This city is also full of top scientists in each and every field, and between teaching classes, writing research papers and leading expeditions to the center of the earth, many drop by Gowanus's Bell House (149 7th St.) for the free lectures series Secret Science Club. Past participants have included a visual neuroscientist (what?!), an astrophysicist and the guy who discovered the bones of Lucy, our oldest ancestor.
Balance out all that scientific knowledge with some free right-brain stimulation by catching the final two weeks of programming at the West Chelsea non-profit art center X-Initiative, which caps off its year with a busy schedule of free lectures, panels, performances and screenings by artists, curators, critics and art historians. The final rush of events includes the launch party for the latest issue of North Drive Press (1/21 at 6pm) a multimedia performance by Wu Ingrid Tsang, Zackary Drucker, Mariana Marroquin and Rhys Ernst (1/28 at 8pm), and the center's closing event on February 3, a 24-hour Bring Your Own Art blowout wherein anyone and everyone is welcome to exhibit their work—or buy some on the cheap.
For a more committed (but no more expensive) arts education, enroll yourself in the irreverent Brooklyn artists'collective the Bruce High Quality Foundation's latest project, the Bruce High Quality Foundation University, whose second semester is just getting underway. Classes—like "What's a Metaphor?", "Occult Shenanigans in the 20th/21st Century" and "BTFQU Detective Agency"—are held at the school's headquarters across the street from City Hall, and at art spaces throughout the city. The open, anti-art-school format means you can join just about anytime for free, though the old-school maxim, "you'll get as much out of it as you put into it," still holds.
(photos credit: The Bruce High Quality Foundation)