If you love nothing more than exploring a new museum on your travels, there are plenty of ways to snag free or cheap admission.
Strategies for Free & Cheap Museum Admission
- Some museums are always free, such as the trove of no-fee Smithsonian museums in Washington DC. Check the website of your destination's tourism organization for a list of free museums.
- It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but paying for an annual membership to a museum that's part of a consortium can save a lot of money in the long run. Often the annual cost of membership isn't much more than the cost of a single visit to a museum you want to support anyway. North American Reciprocal Museums (NARM) gives free admission to hundreds of reciprocal museums during regular hours; Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) nabs you free admission or discounts at more than 600 science museums; and Association of Children's Museums (ACM): provides half-price general admission for up to six people at hundreds of children's museums. The card holder must be present for discounted admission.
- Many museums offer free or cheap admission at certain times—perhaps one evening per week or one day per month. If you're visiting New York city, you can see the Old Masters in the Frick Collection in Manhattan's Lenox Hill neighborhood for free on the first Friday of the month from 6 pm to 9 pm.
- Similarly, be on the lookout for times when the entry fee is discretionary. For example, admission to the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York City normally costs $18 per adult. On Saturday evenings, however, you can pay what you wish instead of full freight.
- Check Groupon for deals and discounts to museums wherever you are. When searching in destinations you plan to visit, check the "things to do" tab.
- Bank of America cardholders get free access to scores of museums across the United States during the first full weekend of each month through the Museums on Us program. Participating venues include the The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan and the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.