Free This Week


by Alyssa Grossman, 11/20/2013

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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.

November 20–26

Wednesday, November 20
Public Theater’s Mobile Shakespeare Unit: Much Ado About Nothing
Where: Flushing Meadows–Corona Park
When: 3pm
Shakespeare has a permanent place within New York City's theater scene; throughout the seasons, his plays are performed in Central Park, on Broadway and even in a parking lot. On this occasion the Bard's work makes its way to Queens for a free staging inside Flushing Meadows–Corona Park's Al Oerter Recreation Center. The show features performers from the famed Public Theater acting out the classic intertwined love stories: of Beatrice and Benedick, and Hero and Claudio. Much Ado About Nothing is presented by the Theater's Mobile Unit, a branch of the venue responsible for bringing entertainment and culture to groups with limited access to the arts. The play is directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah and choreographed by Chase Brock. To attend, RSVP by email to

Thursday, November 21
Custom House Tour
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: 3–4pm
The exhibitions inside Lower Manhattan's National Museum of the American Indian provide a rich cultural experience, and the building itself has a noteworthy story. Before income taxes were introduced in 1913, customs duties were a primary source of finances for the United States, with most goods making their way into the country through the Port of New York. So when it came time in 1899 to design the brand-new Alexander Hamilton US Custom House, a competition was held for the honor. Architect Cass Gilbert, later to design the renowned Woolworth Building, won the commission; the building took seven years to complete and, when finished, spanned 450,000 square feet, seven stories and three blocks. The structure is now a National Historic Landmark and home to the museum; on this hour-long tour, a museum ambassador will guide visitors through, noting artistic elements, architectural features and significant milestones in the building's history. The tour begins at 3pm at the Great Hall's visitor's desk on the museum's second floor.

Friday, November 22
Uniqlo Free Fridays
Where: Museum of Modern Art
When: 4–8pm
Many of New York City's museums offer free admission (and some great programming to go along with it)—you just need to know when to look. Kick off your Friday night at one of the City's most noteworthy institutions, where entrance to galleries, exhibitions and special film screenings costs nothing between 4pm and 8pm. In addition to seeing the museum's modern and contemporary art classics like van Gogh's Starry Night and Warhol's famous Campbell's Soup Cans, visitors can wander through revelatory short-term exhibitions such as American Modern: Hopper to O'Keeffe, New Photography 2013 and Cut 'n' Paste: From Architectural Assemblage to Collage City. Screenings at MoMA are also free on Friday nights, with tickets handed out from 4pm to 8pm. For a complete list of films, check the museum's calendar. Due to the popularity of free Friday night programming, it's best to line up early so you'll have ample time to explore.

Saturday, November 23
Free Tours by Foot: SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown
Where: Spring Street and Sixth Avenue, SW Corner
When: 10am–noon
Get a glimpse of three of Manhattan's eclectic neighborhoods on this downtown tour of SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown. A guide will lead tour goers through two hours of storied stops and photo-worthy locations, including Lombardi's Pizza, which claims the title of first pizzeria in America, and Chinatown's Canal and Mott Streets, where an enthusiastic brood of street vendors line the blocks. Other stops on the expedition include SoHo's historic cast-iron district, home to the Haughwout Building, and well-known area mafia spots and locations from popular TV shows and movies. Reservations are required. To sign up, choose your date on the Free Tours by Foot booking page.

Sunday, November 24 
Performa 13: Flag New York City
Where: Performa Hub, 13 Crosby St.
When: Ongoing
The monthlong contemporary art showcase Performa 13 has brought performances, projects and after-hours gatherings to over 60 local venues throughout the month of November. This year's event is inspired by the global themes of citizenship, identity and nationality. To riff on these ideas, 60 artists from a variety of countries were asked to create flags that would be displayed both at Performa's Crosby Street hub and throughout New York City. The resulting display is a vibrant mix of colors and symbols that explore the possibilities of this unconventional artistic medium.

Monday, November 25
Dog Bless You: The Photography of Mary Bloom
Where: Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
When: 7:30am–6pm
Man's best friend enters the spotlight at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Washington Heights. The latest exhibition by photographer Mary Bloom features portraits of many breeds, some with their loving owners and some with other animals. Bloom's animal-focused career has included working with the ASPCA to fight against seal hunting as well as taking pics for magazines and more than 40 canine-centric book titles. The artist spent more than 20 years as the photographer-in-residence for St. John the Divine before she became staff photographer for the Westminster Kennel Club. In recognition of her body of work, Bloom will be inducted next year into the Dog Writers Association of America's Hall of Fame. Along with the main part of the exhibition, Dog Bless You also features a slideshow of Bloom's photographs from her tenure at the church.

Tuesday, November 19
“Come Celebrate with Me”: The Work of Lucille Clifton
Where: Poets House
When: 11am–7pm
Battery Park City literary hub Poets House honors the life and career of the late poet Lucille Clifton, whose understated, richly metaphysical work explored everyday life and the African-American experience. The exhibition spans a period from the 1950s to 2010 and features letters, photos, manuscripts and other documentation from Clifton's celebrated career. The poet's achievements earned her significant praise from critics, and in 1988, she achieved the record-breaking honor of having two compilations of poetry as Pulitzer Prize finalists. Her work, which eschews capital letters and punctuation marks, also earned her the University of Massachusetts’ Juniper Prize, the National Book Award and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. On November 19—the night of the exhibition's opening reception—visitors can learn more during a free tour, beginning at 6pm.

related venues/(6)

  1. 1
    Flushing Meadows Corona Park
    111th St to Van Wyck Expy
    Queens – multiple locations
    NY 11375
  2. 2
    National Museum of the American Indian—NY
    1 Bowling Green
    Manhattan – Financial District
    NY 10004
  3. 3
    The Museum of Modern Art - MoMA
    11 W. 53rd St.
    Manhattan – Midtown West
    NY 10019
  1. 4
    Free Tours by Foot
    112 Suffolk St.
    NY 10002
  2. 5
    Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
    1047 Amsterdam Ave.
    Manhattan – Morningside Heights
    NY 10025
  3. 6
    Poets House
    10 River Terr.
    Manhattan – Battery Park City
    NY 10282

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