Visiting a museum is one of the best things to do in NYC whether you’re interested in art, history or natural sciences. Even though it seems like a basic right for all New Yorkers, museum trips can be costly and crowded. Since we at Time Out New York always have you covered on how to experience the best of the city for less—from the best cheap eats in NYC to the best affordable apartments in NYC— we’ve compiled this list of ways to hack your favorite museum experience.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to New York attractions
Best museum hacks in NYC
New York City Explorer Pass
For first-time visitors looking to cover the most ground in a short amount of time, an all-access pass is the most cost-efficient and comprehensive option. The New York City Explorer Pass grants you access to your choice of 3-10 attractions like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building and museums like the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum (skip-the-line entry), Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Sex.
Aside from those museums that are always free, a sizable list of museums in New York have designated free days with a suggested, pay-what-you-wish policy (we encourage donating when you can!). Highlights include the MoMA on Friday from 4-8pm and the Brooklyn Museum on Saturday from 5-11pm.
Most museums offer free and reduced rates with a valid student ID. From the Museum of Modern Art to the New Museum, here’s your reward for all the late nights at the library. For students of New York City universities like NYU and Columbia, certain museums are totally free: check out NYU’s list and Columbia’s list.
This one admittedly won’t save you any money at all, but we think it’s pretty cool. Head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 8:30am (and pony up $125) for an intimate, one-of-a-kind EmptyMet tour. You’ll be experiencing 5,000 years of history all to yourself—the tour caps at 25 people—before it opens to the public for the day. What better way to start your morning than having some one-on-one time with a bunch of ancient art? As a bonus, the Met’s ticket also grants you same-day access to its contemporary art offshoot, the Met Breuer, and its charming medieval wing uptown, the Met Cloisters.