artists. OnCanal has light exhibitions, virtual reality experiences, and with ever-changing exhibitions and no fee, one could easily keep going back to these magical storefronts.

Dates: Open year-round with certain exceptions due to exhibit changes. (Check the website for information before you go)

BRIC

Photo by Jason Wyche

Price: FREE

Travel Time from Packer: 11 min on train

Address: 647 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11217

Description: BRIC Museum, located in downtown Brooklyn, is a great place to casually explore art for an afternoon, grab a coffee or work. The museum offers both a main exhibition upon first entry and more exhibitions in the back for those looking to see more art. Additionally, there is a pop-up coffee, free wifi, shop and many places to sit and work on your laptop. While it is easy to spend only a quick hour at BRICK, it is just as easy to spend many.

I myself spent most of my time studying for my finals last year at BRIC. It has a very studious feeling to it and I enjoy being surrounded by captivating artwork while I work. 

Dates and times:

GALLERY HOURS:

Mon: Closed

Tues-Sat: 10am-6pm

Sun: 12-6pm

CAFE HOURS:

Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm

Sat: 10am-4pm

Sun: CLOSED

The Frick Collection

The Garden Court, part of John Russell Pope's conversion of the Henry Clay Frick House into a museum. (Courtesy PRObrownpau/Flickr)
Photo by PRObrownpau

Price: Free on First Fridays and Wednesdays

Travel Time from Packer: 34 min on train

Address:1 E 70th St, New York, NY 10021

Description: Housed in a historical mansion on the Upper East Side, this museum displays the private collection of art enthusiast, Henry Clay Frick. The house contains works from notable artists such as Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, and Francisco Goya. Due to the generous endowment of 15 million dollars made by Frick before his death, the grounds are in amazing condition and the architecture of the mansion is worth the visit alone. This is another staple museum with hidden FREE hours!

This museum can also be used as a resource for Packer classes. 10th graders: this building is a part of American architectural history! And to anyone studying the history of this city, or classic artwork, this is a great (and beautiful) place to do research.

Dates: FREE on First Fridays of every month (excluding September and January) as well as Wednesdays between 2 and 6 pm.

Lily Crowell is currently a sophomore at The Packer Collegiate Institute and reporter for The Prism this year. She joined journalism to raise awareness about current events that are not as commonly discussed in the school community and to spark healthy conversation surrounding these topics and issues. In her spare time, Lily is a ballet dancer, choreographer, and poet. Lily also has a deep love for Rupaul’s Drag Race and wishes to talk to any and everybody about their favorite queens or seasons of the show. Lily can be reached at licrowell@packer.edu.

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