The best free art exhibitions in NYC

Discover New York City’s top free art exhibitions and gallery shows in our roundup of critic’s picks

Photograph: Courtesy Andrew Kreps Gallery

Looking for some free art, culture vultures? Thought so. Which is why we found a bunch of gratis art shows at galleries and museums in NYC that won’t cost you a cent. Visit well-known institutions like the Pace Gallery and David Zwirner and still have money in your pocket for lunch at one of the best restaurants in NYC.

RECOMMENDED: See the full guide to free things to do in NYC

Best free art exhibitions in NYC


“Anselm Kiefer: Uraeus”

Nietzsche’s notions about the will to power, the death of God and the Übermensch or Superman provide partial inspiration for Kiefer’s Uraeus, his first-ever public art commission in the United States. Standing 20-feet tall, the work features some of the German artist’s signature materials (lead sheeting) and motifs (books, wings) in a paean to classical mythology. 

Read more
Public Art Fund at Rockefeller Center Plaza , Midtown West Until Sunday July 22 2018

“Diana Al-Hadid: Delirious Matter”

The sculptures of Syrian-born Brooklyn artist Diana Al-Hadid are known for commenting on history, globalism and the human condition through a haunting mix of fragmentary figuration and abstraction. “Delirious Matter” represents the artist’s first major public art project and comprises six new installations spread out over Madison Square Park.

Read more
Madison Square Park , Flatiron Until Monday September 3 2018

Mernet Larsen, “Situation Rooms”

Larsen, 78, cites El Lissitzky and Early-Renaissance painting as sources for her spatially skewed compositions populated by blocky figures. Here, she’s seated them around tables in configurations meant to recall the many faculty meeting Larsen attended during her long career as a professor of art at Florida State University.

Read more
James Cohan Gallery , Chelsea Tuesday May 29 2018 - Saturday June 16 2018

Michelangelo Lovelace, “The Land”

Cleveland, Ohio is known as the “Mistake On The Lake” outside city limits, but among the members of its Hip-Hop community, it’s referred to by the more dignified, “The Land.” Cleveland native Michelangelo Lovelace takes the name as the show title for his scenes of local, inner-city life painted in a vibrant style that recalls folk and outsider art.

Read more
Fort Gansevoort , Meatpacking District Tuesday May 29 2018 - Saturday June 16 2018

Takashi Murakami, “Heads ↔ Heads”

The Japanese art star applies his talents to a series of paintings meant to pay homage to Edo-period artist Soga Shōhaku and to School of London monstre sacré Francis Bacon, though the latter’s work seems more suited to Murakami’s gonzo anime approach.

Read more
Perrotin New York , Lenox Hill Until Sunday June 17 2018

Sarah Peters, “Figureheads”

Peters’s sculptural busts mix the archaic and the modern, and look like they could have been dug out of the sands of Egypt or Mesopotamia, or fished from some ancient shipwreck site in the Aegean Sea. But they are very contemporary in the way they address the psychology of power—an aspect of human nature that’s as timeless as the art her work recalls.

Read more
Van Doren Waxter , Lower East Side Until Saturday June 2 2018

“Yinka Shonibare MBE: Wind Sculpture (SG) I”

British-Nigerian artist Shonibare (who appends the MBE to his name in recognition of his receiving the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) is adding some additional color to Central Park with an undulating Fiberglass sculpture covered in bold shapes sporting a palette of bright hues. According to the artist, the scheme is inspired by the beaches near his childhood home in Lagos, Nigeria, but they also recall the batik fabrics (produced in Indonesia by the Dutch to export to Colonial Africa) that have become signature references in his work.

Read more
Doris C. Freedman Plaza , Upper East Side Until Sunday October 14 2018

Carroll Dunham

Turning away from his recent focus on female nudes, Dunham has been working over the past year on a new series of wrestling men—also naked and also treated with his signature cartoonish flair. They're seen grappling with each other in stylized landscapes populated by various critters surveying the mayhem, which is charged with a distinctly homoerotic undercurrent. 

Read more
Gladstone Gallery , Chelsea Until Saturday June 16 2018

Alberto Savinio

Giorgio de Chirico’s younger brother, Savinio lived under the shadow of his more famous sibling. Still, he shared De Chirico’s Surreal aesthetic and haunting subject matter, though not his classical precision. Instead, Savinio opted for a combination of softer contours and brushwork that, in something of a supreme irony, became the template for Chirico’s late work.

Read more
Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA) , Soho Friday June 1 2018 - Saturday June 23 2018
See more free art in NYC

Looking for more things to do in NYC?


Allie E

Thanks! This list is really helpful. Looking forward to checking out Moira Dryer's work.