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The Best Free Museums to Visit in NYC

April 23, 2020 6 min read No Comments

Around New York you hear on the street that things can get expensive and quick. So, if you are wanting to explore around your great city or you are traveling to the Big Apple it is always nice to be able to save some money whenever it is possible while being able to explore and learn about New York, the cultural diversity and the history that has created this great city.

1.  Asia Society

The Asia Society was founded in 1956 to be a nonprofit, unprejudiced educational institute that are spread around the world. The Asia Society believes in supporting and strengthening partnerships among people in the fields of art, business, culture, and education. The museum is free on Friday evenings from 6-9pm.

2. Brooklyn Museum

The Brooklyn Museum was founded 1823 by Augustus Graham who was an apprentice in the with the Brooklyn Library Association in Brooklyn Heights and was later moved to the building on Washington Street in 1841. The general admission is free for members and anyone 19 and under. There are also special dates throughout the year where your entire family can enjoy the Brooklyn Museum for free!

3. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum is one of the nineteen museums that fall under the Smithsonian institute in New York City which is dedicated the last 240 years of design, aesthetic and creativity. There is so much to see and there is always a traveling exhibition on display. Any guests under the age of 18 can enter for free any day of the museum or you can become a member and enter any of the Smithsonian museums for free all week!

4. El Museo del Barrio

The El Museo del Barrio is a museum that is dedicated to the preservation of the art and culture of Puerto Rico and all Latin Americans in the United States. There are large exhibitions displaying the bilingual programs, education programs and activities for the general public. This museum was founded nearly 50 years ago by both artist and educator Raphael Montanez Ortiz who saw that throughout larger mainstream museums didn’t give as much attention and dedication to Latino artists as they did other ethnic artists. Admission to this unique museum is free for members and children 12 and under. The admission is a two-for-one deal, with your admission you also get a free admission pass to the Museum of the City of New York.

5. The Frick Collection

The Frick Collection was assembled by the native Pittsburgh industrialist, Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919) which is housed in his home on fifth Avenue, this also is one of New York’s last remaining Gilded Age mansions. Some of the great masterpieces from artists like Bellini, Rembrandt, Vermmer, Boya, Whistler. This is a museum that asks all patrons are above the age of 10 years old. There are special free days that are dispersed throughout the year but the average admission ticket is $22.

6. The Jewish Museum

This beautiful museum is located on New York City’s museum mile, founded in 1094 this museum was the first of its kind in the United States and is one of the oldest Jewish museums in the world. This museum was deigned to preserve the history and culture of the Jewish cultures, not only in the United States but worldwide from the last 5,000 years. To correlate with Judaism, Saturday is a day of rest called the Sabbath, so because of this the Jewish Museum is free of admission on Saturdays and most of the major Jewish holidays including Passover, Shavuot, Sukkont, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. If you didn’t want to take the family to the museum on a Saturday, you can also go to the museum for free if you are 18 and under and on Thursdays from 5-8pm it is a “pay what you wish” scale.

7. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art or “the Met” was founded in 1870 with the purpose to bring art and education to the American people and was finally opened in 1872. The Met was recently named the “Fourth most visited art museum in the world” has the policy of “pay what you wish” for nearly 50 years. This policy was created for everyone but early in 2018 New York City institution has changed the policy to continue for New York residents, students from Connecticut and New Jersey but tourists will be required to pay the suggested entrée fee. Your admission ticket however isn’t just for the “Met” you get a three day pass to The Met Fifth Ave, The Met Breuer and the Cloisters.

8. The Morgan Library & Museum

Photo from: http://www.themorgan.org/morgan-connected

In 1924 J.P. Morgan Jr. gave his father’s massive library collection to the city to be shared with the world. Pierpont Morgan was a known collector of literature, collecting rare books, drawings, prints manuscripts and artifacts. So, if visiting a huge library is going to fill your heart with joy than this is the place for you to visit! You can walk around the museum and library for free on Fridays from the hours of 7pm and 9pm, children 12 and under are always free to visit as long as they are accompanied by an adult.

9. National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is dedicated to developing the knowledge and understanding of Native cultures in the Western Hemisphere, their history, present and the possibility of the future. A fascinating and interactive museum that teaches your hands-on cultural experiences that are unique to each Native culture found throughout the Western Hemisphere. The admission to this museum is totally free and is open daily from 10 AM-5 PM.

10. Queens Museum

Photos for: www1.nyc.gov/events/queens-museum-reopening/8531/1

Queens Museum is purely dedicated to presenting the best visual arts and educational programs for the people of New York and celebrate the unique diversity of Queens with the ethnic, international and cultural communities. All of the pricing is a suggested listing, this museum is ran off of donations and grants so they appreciate the contributions but you can enter the museum for free.

11. American Folk-Art Museum

The American Folk-Art museum has been curating exhibits that shapes minds since 1961. Many of the top curators in the museum have started from a self-taught position and have developed it to something more. Located in the heart of Lincoln Square and is open Tuesday through Sunday and the best part, the admission is free to everyone every day!

12. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Photo from: http://www.dezeen.com/2016/04/26/museum-of-modern-art-moma-issues-letter-architecture-design-galleries-not-closing/

Everyone knows the MoMa, or the Museum of Modern Art, this is where the Western world celebrates the world of creativity generosity, openness and tolerance in art, culture, social and political. The Museum of Modern Art opens their doors to the public for free visitation every Friday night from 4-8pm, these are called UNIQLO Free Fridays. If you want to visit the MoMA during the rest of the week or over the weekend and want to save some money, there are student and discount fares you can find but the best thing is to become a member so admission is free.


The things I love the most...Wine, traveling, and photography! Join me on my adventures as I travel the world and share my experiences as I travel with my daughter, top places to visit and how to travel on a budget!

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The Backpacker Mom

Hey there! I'm Phylicia, but you probably know me as "The Backpacker Mom." As a passionate wine educator and travel blogger, my daughter and I embark on exciting adventures around the world, sipping wine and creating unforgettable memories together. Join us on our wonderful adventures around the globe! Read More Here

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