NEW YORK FOR FREE
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There’s something for everyone - and almost all of it for free, right in the middle of Manhattan. From poetry and puppet shows to putting and ping pong, beekeeping to boot camp to the Bard, there’s a daily programme of things to do for all ages. There’s even free WiFi to save you burning up expensive data.
Thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster musical, the life and times of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton have renewed awareness. You can visit Hamilton’s New York home (from 1802 until his death two years later) for free. Read the New York Times review here.
According to Wikipedia, there are more than 200 commercial art galleries in Chelsea, between roughly 14th Street up to the upper 20s. Don’t be intimidated by the security guards and the black-clad gallerists (they are only human after all and more welcoming than they sometimes first appear!) From YOTEL New York, head down to 34th Street to the northernmost end of the High Line and then walk the Line to 28th Street or 26th Street.
Many of the galleries represent some of the world’s most influential contemporary artists – if you strike it lucky, you’ll get to see work of the quality you’ll find at MOMA, but for free. Some recommendations include:
FLAG – this non-profit art foundation was founded in 2008 with a view to bringing contemporary art to a diverse audience. As such, they mix big-name artists (Ellsworth Kelly, Rachel Whiteread) and provocative, curated shows such as 2018’s Dime-Store Alchemy.
Matthew Marks Gallery – one of the first galleries to move into Chelsea, their 9,000 sqft (835 sqm) gallery showcases work from world-famous artists such as Nan Goldin, Robert Adams, Jasper John, Ellsworth Kelly, and Katharina Fritsch.
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery – another stalwart of the Chelsea art scene, this gallery represents Olafur Eliasson, famous for his New York City Waterfalls project as well as the Weather Project at Tate Modern.
Gagosian Gallery – of the five (yes, five) galleries that Gagosian has in New York, the biggest draw (and biggest space) is at West 24th Street: 25,000 sqft (2,300 sqm) exhibiting a veritable army of top-name artists. Nearby, his gallery at West 21st Street is definitely worth a look – this spring it’s showing largely new / unseen work by Jeff Wall.
Paula Cooper Gallery – another Chelsea pioneer with a stellar list of artists who include Sophie Calle, Sol LeWitt, Christian Marclay and Walid Raad.
You can also dodge admission fees at some of New York’s finest visitor attractions if you get the time and day right:
Museum of the Moving Image – free 4-8pm, Friday
MoMA – free 4-8pm, Friday
Brooklyn Museum – First Saturdays, free 5-11pm
Bronx Zoo – “pay what you wish” Wednesdays… although the suggestion is that you pay the usual admission fee.