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: David Heald
By Howard Halle |
Advertising

In many major cities around the world, museums are government funded, which means entry is free. Alas, this is not the case with New York City’s museums. Institutions like MoMA and the Guggenheim charge hefty admissions, and while the Metropolitan Museum of Art used to be pay what you wish for everyone, that policy is restricted now to New York State residents. Still, there are plenty of museums that are free or have free days. And there still museums with pay what you wish admission, if not every day, then on certain days weekly or monthly. You just have to know who offers what. To figure that out, check our guide to the best free museums and discount hours at NYC’s museums.

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

Advertising
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

Advertising
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

Advertising
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

Advertising
9
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

10
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

Advertising
11
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? Remeber, 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

12
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

Advertising
13
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

14
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

Advertising
15
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

16
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

Advertising
17
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

18
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

Looking for more museums in NYC?

Advertising