Free Museum Days in NYC, San Francisco and Los Angeles
Many parents have been there. You’ve gotten wind of a cool exhibit to check out while you’re traveling. You’ve done the research. It’s a high end museum offering something to adult sensibilities as well catering to the kiddos. You shelled out the admission price through an online ticket purchase or by standing in line in person after discovering there’s a time slot during your itinerary where you can squeeze in a visit. You walk through the doorway ticket in hand, full of anticipation, and then you aren’t able to check out anything because this is the moment your kids have chosen to fall apart!
Avoid this scenario! Timing can be a tricky thing but if you can pinpoint yours, you can visit many top museums during the year for free during free museum days!
Here are just a few you’ll want to make sure you can get to without dipping into your wallet:
Free Museum Days in New York City
- The Guggenheim Museum: An easily recognized architectural icon, this museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright houses a renowned collection of works that ranges from impressionism to contemporary art. Visitors can also enjoy lectures, performances, film screenings, classes and tours. Pop by the museum during the last two hours of business on Saturdays and you can pay what you wish to gain entrance. The last ticket is issued at 7:15 pm.
- Museum of Modern Art: Also known as the MOMA, this fine New York City museum has been one of the most influential in the modern art world. Its collection includes works of painting, sculpture, photography, architecture and design, illustrations, and electronic media. Plan your visit from 4-8 pm on Fridays and you’ll enjoy free admission.
- Whitney Museum of American Art: The Whitney is dedicated to collecting, preserving, interpreting, and exhibiting American art. It houses a full range twentieth century and contemporary American art with a particular focus on living artists. Take the kids with you when you visit, visitors ages 18 and under are always free!
Free Museum Days in San Francisco
- The California Academy of Sciences: A world-class scientific and cultural institution, the Academy is a 400,000 square foot structure in Golden Gate Park featuring an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, and a large multi-story rainforest under one roof. Enjoy the museum without paying a dime on Free Sundays, once a quarter. Tentative future dates for 2014 are: September 14 and December 7.
- The de Young Museum: A neighbor to the California Academy of Sciences, this museum showcases priceless collections of 17th through 20th century art, textile arts, and works from Africa, Oceania and the Americas. You can visit the museum free on the first Tuesday of each month. Special exhibition surcharges may apply. The museum also participates in the Blue Star Museums Program. This means that all active military personnel and their families receive free general admission from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
- Exploratorium: San Francisco’s reinvented learning laboratory, the Exploratorium is a great place to explore and tinker. It was recently relocated to from its longtime home near the Palace of Fine Arts to the city’s waterfront in order to utilize the close proximity of the San Francisco Bay in explorations and experiments. The Exploratorium is free to all during the following days each year: Groundhog Day (February), Pi Day (March), Mother’s Day (May), Engineering Day (September), and Founder’s Day (October).
- The California Palace of the Legion of Honor: Commonly shortened to “Legion of Honor,” this museum’s building is a replica of the Palais de la Legion d’Honneur in Paris. A fantastic collection of ancient and European art spanning 4,000 years is displayed in this fine arts museum. Visitors can enjoy the museum, which was completed as a memorial to California soldiers who died during World Ward I, for free during the first Tuesday of each month.
Free Museum Days in Los Angeles
- Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County: The third largest museum of its type in the U.S., the National History Museum offers an ever-expanding collection which currently consists of more than 3.5 million specimens. Free admission is offered on the first Tuesday of most months, except July and August; you can also get in free every Tuesday in September.
- Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA): Featuring one of the best permanent contemporary art collections in the country, the MOCA has over 6,800 works housed in three unique facilities: MOCA Grand Avenue, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, and the MOCA Pacific Design Center. Enjoy free admission every Thursday from 5-8 pm.
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA): Located adjacent to the La Brea Tar Pits, the LACMA is a visual feast. With more than 150,000 works in its permanent collection, this visual art museum has holdings of Asian art, Latin American art that includes contemporary artists such as Diego Riviera and Frida Kahlo; and Islamic art. Enjoy free admission on the second Tuesday of every month. Target also sponsors free admission on select holidays (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; Presidents Day; Memorial Day).
- Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits: Check out the grounds and the aromatic bubbling tar pits before going inside to see what scientists do with the fossils they find! The Page Museum is paleontology in action. Visitors can watch the processes of paleontology unfold everyday inside the glass enclosed Fish Bowl Lab. The museum also displays fossils that include saber-toothed tigers, wolves and mammoths. Get free general admission on the first Tuesday of every month, except July and August.
Should you decide to enjoy these deals, here are some tips to consider: Arrive early! Free admission days are very popular and venues can get crowded quickly. Each place also has capacity limitations so there is always the possibility that visitors can be turned away!
Find more things to do in these cities:
- Read about family vacations to New York City
- See more family activities in San Francisco
- Find other fun things to do in Los Angeles
Kristine lives in Mountain View, California, where she is the mother of a gifted girl athlete and a special needs charmer. Like almost everything in her house,…