5 Places to Visit for Free and Unique Art Experiences

We recently shared why taking Art History is so important but if you aren’t currently a student, you might be wondering where to hone your skills. Luckily for all of us, interesting ideas about art are all around us if only one knows where to look. Here are five suggestions to help your dive into the arts

1. Local Academic Spaces

It’s never too late to go back to school (for a night!) The Art History departments at your local universities and colleges often sponsor guest lectures or film viewings. Most of the time, these lectures and gallery talks are open to the public for no extra charge! If you think you might be uncomfortable at the cocktail hour, I suggest attending an event in a lecture-style event. There might be one speaker or a panel on a stage and the rest of the hall is darkened. It is an easy way to dip your foot into shallow end and you might even discover a cool museum affiliated with the school. In Boston? I suggest checking out the events at MassART, Harvard, or any of the other numerous other schools within the city.

2) Art Spaces off the Beaten Path

This one might require a bit of creativity but I also use the term “Art Space” broadly. After graduating, I wanted to keep engaging with art but I wasn’t exactly near schools. I kept my eye out on social media for new events and I was surprised to find how many other types of spaces there are! For example, there is a Leica Store near the Boston Common that is first and foremost a camera retailer. But it  has a photo gallery that anyone can peruse during store hours and sometimes they will also hold events! Similarly, the Boston Society for Architects is based near South Station and Boston’s Financial District. While I definitely felt intimidated stepping into this professional guild space, it is also open to the public. The lecture I attended there was a lecture on “Hip Hop Architecture”, which frankly was a revelation. This event was ticketed but the ticket itself was free. More recently, they hosted a lecture on The Democratization of Photography, which brought together many different photographers from the Boston area. 

As a student, I would have never thought of stepping into these spaces to continue my education but I highly encourage you to think outside the box and keep an eye out for events that seem interesting, even if they aren’t at schools

3. Your Local Library!

What better way to learn about art than to emulate the art historian’s experience than to spend hours poring over large books with beautiful photography? I think some of my fondest memories of college are the times spent in the library, surrounded by books and multiple cups of coffee and tea. Bonus points if your reading nook has a good view. 

4. Online

There are so many educational resources available online for free. From podcasts, to YouTube videos and TEDTalks, there are so many ways to find different topics to engage with. Best of all, it’s always available and can be inserted into YOUR schedule, be it the commute or evening before going to sleep. This is also a wonderful way to interact with art scholars who are producing their nuanced critiques on Tumblr and Twitter.   

5. Walk around the closest city

As an architecture nerd, this is my personal favorite. I live and photograph Boston, so there is no greater joy for me than walking around my city and thinking about the history and architecture. In addition to essentially being able to explain the history of the city just by looking at different neighborhoods, cities are also often the sites of Public Art, as is currently the case in the Seaport District. Take an afternoon to wander and ruminate. What’s the story of your city? Who built it and why? What does the future of the city look like? The answers to those might surprise you. 

While this is no means an exhaustive list of where you can find art around you, we hope that this is a good starting place for your art journey. Most of these are not classrooms of a traditional sense but we full-heartedly believe in the Pixar maxim “A good story (TFG edit: idea) can come from anywhere.” Ultimately, all we can ask is that you remain engaged with the world around you and the art within it. 


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