It seems like everything that’s fun to do and explore costs money.
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Except that there are probably plenty of activities and places to visit that don’t cost a penny – you just haven’t discovered them yet!
It’s always fun to find new things to do with friends and family – or even yourself – but it’s even better when you don’t have to pay anything to have a good time.
That’s why this guide is all about helping you find amazing museums and art galleries that are completely free, either all the time or on specific days of the week.
Are There History and Art Museums Near Me for Free or Cheap?
Yes! There absolutely are.
No matter what area of the country you live in or what large cities you’re near, there’s likely a free museum or two.
Some of these museums offer 100% free admission, no matter what days or times you visit.
And that free admission is for everyone, not just seniors, young children, or veterans.
Other museums let you in for free during slower days or time slots, which still gives you some time to enjoy the place without paying a bunch of money to get in.
You can always search Google with phrases like “free museums within 50 miles of me,” but Google doesn’t always have information for every single museum that’s out there.
The list below, however, is one that we’ve curated from our own research on the web and experts who live in each area to make it easier for you to know what’s available without spending your time scouring search engines.
Free Museums Near Me
We’ve broken this list down into 16 top cities across the United States so that you can easily find the free museums closest to you.
Don’t forget to bookmark this guide for future reference to use when you travel, too!
Free Museums in New York City, NY
9/11 Memorial and Museum – Step back in time to 2001 to learn more about 9/11 and its aftermath. It’s free on Tuesdays for a limited number of people.
American Folk Art Museum – This museum celebrates folk art in America and is free for everyone whenever it’s open.
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BRIC – This events and art center has free admission, although some events may have a fee.
Brooklyn Children’s Museum – Get your kids out and about with hands-on experiences at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Thursdays from 2 to 6 PM and Sundays from 4 to 7 PM have pay-as-you-wish admission.
Brooklyn Museum – On the first Saturday of the month, you can enter during certain hours for free.
International Center of Photography – Admission to this photography-focused museum is by donation only on Thursdays from 5 to 9 PM.
Museum at Eldridge Street – This restored synagogue is now home to this museum, which has “Pay What You Wish” Mondays.
Museum of Arts and Design – Check out gorgeous art at this museum that’s free for ages 18 and under.
Museum of Chinese in America – Visitors with disabilities and their caretakers may enter this museum for free at any time on any day.
Museum of Jewish Heritage – This museum offers free admission to Holocaust survivors, military members, and first responders.
Museum of Modern Art – Friday evenings cost nothing from 4 to 8 PM.
National Museum of the American Indian – Free admission for all to this museum that’s an important part of American history.
New Museum – This museum’s focus is on contemporary art. Come on Thursday evenings for pay-what-you-wish admission.
New York Hall of Science – This hands-on science center sometimes has free hours of admission on specific days. You can call the center to learn more.
New York Historical Society Museum & Library – Kids 4 and under are always free to this museum, but anyone can get in with a suggested donation on Fridays from 6 to 8 PM.
Queens County Farm Museum – During regular hours and days, this farm museum is free to the public.
Rubin Museum of Art – Explore the gorgeous art exhibits here every Friday from 6 to 10 PM for free.
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture – This free library is dedicated to all things black culture.
The Bronx Museum of the Arts – All ages can get into this art museum for free on any day.
The Frick Collection – Every Wednesday from 2 to 6 PM, visitors can choose how much they want to pay to get in.
The Hispanic Museum & Library – Learn more about Hispanic heritage in this dedicated museum and library that offers free admission to all.
The Jewish Museum – Saturdays are free all day for everyone here.
The Morgan Library & Museum – This museum has free admission on Fridays for specific hours, and its library has free admission on specific days and times listed on the website.
The Museum of Moving Image – Explore the technology of moving images at this museum, which offers free Friday evening admission and costs nothing for children 3 and under.
Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace – Explore the childhood home of this former president with no admission costs.
Van Cortlandt House Museum – All Wednesdays are free, or you can donate as much as you want to enter. Every day is free for children 12 and under.
Free Museums in Boston, MA
Boston Athenaeum – Children 12 and under always get in free, but you can check the website for occasional events that are free for all.
Harvard Museum of Natural History – Several people can get into this museum for free! Massachusetts teachers, Harvard students, Harvard members, and residents with EBT cards all get in at no cost.
Institute of Contemporary Art – ICA university members get in at no cost, as well as any youth 18 and under, and anyone who visits on Thursday from 5 to 9 PM.
MIT Museum – Visit this place for no cost on the last Sunday of the month from September to June.
Museum of Bad Art – Check out “bad” art at this place, which is always free to get in.
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Museum of Fine Arts Boston – When you pay to get into this fine arts museum, you’ll automatically get a free visit within 10 days.
The Massachusetts History Museum – Admission is always free here.
The Plumbing Museum – Learn all about plumbing and water fixtures at this dedicated gallery, which has free parking and free admission.
USS Constitution Museum – You can view this ship for free, but the museum does welcome donations.
Free Museums in Philadelphia, PA
Fireman’s Hall Museum – There is no cost to enter and browse this museum, but donations are always accepted and appreciated.
Independence Hall National Historical Park – You need tickets to visit here, but they’re free as long as you get them from the information center on the morning of your visit.
Liberty Bell Center – View the beautiful Liberty Bell at its resting place and other historical exhibits for free.
Polish American Cultural Center – Learn about Polish culture and history and enjoy free admission when it’s open.
Rodin Museum – Admission is always free, but the museum does have some suggested donation prices for those who don’t mind paying.
Science History Museum – It’s free admission to this science center every day, Tuesday through Saturday, during open hours.
The United States Mint at Philadelphia – Take a free, self-guided tour of the Philadelphia Mint to see how coins are made first-hand.
Free Museums in Los Angeles, CA
California African American Museum – Programs and events at this museum are open to the public, but some parking areas have fees.
California Science Center – Explore hands-on science at this fun science center and save money by enjoying free admission to all regular, permanent exhibits.
Craft Contemporary – Explore unique crafts at this museum that showcases creativity and craftsmanship. Every Sunday is a pay-as-you-wish model.
Fowler Museum at UCLA – Admission is always free at this art gallery.
Hammer Museum – This museum is free to the public.
Japanese American National Museum – Discover Japanese American history and culture in this center, which offers free general admission on the third Thursday of every month and every Thursday during evening hours.
Kidspace Children’s Museum – Get the kids – and the whole family – in for free in this hands-on learning and play place on Tuesday evenings.
Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust – Put yourself in the shoes of those who fought through the Holocaust. This museum is free to the public.
The Getty Center – Admission to this art and architecture center is free on every open day.
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens – This center hosts free days on specific days of the month, which you can get updated information for on the website.
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County – Enter this museum for free on the first Tuesday of every month, except for July and August.
USC Pacific Asia Museum – The second Sunday of each month and Thursday evenings are free for the public to enter.
Workman & Temple Family Homestead Museum – Learn the history of these homes and their former owners at this museum, which has free guided tours on Wednesdays through Sundays.
Free Museums in San Francisco, CA
Asian Art Museum – Enjoy art from Asian culture. Ages 12 and under, military personnel, and students in the San Francisco Unified School District always get in for free.
Cable Car Museum – Learn about the cable car system that San Francisco is famous for in this museum that’s free to the public.
Chinese Historical Society of America – All students in grades K-7th get in this museum for free with a parent or guardian. California library cardholders and active military members and their families can also get in for free.
Museum Italiano Americano – Gain free admission during all open hours to this museum that celebrates Italian-American history and culture.
Museum of Craft and Design – Everyone can visit here for free on the first Tuesday of every month.
San Francisco Railway Museum – It’s always free to enter and explore this railway museum.
The Mexican Museum – Everyone gets in for free to check out this gallery of Mexican culture, art, and history.
Wells Fargo History Museum – It’s free admission to the public during all open hours at this Wells Fargo museum with hands-on exhibits.
Free Museums in Chicago, IL
Adler Planetarium – Discover space and stars at the Adler Planetarium, a popular center with hands-on exhibits and free days for the public, which you can view on the website.
Chicago Children’s Museum – Little ones will love to explore the hands-on exhibits and play areas here. And parents will love free days on the first Sunday of the month. Veterans and active military personnel can also get in for free.
Chicago History Museum – Learn about the incredible city of Chicago and what makes it what it is today in this interactive history museum. The museum has free admission days that you can learn about on its website.
DePaul Art Museum – Spend a day here browsing gorgeous art pieces for free.
Design Museum of Chicago – Everyone can get in for free to this art and design museum, which is kept free by gracious donors.
Edgewater Historical Society – Museum admission is free during open hours, but it graciously accepts any donations.
Field Museum – Illinois residents can visit the Field Museum for free on select “free days” throughout the year, which are announced on the website.
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago – Some events and days are free at this museum. You can view updated information on the website.
Museum of Contemporary Photography – This photography gallery is free to the public, but you can always send a donation to support its mission.
Museum of Science + Industry Chicago – Illinois residents can get in for free on 52 scheduled days throughout the year, which you can view on its website for an updated schedule.
National Museum of Mexican Art – Discover true Mexican art in this museum, which always has free admission.
National Veterans Art Museum – Enjoy veteran-created art in this gallery, which is free but welcomes donations.
Swedish American Museum – The second Tuesday of each month is free admission day at this museum.
Free Museums in Cleveland, OH
Children’s Museum Cleveland – This children’s museum has tons of fun stuff for kids to do, and sometimes has free days throughout the year.
Cleveland Institute of Art Reinberger Gallery – This gallery in the Cleveland Institute of Art is open to the public to enjoy for free.
Cleveland Museum of Art – This art museum is always free to the public for regular exhibit viewing.
Cleveland Police Museum – This museum pays homage to brave men and women who protect society every day. It’s always free to enjoy.
Transformer Station –Enjoy arts and culture at Transformer Station, which is open to all for free, year-round.
Free Museums in Columbus, OH
Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum – Admission to this cartoon art museum and library is 100% free.
Columbus Museum of Art – Veterans, active military personnel, and their families can get into this art gallery for free. All visitors can enter on Sundays for no charge.
Cultural Arts Center – It’s free to browse the art gallery and exhibitions here, but classes usually come with a fee, and they’re for Columbus residents only.
Historic Costume and Textiles Collection – Browse old fashion and textiles unique to the area at this gallery for free.
Ohio Craft Museum – Not only is admission free to this museum of unique crafts, but there’s also a free parking area.
Open Door Art Studio and Gallery – This studio houses new exhibitions every few months that are free to view.
Orton Geological Museum – This museum at the OSU campus is open to the public throughout the week for free.
Rivet Gallery – This designer toy and art gallery is a traveling gallery that you can check out for free at one of its locations or events.
Urban Arts Space – This gallery of urban art is always free during open hours.
Wagner-Hagans Auto Museum – You can call to get a free guided tour.
Wexner Center for the Arts – Thursdays after 4 PM and all day Sunday are free admissions at this arts center. College students and visitors under age 18 can also get in for free any day.
Free Museums in Atlanta, GA
David J. Sencer CDC Museum – This museum is the only portion of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the public can enter, and they can do so at no cost.
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta – It’s no cost to enter this museum, grab a guided tour, or take a self-guided tour.
Fernbank Science Center – Visit the planetarium and science exhibits at this fun learning center for free on any day.
Georgia Capital Museum – Get guided tours of this museum at no cost, but be sure to reserve your time in advance.
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park – This historical area takes you on the same path that Dr. King once walked, including a visit to his childhood home and his old church – all for free.
Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking – Learn all about paper and how it’s evolved throughout history at this museum at no cost.
The King Center – This museum is dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his family. Both admission and parking are free.
Free Museums in Dallas, TX
African American Museum – Children 3 and under are free to get in, and the museum sometimes offers free days for no-cost general admission.
Amon Carter Museum of American Art – Admission is always free to all at this art museum.
Crow Museum of Asian Art – There’s no cost to enter here, but donations are always appreciated from patrons.
Dallas Contemporary – This arts institution houses works from talented artists in the area and is free to the public.
Dallas Museum of Art – General admission to this art museum is free, but some special exhibits may cost extra. Children age 11 and under can enter special exhibits for free.
Latino Cultural Center – This Latino art and culture center regularly rotates exhibitions that are free to the public.
Museum of Geometric and MADI Art – Visit this unique art gallery for free or donate what you can.
Free Museums in Seattle, WA
Asian Art Museum – The first and second Thursdays and the first Saturday of the month is always free, plus seniors get an additional free day on the first Friday of the month.
Bellevue Arts Museum – You can get free admission on specific “free days” here, which you can find more information about on the website.
Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture – The first Thursday of each month is free admission all day.
Children’s Museum of Tacoma – You can pay what you want for admission to this children’s space to play and explore.
Frye Art Museum – This art center is free to browse, and you can even sign up for a self-guided or hosted tour for no cost.
Henry Art Gallery – Every Sunday is no-cost admission here from 11 AM to 4 PM.
Northwest African American Museum – Learn about African American culture in this museum that offers free admission on the first Thursday of each month.
Seattle Art Museum – You can get in for free on the first Thursday of the month. Seniors are also free on the first Friday of each month.
The Museum of Flight – Students in the Connections program can get in for free, and the museum offers free admission on the first Thursday night of each month.
The Museum of History and Industry – The first Thursday of each month is free.
Free Museums in Portland, OR
Blue Sky Gallery – This photography museum is always free to the public.
Five Oaks Museum – This museum accepts free admission for those who hold a Cultural Pass from a local library, an aide for a visitor with a disability, people who have WIC or SNAP, and other specific cases.
Friends of Portland Fire and Rescue – Explore the Belmont Firehouse for free during “Open House” Wednesdays.
Oregon Rail Heritage Center – This volunteer-run center has both free admission and parking.
Portland Art Museum – Children 17 and under are always free to view the art here.
Portland Puppet Museum – This museum of puppetry is open Thursday through Sunday and runs on donations only.
The Oregon Historical Society – Children 5 and under and Multnomah County residents never have to pay to visit here.
Free Museums in Orlando, FL
Art & History Museums Maitland – Maitland residents can get into this museum for no cost on the second Thursday of every month.
Mennello Museum of American Art – Veterans and active duty military can always get in for free, as can children under age 6. Kids 6-17 are only $1!
Orange County Regional History Center – The third Thursday of every month is free here.
Orlando Museum of Art – Veterans and active duty military personnel can always get into the museum for free.
Orlando Science Center – All Florida educators can get free admission here on any day as long as they show a valid educator license or ID.
Sanford Museum – Learn about the Sanford family and the history of the city of Sanford in this free museum.
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art – This museum hosts open house days that are free to the public. You can view a schedule of the days on the website.
The Cornell Fine Arts Museum – It’s always free admission here.
Free Museums in Nashville, TN
Cooter’s Nashville – Check out Dukes of Hazzard memorabilia at the museum and shop, which don’t cost a penny to get in.
Tennessee Agricultural Museum – It’s free admission here on Monday through Friday.
Tennessee State Museum – This museum offers no-cost admission for the general public.
Free Museums in Washington, DC
National Gallery of Art – It’s always free admission to visit this beautiful art gallery.
National Museum of African American History and Culture – There are no admission fees to enter this museum and view its exhibits.
National Museum of American History – Enter at no cost and enjoy the culture and history of America.
National Museum of Natural History – Museum and program admission is free, with the exception of some special programs and exhibits.
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum – Learn everything there is to know about the nation’s air and space travel and exploration here, which is completely free.
The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing – You can enter for free, but you may need to get a free ticket during the busy season to ensure your spot.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum – It’s 100% free on any day to visit this historical museum.
Free Museums in New Orleans, LA
1850 House – Learn about New Orleans history and the most prosperous era for the city here, which allows school groups and children six and under to enter for free.
Contemporary Arts Center – Sundays are free for the public to enter.
Diboll Gallery – View revolving art exhibitions at this gallery at no cost.
House of Dance and Feathers – There are no admission costs for this cultural museum, but charitable donations are always welcome.
Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum – Always get free admission to this museum that focuses on the history of the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans.
New Orleans Museum of Art – Anyone aged 19 and younger can enjoy this art museum for free. Healthcare workers and first responders are also free for a limited time.
The National WWII Museum – WWII veterans can always enjoy free admission to this museum, which houses tons of history, photos, and other memorabilia from the war.
The New Orleans Jazz Museum – This museum that celebrates jazz and its history in New Orleans is free for school groups and children 6 and under.
Conclusion: Find Free Museums Near You!
Wherever you are in the United States, you can find free museums to enjoy near you.
In addition to what we’ve listed in this guide, you can utilize the power of the World Wide Web to find more art galleries and museums in your area.
Still, this guide should give you an excellent starting place to find free stuff near where you live or where you’ll be traveling.
Do you know of other free museums in the areas on this list to add? Let us know down in the comments!
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