Central Park in New York: Concerts and events

Fill your calendar with outdoor activities in Central Park in New York, including SummerStage concerts and Shakespeare in the Park performances.

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Central Park in New York: SummerStage

Central Park in New York: SummerStage Photograph: John Klemm


Come summertime, Central Park is abuzz with a staggering amount of summer events: SummerStage concerts, the free Central Park Conservancy Film Festival, comedy shows, rooftop poetry readings, Shakespeare in the Park, classical concerts, the New York Phil…. We could go on, but instead we've organized every event by date in the list below. So whether you're looking for something to do today, this weekend or next month, you can easily find what you want.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Central Park in New York  


"ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s–60s"

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

It’s often the case that the most self-consciously futuristic art of its time seems the most dated in retrospect. So it is with much of the output of the ZERO group, a movement founded in Dusseldorf in 1957 by the German artists Otto Piene and Heinz Mack, and later expanded to include Günther Uecker. (A show of Mack’s work from the 1950s runs concurrently at Sperone Westwater, and his sci-fi looking photographs are worth the visit alone.) ZERO emerged at a time when artists across Europe were reacting against the Tachist and Expressionist painting then in vogue. Its name conveyed the group’s desire to reassert avant-gardism in the aftermath of WWII—to make it new by starting from zero. Combining utopian and spiritual aspirations with a faith in modern materials and technology, Piene, Mack and Uecker found their language in light, space, color and motion. (It would take another few years before younger German painters such as Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter would confront the legacy of the Third Reich in their art.) Throughout the 1960s, Piene, Mack, and Uecker formed affiliations with likeminded artists in Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Latin America, the US and Japan through visits, correspondence, exhibitions and publications. This thoroughly researched and beautifully realized exhibition at the Guggenheim traces the connections (and disconnections) between the artists of ZERO and their global counterparts—the so-called ZERO network—and makes the cas

  1. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Ave, at 89th St, 10128
  2. Wed Nov 26 - Wed Dec 31
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Amie Siegel, Provenance

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

In the early 1950s, a newly independent India commissioned Le Corbusier to design a city, Chandigarh, as a regional administrative center in the northern part of the country. The institutional buildings he created with other modernist architects were outfitted with functional furniture (designed by his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret), that has become collectible in Europe and the United States. Provenance, Amie Siegel’s slow-paced, engrossing HD video, traces this narrative of objects in reverse. Using long takes, ambient sound and no voiceover, she starts with shots of midcentury chairs, tables, stools, desks and sofas ensconced in tony New York apartments and offices, and on a luxury yacht. The images unfold in time through auction houses, photographers’ and restorers’ studios, warehouses and shipping containers, then back to Chandigarh itself, where the furniture lies broken and discarded or stacked in abandoned rooms in aging Brutalist edifices. Siegel’s work, as we might expect, has more in mind than an anecdote in the history of taste; the artist’s reticent recounting of the saga of Jeanneret’s unlovely furnishings reveals itself over time as a contemplation of the trickle-up mechanics of globalism. Lot 248, a second, shorter video, documents the 2013 auction of a copy of Provenance at Christie’s in London. Bidding occurs fitfully; the hammer falls at a respectable 42,000 pounds. Siegel neatly inserts her own work as a conceptual double into the same circuits that govern the

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Wed Nov 26 - Sun Jan 4
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"Kandinsky Before Abstraction, 1901–1911"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Besides being one of the first artists to push Modern painting into the realm of pure abstraction, Vasily Kandinsky (1866–1944) is also the signature artist of the Guggenheim collection, which contains more than 150 of his works. Taking advantage of its trove, the Gugg pulls out its holding of Kandinsky's paintings and woodcuts, spanning the decade before the artist's abstract breakthrough, when he worked in a representational style typical of the Blue Rider group.

  1. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Ave, at 89th St, 10128
  2. Wed Nov 26 - Wed Dec 31
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"Cubism"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

These 80 paintings, collages, drawings and sculptures from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection—all promised gifts to the Met—represent the first time they have been shown in public, offering an opportunity to revisit the seminal early-20th-century movement through the taste of one patron. The contributing artists make up a mighty quartet of Braque, Gris, Léger and Picasso.   

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Wed Nov 26 - Wed Dec 31
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"V.S. Gaitonde: Painting as Process, Painting as Life"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Over the past 20 years, contemporary artists from India have become significant players in the global art market, so it's only natural that Western institutions would begin to explore the context from which they emerged. Enter this Guggenheim retrospective of painter Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde (1924–2001). Gaitonde started as a figurative painter, channeling Indian tradition through modernist templates brought to the subcontinent by the British. By the mid-1960s, his style had evolved into abstraction. After a 1964 Rockefeller fellowship in New York, where he was exposed to the work of Mark Rothko, he began to create vertically formatted, all-over compositions ranging from burnt orange to deep green. These sometimes included glyphlike motifs, suspended between past and present to evoke ancient tablets or batik fabrics illuminated by the light from India's skies, seas and jungles.

  1. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Ave, at 89th St, 10128
  2. Wed Nov 26 - Wed Dec 31
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"Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Widow's weeds from the Victorian and Edwardian period are given the Costume Institute survey treatment, which charts the evolution of funeral fashion from The Napoleonic Wars to WWI.

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Wed Nov 26 - Wed Dec 31
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"Thomas Hart Benton's America Today Mural Rediscovered"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Benton is generally known for being the crusty anti-Modernist teacher of Jackson Pollock, so it's somewhat ironic that his epic 10-panel mural, America Today, was commissioned in 1930 by New York’s New School for Social Research for the boardroom of its International Style building on West 12th Street. Even more ironic is the work's depiction of life during the country's explosively modern Jazz Age, though the painting was created at the onset of the Great Depression. Nevertheless, it is a classic of the mural form, and one of Benton's masterpieces. For years, the work was installed in the lobby of the old Equitable Building on Seventh Avenue; it was just recently donated to the Met by the AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company. It makes its debut here in its new, and presumably permanent, home.

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Wed Nov 26 - Sun Apr 19
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"Thomas Struth: Photographs"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

These 25 photos by Struth, dating from 1978 to the present, are exemplary of the German artist's panoramic, empirical treatment of subjects, which range here from deserted New York streets to a robotically assisted surgery in progress.

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Wed Nov 26 - Mon Feb 16
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Wang Jianwei, Time Temple

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Installation, painting, film and live theater are all part of this Chinese artist’s exhibition, his first in America and the first of three major works commissioned by the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative for the Guggenheim. The piece, which will become part of the Gugg’s permanent collection, is the latest example of the artist’s ongoing examination of social order and the individual’s relationship to it. His work also often alludes to China’s modern history.

  1. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Ave, at 89th St, 10128
  2. Wed Nov 26 - Mon Feb 16
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"El Greco in New York"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of El Greco (1541–1614), surely one of the most popular of the Old Masters, not only due to the devotional nature of his work, but also because much of it anticipated modern Expressionism (or, more accurately, influenced it). To mark the occasion, the Met brings out its considerable El Greco holdings, including the superlative View of Toledo, painted around 1597, and The Hispanic Society of America has loaned its El Grecos to the show (while the Frick has likewise dusted off its examples of the Greek-born Spanish painter). In all, this trove represents the single largest group of El Greco’s art outside of the Prado in Madrid.

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Wed Nov 26 - Sun Feb 1
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"Bartholomeus Spranger: Splendor and Eroticism in Imperial Prague"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

As Old Masters go, Spranger (1546–1611) is not terribly well-known, but the force of his work as court painter to popes, cardinals and Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II is undeniable, as is the sexual undercurrent of his nude subjects.

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Wed Nov 26 - Sun Feb 1
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"Madame Cézanne"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Although Paul Cézanne’s wife was his most frequently painted subject, she’s been given short shrift by art historians, who have tended to focus on the artist’s still lifes, landscapes and figurative studies of bathers. As a remedy, the Met gathers paintings, drawings and watercolors, featuring Hortense Fiquet (the spouse in question) from its collection, as well as from others in Asia, Europe and the United States.

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Wed Nov 26 - Sun Mar 15
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The Three Bears Holiday Bash

  • Price band: 1/4

This seasonal offering of song, dance and, of course, puppetry comes from the talented folks at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre. Tots will see a mix of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas themes incorporated into the company's take on "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." The plot snowballs after Baby Bear invites St. Nick to star in Mama and Papa Bear's festive spectacular. All ages.

  1. Central Park Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre west side, at 79th St
  2. Wed Nov 26 - Tue Dec 30
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"Egon Schiele: Portraits"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Vienna at the turn of the 20th century was a hothouse of psychological and sexually charged art, and no figure channeled the milieu better than Egon Schiele (1890–1918), whose fevered sensibility found expression in often-explicit drawings and paintings depicting subjects that were as jittery. This show, the first to focus on his output in portraiture, collects some 125 examples of his work in two and three dimensions, featuring likenesses of lovers, fellow artists and himself.

  1. Neue Galerie New York 1048 Fifth Ave, at 86th St
  2. Thu Nov 27 - Mon Jan 19
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Central Park Holiday Lighting

  • Critics choice
  • Free

It just wouldn’t be the holidays if the city weren’t using up enough electricity in a month to power a small country for a decade. For nearly 20 years, the Central Park Conservancy has been draping the Charles A. Dana Center in holiday lights and ringing in the season alongside a hot-cocoa-bearing Santa.

  1. Central Park, Charles A. Dana Discovery Center enter at E 110th St and Fifth Ave
  2. Thu Dec 4
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“Wreath Interpretations”

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This exhibit features the work of more than 45 artists and horticulturists in its 32nd show with wreaths made out of electrical cord, recycled plastic bags , neckties and even rat- traps. If there’s an urban-dwelling family member on your gift list who’s hard to shop for; look no further.

  1. Arsenal Gallery in Central Park 830 Fifth Ave, at 64th St, third floor
  2. Fri Dec 5
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"Warriors and Mothers: Epic Mbembe Art"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The Met brings together wood carvings created between the 17th and 19th centuries by the Mbembe people of southeastern Nigeria. These artifacts, which could sometimes measure several feet in height, were believed to have originally adorned monumental drums used in spiritual ceremonies.

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
  2. Tue Dec 9 - Mon Sep 7
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Junior Keepers

  • Price band: 2/4
  1. Central Park Zoo Southeast corner of Central Park,, enter at Fifth Ave and 64th St
  2. Sun Dec 14
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"On Kawara—Silence"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Over the 40 year span of his career, On Kawara has been best known for his “Today” series of paintings, one created each day in a single day and bearing, simply, the date of its making. Starting in 1966, he’s maintained this daily practice even while traveling, marking the location of each place a painting was created by covering the back of the canvas with the front page of the local newspaper from the same day. However, as this Guggenheim retrospective demonstrates, he’s undertaken other projects as well, some involving postcards or maps. But all share the same deep commitment to concretely taking the measure of time and place. The survey is the first full presentation of his work ever undertaken.

  1. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 Fifth Ave, at 89th St, 10128
  2. Fri Feb 6 - Mon May 4
More info

Junior Keepers

  • Price band: 2/4
  1. Central Park Zoo Southeast corner of Central Park,, enter at Fifth Ave and 64th St
  2. Sun Mar 22
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Mother's Day at Central Park Zoo

  • Price band: 2/4

The Central Park Zoo will host a family party to celebrate moms, both animal and human. Meet zoo moms and their babies on a scavenger hunt, make treats, and do some Mother’s Day-themed arts and crafts. Ages 3-10 with adult.

  1. Central Park Zoo Southeast corner of Central Park,, enter at Fifth Ave and 64th St
  2. Sun May 10
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