Fall attractions offer free fun for students

Fall attractions offer free fun for students

By Mayeesha Galiba, news correspondent

While cool temperatures and early nights begin to take hold on the city after a summer of frequent public events, Bostonians have several free attractions to attend in the fall. For those wondering where to find their next dose of complementary fun – indoors or out – The News has compiled a list of things to do around the city.

The Arnold Arboretum

Living in Boston, it can be easy to forget that the city is centered in an area with beautiful foliage. However, getting out to nature can be tricky with only public transportation as a means of travel. The Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University offers an antidote to nature withdrawal in the form of 271 acres of biodiverse land, open and free to the public from sunrise to sunset. It’s accessible from the Orange Line, located right off the Forest Hills stop.

“Particularly during the month of October, we have a lot of free tour opportunities for people to see seasonal changes in our plants and nuts,” Jon Hetman, director of external relations at the Arboretum, said. “Just in general, it makes a great place to come to see the seasonal color changes in the city. You don’t have to go up to Vermont; you can see some very vibrant colors right here in Boston.”

The Arboretum offers art exhibits as well as guided tours in an effort to appeal to a wide range of patrons.

The visitor’s center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through October, and noon to 4 p.m. November through March, except on Wednesdays. Directions are listed on the Arboretum website.

The Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo

Comic enthusiasts can join more than 150 independent graphic novelists at the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo. The event offers opportunities to interact with artists and creators as well as engage in workshops and panel discussions to understand the art of comics.

“It ranges from self-published art comics to some graphic novelists who are well known, like Jean Yang and the creators of the Adventure Time series,” Dan Mazur, co-director of the expo, said. “It’s an independent comics show – not a superhero comics show – but it runs a real range of stuff for all tastes and a chance to meet a lot of the artists or authors who make stuff.”

The event is family-friendly and focuses not only on the graphic part of comics but on writing and conceptualization as well. It will also feature work from dozens of college art students, who often approach comics and graphic novels with a different frame of mind than casual fans or professionals, according to Mazur.

“It’s presented by Lesley [University], which has an art school so our art students come presenting their stuff. It’s a very fun show with lots of panel discussions,” Mazur said.

The expo will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 17 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 18 in University Hall at Lesley University. 1815 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge.

Free Thursdays at the Institute of Contemporary Art

Each week, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) hosts free tours of the building’s architecture at 6 p.m. Guides take patrons through the unique aspects of the building before showcasing Materials Matter, an exhibit centered on how artists transform mundane, everyday materials into works of art.

Free Thursdays coincide with a new ICA exhibit about Black Mountain College (BMC), an experimental liberal arts school founded in 1933 and closed down in 1957. In those 25 years, the college spawned diverse works of art, poetry, literature, music and dance, according to the ICA website. The exhibit showcases art from more than 90 artists influenced by BMC and archived video footage and sound recordings.

The ICA is located on 100 Northern Ave., right on the waterfront, giving visitors the option of a harbor walk before or after viewing exhibits. The ICA’s Water Cafe also gives patrons the option of an open-air dining experience.

Free Thursdays run with extended hours from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. between Oct. 10 and Jan. 24.

Astronomy After Hours

Friday nights mean free stargazing at the Museum of Science’s rooftop Gilliand Observatory for the rest of fall. Clear autumn nights promise views of planets, the moon, stars and other astral phenomena. On cloudier evenings, when constellations are not visible, the museum offers tours of the observatory and a host of other indoor evening activities geared toward astronomy fans.

“I went to the Open Night at the Observatory at [Boston University], and that was great because I got to learn about some star clusters,” Katie Soldau, a Northeastern University senior computer science and interactive media major, said. “I’d love to check out Astronomy After Hours now and hopefully get a closer look at some planets and the moon this time around.”

A museum hotline, 617-589-0267,  is updated on Fridays at 5:30 p.m. to inform potential attendees what the plans for that evening will be. The program’s website features monthly sky charts previewing what will be visible in the sky on specific days.

Astronomy After Hours runs every Friday through mid-November between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. The Museum of Science is located at 1 Science Park and is accessible by the MBTA.

Photo courtesy Creative Commons, MK Feeney

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