Best free things to do today in New York City

Looking for a gratis event going down today? We’ve got you covered! Discover the top free things to do right now.

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So you’re pinching pennies and bored. We’ve been there. But that’s no reason to stay in your apartment!  Get outside and check out these cool free things to do.


RECOMMENDED: Full list of free things to do in NYC


1

Laurie Simmons, "Kigurumi, Dollers and How We See"

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Critics choice

Widely known for her photographs of dolls, ventriloquist dummies and objects on legs, Laurie Simmons has been a fixture on the New York art scene since the mid-1970s, when she first emerged as part of the Pictures Generation. On the heels of a highly acclaimed series titled “Love Doll,” which captured extremely lifelike sex dolls in otherwise bland, domestic settings, Simmons returns to Salon 94 with two new bodies of work, as well as a lively animation for the gallery’s outdoor video wall. The most extensive group of photos was inspired by kigurumi, a Japanese subculture in which participants known as dollers don costumes and masks to bring female anime characters to three-dimensional life. Simmons convinced a few of her friends, both male and female, to transform themselves in like manner and model for her. The results can be seen in five large color photos taken inside and around a beat-up, abandoned house in Connecticut. Through careful positioning and tight framing, Simmons manages to make her Keane-eyed characters—some of whom stand still in corners, while others vamp coquettishly—appear like they’re in a dollhouse. Another oversize photo features a pair of dollers wearing mermaid tails, stretched out on a deep-blue bedspread like fish out of water. Some smaller prints picture individual dollers indoors and out, intently shooting selfies, suggesting levels of self-dramatization layered one within the next like a matryoshka of narcissism. Tossed into the mix are two larg

  1. Salon 94 Bowery 243 Bowery, at Stanton St, 10002
  2. Thu Apr 24 - Sun Apr 27
More info
2

Ghada Amer, "Rainbow Girls"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

Since she first emerged as an artist in 1990, Ghada Amer has filtered her work through her experiences as an Egyptian woman brought up by observant Muslim parents in France. This background accounts, perhaps, for her particular take on feminism: a fearless mix of politics and pornography, Arabic tradition and Western liberalism, most notable in her signature stitched-canvas “paintings.” Her show at Cheim & Read includes the latest incarnations of these, as well as metal sculptures. An example of the latter, Blue Bra Girls, interconnects the figures of eight women within an egg-shaped form as a tribute to female protesters beaten by soldiers in Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring. Similarly, the rape and imprisonment of Amina Sboui, a Tunisian activist known for her topless protests, is recalled in Amina, an embroidered painting of a reclining nude overlaid with Arabic texts. As powerful as the sculptures are, the paintings command your attention because of the way Amer leaves the end of each basted thread long and loose, creating an effect that recalls painterly drips. The irony underscoring these compositions, of course, is that Amer employs a medium associated with women to explore the line between oppression and empowerment. But it is also this combination of visual allure and political message that makes her work so compelling.—Paul Laster

  1. Cheim & Read 547 W 25th St, between Tenth and Eleventh Aves, 10001
  2. Thu Apr 24 - Sat May 10
More info
3

Michelangelo Pistoletto, "The Minus Objects 1965-1966"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

Radical for their time, the sculptural pieces making up “The Minus Objects” were created by Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto in December 1965 and January 1966, and then displayed in his Turin studio. They were the ironic result of his success with the “Mirror Paintings,” in which full-scale photorealistic images were affixed to large reflective stainless-steel sheets. Determined to challenge the requirement of having a recognizable style, Pistoletto made these 28 works in a variety of materials. Together they represent the infinite possibilities of creation, minus themselves—hence the series’s title. This sense of sublime absurdity extends to the pieces themselves. A deep wooden frame with built-in table and chairs becomes a 3-D painting one can enter. A figure-shaped bathtub steps down in size like a nesting doll. An enlarged photo of Jasper Johns’s head is divided into two versions: one with his ears cropped, the other of just his ears and the white void in between. But the guiding spirit of the show is best conveyed by a cube made of mirrors. Lashed together with crisscrossing ropes, each side faces inward, away from the viewer—evoking an immeasurable realm where artistic options are as myriad as they are unseen. —Paul Laster

  1. Luhring Augustine Bushwick 25 Knickerbocker Ave, between Ingraham St and Johnson Ave, 11237
  2. Fri Apr 25 - Sat May 3
More info
4

"Ladies and Gentlemen...The Beatles!"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

On the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four arriving stateside, the Public Library for the Performing Arts and the Grammy Museum showcase memorabilia, recordings, videos and photos of the mop-topped musicians—and the Beatlemania that followed them.

  1. New York Public Library for the Performing Arts 40 Lincoln Center Plaza, at 65th St
  2. Thu Apr 24 - Sat May 10
More info
5

“Moving Murals: Henry Chalfant & Martha Cooper’s All-City Graffiti Archive”

  • Critics choice
  • Free

For its debut exhibit, City Lore revisits the street-art-painted subway cars of NYC in the ’70s and early ’80s. Images of more than 850 tattooed trains line the wall of the gallery, creating an immersive environment that echoes the rail yards where artists would practice their craft.

  1. City Lore Gallery 56 E 1st St, between First and Second Aves, 10003
  2. Thu Apr 24 - Thu Jul 10
More info
See all free things to do today


Users say

12 comments

@me

Must do ..

Annette
Annette

Had a great time. You can walk from gallery to gallery and feel welcome.

Regina
Regina

Sucks that you don't have the West Indian parade listed.

me
me

these seem fun! NOT!

AriellacomA
AriellacomA

Limelight is hosting fashion week- with free shows for the next 6 days... The designers are great and it's a nice crowd. Definitely worth it! RSVP@limelightshops.com

Jane C. Nicholson
Jane C. Nicholson

always like new things and I like your taste i almost everything.