Art for Free

by Rebecca McCoy

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Funding for the arts keeps plunging in the United States. But just because you're trying to live on a budget doesn't mean you have to cut art out of your life. Whether you want to expose your kids to the arts or you want a new and interesting date alternative, you can often get your art for free. Art covers a wide spectrum of media-visual art, performing art, music, and more. This article will discuss a few thrifty ways to see more visual art.

There are three main kinds of organizations you can look into to get your visual art fix.

  1. Art museums. Just about every city has an art museum. Museums usually have permanent collections of work as well as special exhibitions that may last for several months. But did you know that many art museums also designate a day or time frame when admission is free? For example, some museums allow visitors in for free on Sundays or on the first Thursday of every month. Depending on the museum, tours, special talks or events, child friendly art projects and musical performances may also take place during the free admission time. It's practically a party. Check out the local art museums in your area to see if they have a set time when visitors can get in for free. See if you can get on a mailing list for advance notice of events and exhibitions. You may have to be a member of the museum to get mailings.

  2. Art galleries. When you think of an art gallery, you may think of a place where people spend a great deal of money on famous works of art. But art galleries don't have to be so intimidating. The fact is every town has some kind of art gallery even if it's a part of a community art center. Many art galleries show emerging and local artists who want people to come out and see their art for free. Art galleries usually change their exhibitions more often than do art museums. While you can go to art galleries anytime during open hours, what you may be interested in are the opening receptions for new shows. These receptions can be a great opportunity to see some artwork, nibble on some hors d' oeuvres, mingle with others, and even meet the artist. Not a bad way to spend a Friday evening. To find out about these openings, first locate some galleries that you like. You might talk to your local arts council. After you find a gallery you like, sign up for the mailing list. It will be free because galleries want you to come to see their artists. You'll then receive notices of upcoming shows and the dates and times of receptions.

  3. Colleges and universities. While not every college or university has an art program, many do, even rather small colleges. Some schools may have their own art museum, but the art department may also have space. Schools not only show student work, but also have exhibitions of regional and national artists. These shows usually have opening receptions similar to art galleries. However, schools may also sponsor separate talks by or forums with artists. Contact local colleges or universities or check their calendars for art events. Pay special attention at the end of the school year when graduating students often put on final shows.

With just a little bit of thought and investigation, you can fill up your next few weekends with art. And you can do it all without spending a penny. So go ahead and expand your and your families' horizon and support the arts!

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