Three free art exhibits to get you to spring

It’s cold out, but you can’t stay indoors for weeks or months until it gets warm. Brave a few minutes of cold between home and these exhibitions, though, and at least it will cost nothing to be impressed, unsettled and edified – or at least kept warm with something more than Netflix to look at. These exhibitions are accessible from public transportation in addition to being free, making them ideal for a break from work or as part of a day shopping, dining or running errands in Porter or Harvard squares.

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‘Beastiary,’ by Jodi Colella

Through Feb. 5

Reminiscent of the medieval bestiaries that assigned symbolic virtues and vices to different species, Colella transforms children’s toys to address themes of identity, loss and consumer culture with unnerving results. Looking at a stuffed turtle toy with wires exploding from its mouth or “Birdman,” which puts the dried head of a real bird atop a body of cherry pink flowers, “simultaneously projects discomfort and the urge to cuddle,” Colella says. The collection can be seen from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and by appointment at Maud Morgan Arts’ Chandler Gallery, 20 Sacramento St., in the Agassiz neighborhood between Porter and Harvard squares.

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‘Directions’

Running Feb. 4-28

For a survey of the talent working and teaching locally, “Directions” showcases and teaching at Lesley University’s adjunct faculty in animation and motion media, design, fine arts, illustration and photography, and it will all be up at the shining new Lunder Arts Center – worth a look on its own, especially given the thought put into display of the art that flows through. “Our adjuncts are established and working artists who have professional careers in addition to their teaching at our College of Art and Design,” says Bonnell Robinson, the university’s director of exhibitions. “The show will feature an impressive array of painting, mixed media, photography, video and animation, sculpture, ceramics and textile art.” (The photography of Dana Mueller is shown above.) There will be an artists’ reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 11, but starting Feb. 4 the show can be visited from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday (Thursdays close at 8 p.m.) or from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday between Feb. 4-28 in the Roberts and Raizes galleries of Lesley University’s Lunder Arts Center, 1801 Massachusetts Ave., Porter Square.

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‘Opening New Worlds’

Now through March

Hand-drawn maps, scientific calculations and brightly colored drawings of New England, as well as diary entries, letters to family and last will and testaments are among the primary source documents Harvard is displaying during its multiyear Colonial North American Project, which digitizes and shares online images of all Harvard archive and manuscript materials relating to 17th- and 18th- century North America. There are some gems here, such as personal letters written by a teenage John Hancock and firsthand accounts of the origins of the American Revolution by John and Hannah Winthrop, a Harvard math professor and his wife. The documents will be online, sure, but there’s something breathtaking about looking directly at 250-year-old parchment with peeks at social life, politics, revolution, war, women, Native American life, slavery, science, medicine and religion. Visit from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Lammot du Pont Copeland Gallery in Harvard’s Pusey Library near Harvard Square. (Pusey is the modern structure below ground level between the more traditional looking, aboveground Widener and Houghton libraries in Harvard Yard, and it’s best reached through gates from either Massachusetts Avenue or Quincy Street.)

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