Free Things to Do in Boston, November 2014

Check out free events happening in the area this month including President Jimmy Carter's book tour, the reopening of the Harvard Art Museums, and more.


Skateboarding Photo via Shutterstock

How Did You Do It, Mr. Piano?

Before the Harvard Art Museums reopen November 16, join Harvard’s Graduate School of Design for a talk with architect Renzo Piano. The renowned designer, who’s also responsible for the new wing of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, will give a presentation on the brand-new Harvard Art Museums building. See below for more free events celebrating the long-awaited reopening.

Free, Thursday, November 6, 6-8 p.m., Piper Auditorium, Gund Hall, 48 Quincy St., Cambridge,

RePLAY Presents: Videri String Quartet

Tickets may start at $43 to see RePLAY: Symphony of Heroes at Symphony Hall, but for a fee-free sampling of what the video-game orchestra can do, check out Videri String Quartet at BU. The hourlong program teases a full-scale geek-tastic performance later this month, when RePLAY will perform music from games like Halo, Portal 2, and more.

Free, Friday, November 7, 1-2 p.m., GSU Link, 775 Commonwealth Ave., Boston,

“Jump the Wall” Skateboard Contest

BU and Thuro Skate Shop will co-host a skateboard contest November 7 as part of a two-day event commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall presented by the BU Arts Initiative, the BU Center for the Study of Europe, and the Goethe-Institut Boston. After the skateboard contest, stick around for a screening of Marten Persiel’s film on skater subculture, “This Ain’t California.”

Free, Friday, November 7, 5 p.m., Cummington Mall at BU,

Boston Veterans Day Parades

Honor those who have fought for our country at Boston’s two Veterans Day parades on November 11. In what has become a curious tradition rooted in slightly differing ideologies, the Veteran’s Day Parade begins at the corner of Boylston and Tremont Streets at 1 p.m., while the Veterans for Peace Parade starts a mere three minutes and 300 yards later. Both parades will wind around the Common, City Hall Plaza, and Faneuil Hall. Speeches and music from past and present members of the military will occur in tandem with the parades.

Free, Tuesday, November 11, 1 p.m.,

StereoType at BSA Space

This one’s for you, typophiles. BSA Space’s new exhibit will explore the endless possibilities of typography, taking a typically two-dimensional craft into a third dimension. The exhibit, titled StereoType, will feature the works of 14 designers from around the world who use other disciplines like animation, nanoscience, and graffiti to bring their letters to life. Legible? Maybe not. Cool? Totally.

Free, Thursday, November 13, through May 25, 2015, BSA Space, 290 Congress St., Suite 200, Boston, 617-391-4000,

Malcolm Rogers Lowell Lecture

Rogers, the outgoing director of the MFA who has led the museum for 20 years, will deliver a Lowell Institute Lecture this month on the state of art museums, appropriately titled, “The Art Museum: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” Well, for starters, we’re going to as many of Rogers’s talks as possible before he retires and leaves us.

Free, Thursday, November 13, 8 p.m., Emerson Hall at Harvard, Room 105, Cambridge,

Reopening of the Harvard Art Museums

At long last, the highly anticipated reopening of the Harvard Art Museums is upon us. The brand-new state-of-the-art facility with all the trimmings—including a courtyard, glass ceiling, and so on, will open its doors mid-November with a slew of special free days. Kicking off the inaugural season in the new space is “Mark Rothko’s Harvard Murals,” which uses digital projection to restore murals’ rich colors. See this and more for free on designated community days in celebration of the reopening:

Cambridge Community Day, Saturday, November 15 (Cambridge residents only).
Opening Day, Sunday, November 16.
Free Admission Day, Monday, November 17.
Free Admission Day, Tuesday, November 18.

Timed-ticket reservations required, hours vary, Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy St., Cambridge,

Book Talk and Signing with President Jimmy Carter

Don’t even try to pretend meeting a former President of the United States isn’t cool. To promote his book A Call to Action, President Jimmy Carter will take part in a talk hosted by Harvard Divinity School at Memorial Church. Those who can’t make it—a Wednesday afternoon, seriously?—can watch a livestream of the event at

Bonus: Carter will also discuss the book with Ronan Farrow at the JFK Library on Thursday, November 20. This event is full, but like Harvard’s, the JFK Library talk will also be livestreamed.

Free, tickets required (available November 4 at 12 p.m.), Wednesday, November 19, 3:30 p.m., Memorial Church, 1 Harvard Yard, Cambridge,

“Sarah Crowner: Vidas Perfectas” Dance Performance at the MFA

As part of the exhibit “Conversation Piece” at the MFA, the museum has partnered with the Boston Ballet to bring one of the works, Sarah Crowner’s Vidas Perfectas curtain, to life. Every month, dancers from Boston Ballet II will perform a choreographed piece by BB principal Yury Yanowsky in front of Vidas Perfectas. The intimate performance takes place conveniently every third Wednesday evening, when admission to the museum is gratis. Of course, while you’re there, you might as well also check out Goya: Order and Disorder, Shinique Smith: Bright Matter, and Hollywood Glamour.

Free, Wednesday, November 19, 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Museum of Fine Arts, Gallery 265, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, 617-267-9300,

Blink! at Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Like it or not, November means it’s holiday season again, so get ready for fa-la-las and everything else that implies. At Faneuil Hall, the holidays kick off on November 22 with the return of “Blink! A Light and Sound Extravaganza” featuring music by the Boston Pops. Cheesy holiday cheer? You know you love it.

Free, Saturday, November 22, 8 p.m., through January 4, Faneuil Hall, Boston,

29th Annual Boston Tuba Christmas Concert

Also returning this year is the annual Boston Tuba Christmas Concert. More than 150 tuba players—who knew there were so many of them?—will brighten up your Saturday by playing some holiday classics. Who’d have thought “Silent Night” could sound great on tubas?

Free, Saturday, November 29, 2 p.m. Faneuil Hall, Boston,


—With reporting by Elizabeth Grice