Free -- or "Pay What You Can" -- Admission Days at Museums, Zoos and Planetariums
The price of admission to many museums has become so expensive that many people on a tight budget aren't able to see the many treasures these museums hold.
That's why many museums, zoos and planetariums have a "free admission day" once a week, once a month, or even once a year. Other museums have a day when they will accept any amount a patron wishes to pay.
How to Locate Free Museum Admissions ANYWHERE
We have put together just a few examples of these "free" or "pay what your can" admission days to show you that it's possible to get free or reduced admission to even the largest museums.
However, there are many thousands of museums in the United States... and indeed all over the world... and many of them do have free or 'pay what you can' days.
To locate free or 'pay what you can' admissions in YOUR area or any city you plan to visit, go to Google.com and search on "free museum day" or "free museum admision" and the name of your city or town. This is a bit easier than going to the museum's website and hunting around for an often 'hidden' mention of free or pay what you can days.
Free Museum Day Directory
FreeMuseumDay.org offers a way to search for the current months free museum days in the following major US cities:
San Francisco Bay Area
You can also follow them on Facebook and on Twitter.
Some Examples of Free Museum Admissions
Please note that the days and hours of free museum days can change from time to time, or even be discontinued, so please check with the museum for current information before you plan to visit. Also, the webpage we've referenced can change as well, so if you reach at 'not found', try doing the Google search we've mentioned above as these listings are here primarily for 'examples' as there are so many museums that it's not possible to keep up with all changes.
Carnegie Art Museum (Oxnard) Free Family Day
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Admission is free for all members AND
- For kids under 18, plus one accompanying adult, through NexGen membership
- After 3 pm for LA county residents Mon–Fri
- On the second Tuesday of each month
- On select federal holidays, sponsored by Target
- Martin Luther King, Jr Day
- Presidents Day
- Memorial Day
MOCA The Museum of Contemporary Art
Wells Fargo Free Thursdays: Admission is free for all MOCA venues every Thursday, 5-8pm.
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
"...Most months we offer free admission on the first Tuesday, except In July and August, so that we can avoid overcrowding and maintain a quality visitor experience. In their place, we have expanded the program in the month of September, and now offer 13 Free Tuesdays a year..."
Page Museum at La Brea Tar Pits
"...Free general admission on the first Tuesday of every month, except July and August." Admission is also always free to members and children 5 and under.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Chase Free Thursday Evenings 5 – 8 pm
UCLA Hammer Museum
- Every Thursday for all visitors
- Hammer and Fowler Museum members
- Students with ID
- UC faculty and staff
- Military personnel, veterans and their families
- Kids under 17-years-old accompanied by an adult
- International Council Of Museums (ICOM) members
- American Alliance of Museums (AAM) members
- Golden State Advantage EBT card holders
- Museum employees
L. A. Museums with Ongoing Free Admissions
Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum and Galleries
Hollywood Bowl Museum "..open every night before concerts - and daytime all year round."
The Getty Center "...presents the Getty's collection of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present against a backdrop of dramatic architecture, tranquil gardens, and breathtaking views...." Admission to the Getty Villa is always FREE; an advance, timed-entry ticket is required. Parking is $15.
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
Free Admission: "First Free Sundays
Courtesy of Target, general museum admission is free every first Sunday of the month. Additional entrance fees apply to special exhibitions."
SFUSD students are always free. Reduced Admission: Thursday evenings after 5, price of admission is $5. See "Special Museum Nights" Alternatively, enjoy free admission with the Go San Francisco Card or with a CityPass.
Bay Area Discovery Museum "... free on the first Wednesday of each month for a full day of creative and fun experiences for all."
Berkely Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive "First Impressions: Free First Thursdays at BAM/PFA Free admission to the galleries, public programs, and a 5:30 PFA screening, the first Thursday of every month."
California Academy of the Sciences Free on selected Sundays.
Chinese Historical Society of America "Free to the public on the first Thursday of every month"
Oakland Museum of California "Admission is free the first Sunday of every month.... made possible in part by Wells Fargo."
The Mexican Museum Free family Sundays
Miami Art Museum
- Admission is FREE every Second Saturday of the month. Explore the museum, learn something new and create art with family during this fun-filled afternoon at the Museum. Second Saturdays are Free for Families is presented by MetLife Foundation.
- Admission is free to those who present a Miami-Dade Library Museum Pass.
- Admission is free to Mother's on Mother's Day.
Museum of Contemporary Art - North Miami
Free admission for:
Children under 12
North Miami Residents
Bank of America cardholders on the first weekend of each month through the Museums on Us program.
Free and Discounted Admission Days for Chicago Museums, Zoos, Planetariums and Aquariums
Art Institute of Chicago
" Admission to the Art Institute of Chicago is free to Illinois residents every Thursday from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m."
Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art
"Admission is FREE for Illinois residents on Tuesdays year round."
Chicago Childrens Museum
Target Free First Sunday: First Sunday of every month
Free admission all day for ages 15 and under.
Groups of 15 or more must register by calling (312) 464-8249.
Kraft Free Family Night: Thursday evenings, 5 – 8pm
Free admission for everyone.
Groups of 15 or more must register by calling (312) 464-8249.
Museum of Science and Industry Illinois residents receive a number of free scheduled days each year.
Shedd Aquarium Discount days provide free admission to Illinois residents. Member of Bank of America's first weekend "Us" program with an upgradeable mini-pass.
Chicago Museums Which Always Have Free Admission
Lincoln Park Zoo Free 365 days a year.
National Museum of Mexican Art Always free.