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All the free museums days in NYC you should know about

From uptown to downtown and Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens, we’ve got all the free museum days in New York City

Photograph: Ron Amstutz
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Say it's a beautiful day (or maybe even a miserable one), and you say to yourself, I want to go see some art. Maybe it’s a specific exhibition that everyone you know is raving about at one of your favorite museums, such as The Metropolitan Museum Of Art or MoMA or the Guggenheim. Or maybe you just want to stroll through their respective collections. It’s one of the benefits of living in or visiting New York City that these institutions (and many more) are at your beck-and-call. They are, after all, among the finest in the world. There’s just one hitch: They’re pricey to get into. Unlike cities such as London or Washington, D.C., New York isn’t big on publicly funded museums, which is too bad, especially if you actually live here and have to pay most of your wages on food and rent. Most NYC museums expect you to shell out $25 bucks or more to get in, and while that doesn’t seem like a lot compared to a ticket for a Broadway show, it adds up if you’re a regular museum goer. Granted, there are senior and student discounts, and memberships that let you get in gratis—if you’re willing to pop for the annual fee. But except for New York State residents headed for The Met, where a driver's license or other ID allows you pay whatever you wish, you pretty much have to pony up to get in there, or at The Modern, the Gugg and just about every other museum in town. There is one alternative though: Most museums offer free hours or days. You just have to know where and when they are. If you don’t, no worries! We’ve got the info you need in our guide to all the free museums days in NYC you should know about.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best museums in NYC

Free museum days

1
Photograph: Courtesy the American Folk Art Museum
Museums, Art and design

American Folk Art Museum

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

AFAM has the best collection of folk, visionary and outsider art in the country. The best part? Getting in is free.

Always free

2
Museums, Special interest

Asia Society

icon-location-pin Lenox Hill

With the exception of summer months when you have to pay admission, visiting the Asia Society on it’s free day is a great way to kick off the weekend.

Friday, 6–9pm, Labor Day through June

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3
venue.ar.bronxmuseum.jpg
Museums, Art and design

Bronx Museum of the Arts

icon-location-pin The Bronx

One of NYC’s more underrated institutions, the Bronx Museum is worth a visit not only because it’s free, but also because it’s located on the borough’s historic Grand Concourse.

Always free

4
first friday
Photograph: Virginia Rollison
Art

Brooklyn Museum

The Brooklyn Museum's free First Saturdays isn’t just for looking at art. It’s also a evening of food, drinks, performances, music and dancing.

First Saturday of every month, 5–11pm

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5
cooperhewitt1
Things to do, Schools and universities

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

icon-location-pin Upper East Side

Checking out the best in design at the Smithsonian’s New York City outpost is particularly worth it when you don’t have to pay full freight.

Pay what you wish, Saturday, 6–9pm

6
elmuseodelbarrio3
Museums, Special interest

El Museo del Barrio

icon-location-pin East Harlem

From pre-Colombian artifacts to contemporary installations, El Museo covers the waterfront on Latino and Hispanic art. Taking advantage of its free day only makes a visit that much better.

Pay what you wish, third Saturday of every month, all day

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7
Frick Museum
2010 Getty Images, Neilson Barnard
Museums, Art and design

The Frick Collection

icon-location-pin Lenox Hill

The Frick Collection’s free night is a relatively recent policy, so by all means, jump at the chance to see NYC’s greatest collection of Old Masters next to the Met’s.

First Friday of every month, 6–9pm

8
Photograph: David Heald, © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 2017
Museums, Art and design

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

icon-location-pin Upper East Side

There’s nothing quite like seeing an exhibition in the Guggenheim’s breathaking rotunda designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Check out his handiwork, and all the great art in at on a evening when admission is discounted at a rate of your choosing.

Pay what you wish, Saturday, 5:45-7:45pm

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9
Photograph: Courtesy The Hispanic Society of America
Museums, Art and design

The Hispanic Society of America

icon-location-pin Washington Heights

The Hispanic Society's holdings in antiquities and Old Master paintings rivals The Met, only you don't have to pay to see them.

Always free

10
The Jewish Museum
Museums, History

The Jewish Museum

icon-location-pin Central Park

The Jewish Museum is free on Shabbos during regular hours! Go see its exhibits of contemporary art and its collection of Judaica.

Saturday, free all day

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11
Photograph: Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum Of Art
Art

The Met Breuer

icon-location-pin Lenox Hill

Okay, The Met Breuer is a great place to visit for contemporary and modern art, but unless you’re a New York State resident you’re out of when it comes to getting in at a discount. The same applies at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And even if you are a New York State resident, you’ll still need to show one of the following as proof:

-New York State driver’s license
-New York State identification card
-IDNYC
-Current bill or statement with a New York State address
-Student ID
-New York library card

Other than that, have a great time. 

Pay what you wish at ticket counter for New York State residents

12
Photograph: Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum Of Art
Museums, Art and design

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

icon-location-pin Central Park

Like it's branch The Met Breuer, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s pay what you wish policy applies to New York State residents only. But hey, it's the greatest museum in the world, right? Remember, even if if you live in New York State, you’ll need one of the following as proof:

-New York State driver’s license
-New York State identification card
-IDNYC
-Current bill or statement with a New York State address
-Student ID
-New York library card

Pay what you wish at ticket counter for New York State residents

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13
Museums, History

The Morgan Library & Museum

icon-location-pin Murray Hill

Famous drawings—by Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Picasso—and famous manuscripts—by Dickens, Poe, Twain, Steinbeck—are all part of the Morgan’s collection. Why not go see it for free?

Friday, 7–9pm

14
Museum of Arts & Design
Museums, Art and design

Museum of Arts & Design

icon-location-pin Hell's Kitchen

Couple your night taking in the latest and coolest offerings in contemprary craft and design with dining or shopping at the nearby Time Warner Center. Or just take a stroll around Columbus Circle after leaving the museum.

Pay what you wish, Thursday, 6pm–9pm

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15
MoMA Sculpture garden and design rooms
Photograph: Michael Kirby
Museums, Art and design

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

icon-location-pin Midtown West

MoMA offers not only the greatest collection of modern and contemporary art on the globe, but also a very narrow window to get in for free. So arrive early because there’s always a line. 

Friday, 4–8pm

16
101spring306momi
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nels
Museums, Movies and TV

Museum of the Moving Image

icon-location-pin Astoria

Sure, it's hard to get into movies for free, but you can at this this museum devoted to them.

Friday, 4–8pm (not for group visits)

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17
National Museum of the American Indian
Museums, Natural history

National Museum of the American Indian

icon-location-pin Financial District

This museum is offically a branch of the NMAI in Washington D.C. and thus offically an extension of the Smithsonian Institute—which is why it’s free (well, not entirely; your taxes pay for it). If you’re down in FiDi, check out its superb holdings of Native American artifacts.

Always free

18
Neue Galerie
Photograph: Courtesy Hulya Kolabas
Art

Neue Galerie New York

Klimt’s dazzling gold-flecked 1907 portrait is known as the “Viennese Mona Lisa” and is reason enough to visit the Neue Galerie, especially for free. It’s also worth the wait on line, which, unfortunately, is unavoidable

First Friday of every month, 6–8pm

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20
newmuseum4
Museums, Art and design

New Museum of Contemporary Art

icon-location-pin Lower East Side

Going to the New Museum on for a evening of bleeding-edge art makes a great after-work date. 

Pay what you wish, Thursday, 7-9pm

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21
Museums, Art and design

Queens Museum

icon-location-pin Queens

Unlike The Met, the Queens Museum is still pay what you wish for everyone, everyday. Even so, it’s suggested donation—$8, seniors and students $4—is pretty damn cheap. So go: The Panorama of the City Of New York awaits you.

Everyday is pay what you wish

22
rubin museum of art
Museums, Art and design

The Rubin Museum of Art

icon-location-pin Chelsea

Just because you're broke doesn't mean you have to miss out on the Rubin's trove of artistic treasures from Tibet and India.

Friday, 6–10pm

 

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23
Photograph: Courtesy Adjaye Associates/Cooper, Robertson & Partners
Museums, Art and design

Studio Museum in Harlem

icon-location-pin Harlem

For the next several years, the Studio Museum's regular location will be shuttered while it builds a fantastic new home for itself. In the meantime, you can check out the latest in African-American art at this temporary space without paying a cent.

Always free until 2021 at the Studio Museum in Harlem's temporary location, 429 West 127th St between Amsterdam and Convent Aves 

 

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