In the dog days of summer, most of Boston will either be heading for the beach, or hunting down some air conditioning. So in lieu of sitting in Starbucks all day drinking $5 lattes just so you don’t melt, head to one of the city’s many arts and cultural institutions, where you can learn something new… while staying cool.

The Heavy Hitters:

Institute of Contemporary Art: Get educated with a little sculpture at the ICA. Through Sept. 7, take a look at “Arlene Shechet: All at Once,” which features the sculptor’s polymorphic sculptures made from plaster, ceramic, paper pulp and glass. If thumping beats are more of your speed, hit up one of the ICA’s summer performances in their Wavelengths series, featuring acts like Mykki Blanco and Lucius. (100 Northern Ave., Boston)

Museum of Fine Arts: Ditch the magazines and check out models like Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell up close. Head to the MFA all summer long to check out this collection of pieces by legendary fashion photographer Herb Ritts. (465 Huntington Ave., Boston)

Massachusetts College of Art and Design: Through July 11, head to MassArt to check out the Third Biennial Juried Alumni Exhibition: “Above the Fold: Alumni Works in Design.” You’ll see creations from the school’s grads ranging from skateboard decks to traditional paintings. (Bakalar & Paine Galleries, 621 Huntington Ave., Boston)

Take a History Lesson:

Boston Center for Adult Education: Want an inside look at Boston history? Sign up for one of the BCAE’s six classes in the series “Rarely Seen: Boston’s Historic Treasures,” running from July 23 to Aug. 26. You’ll get to peer inside some of the city’s lesser-known historical sites, like the Gibson House Museum, The Otis House, and the Massachusetts Historical Society. (122 Arlington St. Boston) 

Museum of World War II: History nerds of the world unite. Head to the Museum of WWII to check out over 7000 artifacts and 500,000 documents and letters at the largest collection of WWII items in the world. The current exhibit, “The Day the World Changed – Hitler Attacks, Churchill Rises from the Ashes of Appeasement,” runs through Sept. 1. (8 Mercer Rd. Natick)

Hands On:

Lawn on D: The D Street ArtLAB has seven different exhibits on display throughout the summer, but be sure to pop by from July 9 to 12 to check out Intrude, a temporary outdoor installation featuring giant illuminated white rabbits created by artist Amanda Parer. (420 D St. Boston)

Paint Nite: If trying to paint a vase of flowers doesn’t strike your fancy, maybe attempting to portray a live nude male model does. On June 28, Paint Nite invites you to explore your artistic side at this two-hour group class. (Davis Square Theatre, 255 Elm St. Somerville)

For the Financially Challenged:

If your wallet’s a little light, you don’t have to miss out on all the fun. Thanks to the Highland Street Foundation, you can bypass admission fees to seven different cultural institutions every Friday as part of the “Free Fun Fridays” series. Options change weekly and include the Peabody Essex Museum, the Old State House, and the Museum of African American History. For complete listings, head to www.highlandstreet.org.