Free This Week


by Erin O'Hara, 01/01/2013

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There's always something exciting to do and see around the five boroughs that doesn't cost a dime. See our weekly picks below, and visit our calendar and special offers section for more free events.

January 2–8

Wednesday, January 2
SciCafe – Art/Sci Collision: Raising Ocean Conservation Awareness
SciCafe is a series at the American Museum of Natural History that takes place on the first Wednesday of each month. Experts speak and lead discussions on a variety of intriguing topics; the public is welcome to come, enjoy cocktails (not free, sorry) and meet like-minded intellectuals. This month, National Geographic explorer Tierney Thys talks about the intersection of science, art and activism in relation to raising awareness for crucial ocean conservation efforts. She'll share her fascinating research on the giant sunfish and how we can improve the future of our seas and their inhabitants. Doors to the Wallach Orientation Center (at West 77th Street) open at 6:30pm; the event starts at 7. Those who wish to attend are encouraged to RSVP at

Thursday, January 3
125 Icons
In honor of Pratt Institute's 125th anniversary, the renowned NYC art, design and architecture school presents 125 Icons, an exhibition at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery. The show features 125 works produced by the school's top-notch faculty and alumni. Robert Mapplethorpe, Stefan Sagmeister, Betsey Johnson and Martin Landau are among the esteemed alumni featured, in various genres including illustration, advertising, architecture, industrial design, film and fashion. The plethora of prominent works includes the Chrysler Building, Big Bird, Blue Man Group, The Phantom Tollbooth, Scrabble, the Dunkin' Donuts and Ghostbusters logos and much more. The exhibition, which is the culmination of 16 months of celebratory events, will be on display through January 19.

Friday, January 4
Free Music Fridays: Hubby Jenkins
Every Friday evening, the always-free-admission American Folk Art Museum brings music to the public in an extraordinary setting. Talented independent musicians perform as guests sip wine and explore the museum's collection and current exhibitions. This week, Hubby Jenkins provides the sound track. A member of the Grammy Award–winning group Carolina Chocolate Drops, Jenkins' music is the kind of blues, country and folk that immediately transports listeners to another era, making it the perfect complement to the museum's art. Right now, the institution's offerings are all about sparkle: one exhibition focuses on tinsel paintings from the mid- to late 1800s (Foiled: Tinsel Painting in America) and the other features a collection of all things shiny in the American artistic tradition (Ooh, Shiny!). Jenkins will also teach audience members how to play "the bones," a folk instrument composed of animal bones or wood. The music starts at 5:30pm.

Saturday, January 5
The Great CSA Smackdown
Get ready for an old-fashioned food fight. Just Food is a nonprofit organization that helps New York City community groups initiate community supported agriculture (CSA) projects, connecting members with local farms for weekly deliveries of fresh produce. Some of Just Food's best CSA chefs will participate in The Great CSA Smackdown, where they'll go head-to-head in a healthy-food face-off. (Winners from preliminary rounds have advanced to this final culinary competition.) Come watch these cooks battle it out, from 2 to 4pm at St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery, and see who earns bragging rights for top CSA chef. Get your free tickets at

Sunday, January 6
Comedy Night @ The Knit "Front Bar" with Hannibal Buress
If your New Year's resolution is to laugh a whole lot more, you're in luck. Hannibal Buress has written for Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock, and has appeared on almost every late-night show on the air right now. Every Sunday night, he amuses audiences at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. The 21-and-older event really is free—as in "no-drink-minimum" free. But wise guys beware: Buress has been known to embarrass any hipster hecklers. The show starts at 9pm.

Monday, January 7
Damien Echols: Moving Forward; Looking Back 
Tragedy befell an Arkansas town in 1993 when three young boys were found murdered, which led to the arrest and wrongful conviction of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jesse Misskelley, Jr. (better known as "the West Memphis Three"). The trio served 18 years in prison for a crime they didn't commit; celebrity support, public outcry and tireless appeals led to their release in 2011. While behind bars on death row, Echols turned to art as a form of meditation. This show of his artworks, at Sacred Gallery, reflects Echols' adoption of Buddhism—some of the dreamy and serene drawings and collage pieces depict Buddha. All of the artwork is for sale. As Echols has said, "Too many bad memories for me to keep it." The show will be up through January 31.

Tuesday, January 8
Target Design Kids Toddler Program
The Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, housed in a mansion previously owned by Andrew Carnegie, is undergoing renovations until 2014, but that isn't stopping curators from continuing to bring first-class culture to the City. The institution's temporary home at 111 Central Park North hosts events, including this toddler program, which takes place every Tuesday and Thursday and welcomes children under 5 to exercise their creativity. On January 8, storyteller Jonathan Kruk entertains with fables and funny voices. Thanks to sponsorship by Target, the hour-long event is free. Register to attend the 10am session or the 11:30am session.


related venues/(5)

  1. 1
    American Museum of Natural History
    Central Park West at 79th St.
    Manhattan – Upper West Side
    NY 10024
  2. 2
    Pratt Manhattan Gallery
    144 W 14th St
    Manhattan – Greenwich Village
  3. 3
    American Folk Art Museum
    2 Lincoln Square
    Manhattan – Upper West Side
    NY 10023
  1. 4
    St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery
    131 E 10th St
    Manhattan – East Village
    NY 10003
  2. 5
    Knitting Factory
    361 Metropolitan Ave
    Brooklyn – Williamsburg
    NY 11211

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