39 Free Museums in NYC – Free Museum Days in NYC

A complete list of free museums in NYC

Some of the best things in life are free and so are many New York museums. Say goodbye to full-price museum tickets, because all you need to know is when to visit. Knowing about all the free museums in NYC allows you to create your perfect itinerary and save money!

There are some museums in New York that you can visit for free anytime! Others, on the other hand, offer free museum days where admission to the museum is free only on select days. For you to take advantage of those free museums in NYC, we have created a handy overview.

Still, check the museum’s website before you go!

Museums undergo renovations from time to time, so it’s worth it to assure yourself about the opening hours beforehand. Just in 2019, New York’s renowned MoMA was closed for several months due to refurbishing.

Museums in NYC that are always free

American Museum of Natural History in NYC
While some museums in NYC simply offer free admission, others offer you to “pay-what-you-wish”. This concept was invented to give museum access to a broader audience.
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Good to know

What is pay-what-you-wish?

Pay-what-you-wish offers you to choose how much you pay for your ticket.  This type of admission cannot be purchased in advance and is only available at the ticket desks. Theoretically, you could pay nothing (at most of the museums) but we ask you to at least consider making a small contribution. Some museums have a suggested minimum that serves as a great guideline on what to pay. If you really can’t afford the suggested admission, however, you can visit it for as little as a few cents.

    These Museums in NYC are always free

  1. 01

    Bronx Museum of the Arts (Wednesday - Sunday)

    Museum in Bronx
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    At the Bronx Museum of Arts you can learn all about 20th and 21st century American art. In addition, there is a very good insight into the art and design scene from Africa and Asia. Especially exciting is the overview of the creative scene in the Bronx.

  2. 02

    Museum of Arts and Design

    Museum in Midtown Manhattan
    Museum of Arts and Design
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    The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) at Columbus Circle is dedicated to contemporary crafts and design. The museum shop is fantastic and offers a range of items centered around design. Be sure to drop in at the café for a break and enjoy the fabulous view of Central Park.

    General admission is free while they renovate the galleries. This does not apply to the Taylor Swift exhibition.

  3. 03

    Brooklyn Historical Society Museum

    Museum in Dumbo
    Museum
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    Founded in the year 1863 and recently renovated, the Brooklyn Historical Society Museum allows you to learn about the rich history of Brooklyn. The library, interesting photographs, very old landscape maps, old newspapers and excerpts from family stories give you a very good overview the history and past events in Brooklyn.

  4. 04

    Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration (ferry is not free)

    Museum in Lower Manhattan
    national_museum_of_immigration_Statue_of_Liberty_and_Ellis_Island_Tour_180315142610014
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    The world-famous Immigration Museum is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and tells the story of immigrants to the USA and what happened to them after their arrival. The museum is a very impressive place, as this is where the immigrants used to arrive when they wanted to immigrate to the USA.

  5. 05

    American Folk Art Museum

    Museum in Upper West Side
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    Yekaterinburg, Russia - January 17, 2019: fragment of ancient Zapotec ceramic burial urn depicting a deity, AD 250-600
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    The American Folk Art Museum, which offers free admission, houses a collection of over 5.000 folk art and craft exhibits. One of the most well-known works is the Flag Gate, an American flag made of wood and metal.

    The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:30 AM to 6:00 PM.

  6. 06

    Federal Hall National Memorial

    Museum in Lower Manhattan
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    The Federal Hall National Memorial is situated on Wall Street and easy to spot owing to the large statue of George Washington directly in front of it. We were initially drawn to the muse- um on account of the great view of Wall Street from the steps leading up to it – perfect for photos! The Federal Hall National Memorial is of major historical significance, as this is where George Washington took his oath of office as the first president of the USA.

  7. 07

    General Grant National Memorial

    Other Attraction in Manhattan
    The General Grant National Memorial in New York City
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    One of the most prominent Morningside Heights NYC landmarks is the General Grant National Memorial. This site is North America’s largest mausoleum and the final resting place of President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia. 

    It is a beautiful place to walk around and learn about Grant’s legacy and the history of the Civil War.

  8. 08

    Hamilton Grange National Memorial

    Other Attraction in Harlem & Washington Heights
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    Hamilton Heights is famous for its beautiful early 20th-century townhouses – the Hamilton Grange National Memorial is also located here. It is the last house where the founding father of the United States lived.

    The visitor center at The Grange’s basement is open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Access to the historical section of the home is available exclusively through guided tours. These tours are free of charge, with each tour accommodating a maximum of 14 visitors.

  9. 09

    Museum of Chinese in America (MoCA)

    Museum in Chinatown
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    The Museum of Chinese in America is the place to go if you want to learn more about the Chinese culture and Chinese history in NYC. The main and permanent exhibition With a Single Step: Stories in the Making of America is a great place to find out more about the last 160 years of Chinese history in NYC. With 2+ rotating exhibitions on top of this, the MoCa is definitely worth a visit.

  10. Steffen Kneist Loving New York
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  11. 10

    National Museum of the American Indian

    Museum in Financial District
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    It shows a part of the 3 million items collected by the New York banker, Georg Gustav Heye, from the lives of American Indians. In the former U.S. Custom House on the southern tip of Manhattan, pottery, carpets and pictures of the Indians are displayed on two floors.

  12. 11

    Mmuseumm

    Museum in Tribeca
    Museum of New York
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    New York’s smallest museum and an absolute insider tip: Here a freight elevator was converted into a museum. The exhibits are treasures from all over the world that present their view of life. In short: Small miracles – more really doesn’t fit in the elevator. A view through the window is possible at any time of the day or night – but this museum is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 6 pm.

    Mmuseumm is free to the public with a suggested donation of $5. And with the donation visitors can have a paper guide with a poster of all the pieces in the exhibition.

  13. 12

    Statue of Liberty Museum (ferry is not free)

    Museum in Lower Manhattan
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    On Liberty Island, you can find the Statue of Liberty Museum. It brings some novelties to Liberty Island to make the experience around the Statue of Liberty even more exciting and interesting for the visitors. The admission to the museum is always free but you need to buy the ferry ticket to get there!

    2024 Fee-free Days (No entrance pass is required on these days):

    • Monday, January 15 — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
    • Saturday, April 20 — First Day of National Park Week
    • Wednesday, June 19 — Juneteenth
    • Sunday, August 4 — The Great American Outdoors Act
    • Saturday, September 28 — National Public Lands Day
    • Monday, November 11 — Veterans Day
  14. 13

    Queens Museum (always free)

    Museum in Flushing
    Our Highlight
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    The museum was built for the World’s Fair in 1939 and exhibits „The Panorama “ which is a large-scale model of New York City and its five neighborhoods. Many of the exhibits are documents related to the World’s Fair. Over the years, Queens Museum has housed some of the most supreme exhibitions in all of New York.

    The Queens Museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday.

  15. 14

    Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden

    Park in Staten Island
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    Staten Island, New York: Pond in the New York Chinese Scholars Garden, a walled garden built in 1998 at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden.
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    Nestled in Staten Island, this multifaceted cultural destination boasts a rich history, stunning architecture, and lush botanical gardens. Once a haven for retired sailors, Snug Harbor today serves as a vibrant center for the arts, education, and horticulture. Visitors can explore captivating museums, art galleries, performance spaces, and a myriad of beautiful gardens, making it a perfect escape for both nature enthusiasts and culture lovers alike.

    Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden’s main outdoor grounds and gardens are open 7 days a week and free of charge to the public

  16. 15

    MoMA PS1: (free with MoMA ticket)

    Museum in Long Island City
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    Everyone knows about the Museum of Modern Art, which is also known as MoMa, but very few have heard of MoMa PS1. This institution is located in Long Island City in Queens and is often overlooked by locals and tourists alike. It’s one of the largest art institutions in the US and heavily focuses on contemporary art. It was founded in 1971 and attracts over 200,000 people per year. Also, during warmer months, this museum sets up Sunday sessions with a live DJ, and is known as the PS1 Warm Up.

    If you have a MoMA ticket and present it within 14 days you will get free admission to MoMA PS1!

  17. 16

    Queens County Farm Museum

    Other Events in Queens
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    Earth Day is also about giving back to the Earth. New Yorkers and visitors to the city have a chance to do just that at Queens Farm in Queens, NY.  As one of the longest continually farmed sites in New York State (farming started in 1697), it has historic farmland that volunteers can help to preserve. These volunteer activities include sifting compost, spring clean-up in the Children’s Garden, mulching, weeding, and more.

    Queens Farm offers free general admission to individuals and families for 354 days of the year, except special admission days.

     

  18. Free museums in NYC on select days

    While some museums always let you visit free of charge, others offer free museum days. That means the museum specified a day or even a time when you can visit the museum for free. Most of the time, there’s a difference between free and pay-what-you-wish, so we have grouped the museums according to whether the admission is completely free or whether you can decide how much you want to pay.

    If a museum offers pay-what-you-wish on select days, be sure to get there at least 30 minutes ahead of time!

    Free museums in NYC on Mondays

  19. 17

    Free admission to the 9/11 Museum (Mondays 5:30 - 7:00 PM)

    Museum in Financial District
    Our Highlight
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    The 9/11 Memorial Museum is located at the 9/11 National Memorial and is probably one of the most emotional museums in New York. It is mostly located underground and displays debris from the former Twin Towers in addition to many of the personal belongings of those buried. Among them are fire trucks deformed by heat, a part of the antenna of the North Tower, a scorched elevator motor, the saving stone staircase (Survivor’s Staircase) as well as remains of sidewalks, street signs, bicycles and baby carriages that were in front of the World Trade Center.

    Tickets for Free Admission Monday will be released on the website every Monday, starting at 7 a.m. ET, and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

  20. Free museums in NYC on Thursdays

  21. 18

    Brooklyn Children's Museum (free from 2 pm to 5 pm)

    Museum in Dumbo
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    The Brooklyn Children’s Museum was founded in 1899 and was the first museum developed only for kids. With many permanent exhibitions and attractions, there is always something to see or do here. Overall, it’s a great place for family outings with the young ones. Children are encouraged to play and experience numerous activities and exhibitions.

    Every Thursday from 2 pm to 5 pm, you can enjoy free admission to the Museum, courtesy of Amazon. You have the option to reserve tickets in advance online or obtain them on the day of your visit at BCM.

  22. 19

    Museum of Jewish Heritage (admission is free on Thursdays between 4-8 pm)

    Museum in Battery Park City
    museum_of_jewish_heritge.jpg170803180050018
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    Another highlight located in the beautiful Battery Park, is the Museum of Jewish Heritage. “A living memorial to the Holocaust” is the slogan of the museum and aptly reflects what this museum is all about. The star-shaped granite building tells the story of the Jewish heritage but above all a detailed depiction of life in concentration camps.

  23. 20

    Museum of the Moving Image from 2 pm to 6 pm

    Museum in Astoria
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    In Astoria you should definitely check out the Kaufman Astoria Film Studios, which was declared a National Historic Landmark in the late 1970s due to their importance to New York City. This complex also includes the Museum of the Moving Image and the Astor Room restaurant.

    The Museum of the Moving Image opened in 1988 and is the only museum in the United States that is dedicated to exploring media art, history and technology. It’s recognized as a major internationally known institution as well.

  24. Free museums in NYC on Fridays

  25. 21

    Rubin Museum (6 - 10 pm)

    Museum in Chelsea
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    For three decades, New Yorkers Shelley and Donald Rubin have been collecting Buddhist art, mandalas, and meditation images here. The exhibitions of contemporary Asian artists are very impressive.

    The Rubin Museum of Arts is FREE every Friday from 6:00 – 10:00 PM. Also, seniors have free admission every first Thursday of the month.

  26. 22

    Intrepid Museum of Sea, Air & Space (May 31, 2024, from 5 pm to 9 pm)

    Museum in Hell's Kitchen
    Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
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    The Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum is the only floating museum in NYC. You will find a wide array of historically significant military and maritime vehicles as well as a collection of museum ships on this aircraft carrier which is docked on the Hudson River. This is great for kids and adults alike as it discusses and shows a wide variety of artifacts regarding the US military and maritime history.

    Tip: Free Friday with Movie Night is back! Mark your calendars for these dates:

    • June 28, 2024 | 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
    • July 26, 2024 | 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
    • August 23, 2024 | 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
  27. 23

    Morgan Library and Museum: Every Friday 5-7 pm

    Museum in Murray Hill
    Morgan_Library___Museum_200227200601001
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    The museum is famous for its collections of European masters, such as Dürer, Picasso, Rubens and Leonardo. But also drawings by Michelangelo, original handwritten music pieces by Beethoven and Mozart are part of the collection.

  28. 24

    Neue Galerie (First Friday of the month, from 5 pm to 8 pm)

    Museum in Upper East Side
    180619143755001
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    On the traces of German and Austrian art you can discover a lot here: The first floor is dedicated to Austrian art of the early 20th century with works by Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka, among others. The second floor is devoted to German, mainly expressionist, art of that era. Impressive works by Paul Klee, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Otto Dix and Wassily Kandinsky are just a few of the treasures of the new gallery.

  29. 25

    Poster House

    Museum in Chelsea
    Poster House Art Museum NYC
    Photo by Stephanie Powell
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    Poster House, a neighborhood poster museum in New York, presents the impact, culture, and design of posters as historical documents and methods of contemporary visual communication. It was founded in 2015 with an eye towards filling a long-acknowledged gap in the New York cultural landscape. 

    Poster House is an ambitious, forward-thinking institution with an amazing story to tell. It brings special events in an engaging, interactive, educational and fun way.

  30. Free museums in NYC on Saturdays

  31. 26

    Brooklyn Museum (1st Saturday of the month, 5-11 pm)

    Museum in Park Slope
    210205090431001_Brooklyn_Museum
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    The Brooklyn Museum opened its doors to the public in 1897. Measuring around 560,000 square feet, the Brooklyn Museum, located in Park Slope is the second-largest art museum in the United States. You’ll have plenty of space to explore during your visit and the museum features a massive collection of over 1.5 million objects displayed throughout the five floors.

    Many events are held at the Brooklyn Museum as well such as fashion shows.

  32. 27

    Jewish Museum

    Museum in Upper East Side
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    The Jewish Museum is more than 100 years old and contains an impressive collection of art and religious exhibits from the past 4,000 years. With 27,000 exhibits, the museum’s significance is the most unique in the United States for the Jewish community and people of all cultural backgrounds.

  33. Free museums in NYC on Sundays

  34. 28

    Whitney Museum of American Art (all day on the second Sunday of the month)

    Museum in Meatpacking District
    whitney_museum_170314171556002
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    Newly opened in 2015, the Whitney Museum in New York shines in a whole new light. The Whitney Museum has one of the most spectacular collections of contemporary art that focuses on American art of the 20th and 21st centuries. Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, and Robert Rauschenberg are just a few of the names whose paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, and installations are part of the exhibits at the Whitney Museum. More than 21,000 works of art are permanently showcased here. The museum is located in The Meatpacking District in Manhattan.

    Tip: Admission is also FREE free from 5 to 10 pm every Friday!

  35. Pay What You Wish – Admission to Museums in NYC

  36. 29

    Museum at Eldridge Street (Monday & Friday)

    Museum in Lower East Side
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    The museum tells the story of the Jewish history of the area. Here you can get a good overview of the background of the life of Jewish immigrants. On Mondays and Fridays, the museum offers a pay-what-you-wish admission.

  37. 30

    New Museum of Contemporary Art (Thursday from 7 pm to 9 pm)

    Museum in Lower East Side
    new_museum_of_contemporary_art
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    The New Museum of Contemporary Art is worth a visit for its architecture alone. Its contemporary art exhibitions are among the best in the world. Founded in 1977, the New Museum of Contemporary Art building was designed by the Japanese architectural firm SANAA and is one of the most striking buildings in NYC.

    During Pay-what-you-wish-hours, you decide how much you want to pay for admission but the minimum is $2.

  38. 31

    Frick Collection (Thursdays from 4 pm - 6pm)

    Museum in Upper East Side
    Frick Collection in New York
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    Beautifully situated at the southern end of the Museum Mile is the art museum: „The Frick Collection“. The villa in Central Park was once the home of Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919), a wealthy industrialist and art collector who, after his death, opened his prestigious residence to the public as a museum.

    Good to know: At the moment the building is being renovated (until 2023). During this time you can see the exhibit in the former Met Breuer Building. It is now called „Frick Madison“ and is located at 945 Madison Avenue.

    You can choose your admission fee during Pay-What-You-Wish hours, which are on Thursdays from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Additionally, The Frick provides various free public programs, available both online and in person. Please check their calendar for upcoming free program registration.

  39. 32

    New York Historical Society Museum (Fridays, 6 - 8 pm)

    Museum in Upper West Side
    Museum_170423115755026
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    The New York Historical Society Museum was founded in 1804 and is therefore the oldest museum in NYC.

    On Fridays from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, you can pay what you wish for admission.

  40. 33

    Guggenheim Museum (Saturdays from 5 pm to 8 pm)

    Museum in Upper East Side
    Our Highlight
    Guggenheim Museum
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    First off, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is an architectural masterpiece. Second, but most importantly, it is the permanent home of a large collection of art named after its founder. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright the bizarrely shaped building is one of the most famous in NYC. Not only is the outside spectacular, but it is constantly expanding its permanent collection. Also, many special exhibitions have been showcased here throughout the years. It is definitely worth a visit!

    On Saturdays, from 5 to 8 pm, you have the flexibility to pay what you wish for admission. While a suggested donation of $10 is recommended, the minimum amount accepted is $1. It’s advisable to make reservations, although a limited number of tickets can also be obtained on-site during the pay-what-you-wish hours.

  41. 34

    Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

    Museum in Upper East Side
    Cooper_Hewitt_New__york_181004111227017
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    The Smithsonian has one of the largest collections for design and art worldwide. For art and design lovers alike this museum is an excellent choice! It is NYC’s answer to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK.

    The Museum offers pay-what-you-wish admission every day from 5:00 to 6:00 PM.

  42. 35

    Museum of the City of New York

    Museum in Upper East Side
    Museum_170423115755026
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    A great museum to find out more about the city of New York. Get an exciting look into the history of the Big Apple and find out more through a variety of pictures, paintings, clothing, toys, and books.

    The suggested admission is $20 but you decide how much you want to pay. The entry is FREE for everyone younger than 20 years.

  43. 36

    El Museo del Barrio

    Museum in Upper East Side
    museu_del_bairro_190128122402011
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    El Museo del Barrio NYC is right at the north end of the Museum Mile and exhibits everything to do with art and culture from Latin America. After its expensive renovation in 2009, the museum is better than ever and offers its visitors a collection of over 6500 artifacts, as well as many permanent and special exhibitions alike.

    The suggested admission fee is $9 but you decide how much you want to pay. Children under 12 are FREE.

  44. Free museums in NYC for residents (or pay-what-you-wish-admission)

  45. 37

    NY, NJ & CT residents: Pay what you wish at the American Museum of Natural History

    Museum in Upper West Side
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    The American Museum of Natural History is one of the more popular museums in NYC. If the name sounds recognizable it’s because the museum was the center of attention in the movie, Night at the Museum featuring Ben Stiller. Regardless of its Hollywood fame, the Natural History Museum is a huge institution that features numerous exhibits. This is a great place for families with kids so they can learn about the world’s geography, plants, different animal species, and many other things.

    The American Museum of Natural History is located on the Upper West Side in Manhattan and is the largest natural history museum in the world.

    There is a Pay-what-you-wish-admission for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut residents at the American Museum of Natural History!

  46. 38

    Museum of Modern Art: 1st Friday of the Month (NYC residents)

    Museum in Midtown Manhattan
    Our Highlight
    Museum of Modern Art MoMA in NYC
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    The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) was founded in 1929 and was the first museum that completely focused its collection on modern art. The huge museum went through an impressive renovation and reopened in 2004 by architect, Yoshio Taniguchi. Then in MoMa went through another round of renovations and reopened in October of 2019. It is definitely one of the most impressive museums in NYC. It’s one of the largest and most influential museums with its collection of modern art.

  47. 39

    Metropolitan Museum of Art (The MET)

    Museum in Upper East Side
    Our Highlight
    Metropolitan Museum of Art
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    A visit to the Metropolitan Museum in New York (The MET) is more than just an ordinary visit to an art museum. With more than 2 million artworks that span more than 5,000 years, visitors will soon realize this institution is very special. Exhibits are spread out over 2,000,000 square feet of floor space. That makes it the largest art museum in the United States. The museum is a must-visit and is perfect for families with kids. The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents the best of art history from around the world.

    There is a pay-what-you-wish-admission for New York State residents and students from NY, NJ, and Connecticut (minimum: $0.01 per ticket).


Free Museums for New Yorkers

New York Library Card

Being a New Yorker comes with many perks. Not only do you get to experience the atmosphere of the city that millions of people pay a fortune to see on a daily basis, but you can also enjoy free admissions to many museums! How? Get yourself a library card! Head to either Brooklyn, Queens or the New York Public Library and apply for a card. To be eligible for a library card you must live in New York state or either work or study in New York City.

Your library card entitles you to reserve dozens of museums, institutions, and gardens across New York for free thanks to the Culture Pass program. To see a list of all participating institutions, check out the map and list. The card allows you to reserve tickets online and for free.

Read more


Do you know of a free museum in New York that’s not on the list? Please let us know in the comments below.

FAQ

What is pay-what-you-wish?

The pay-what-you-wish ticket policy offers visitors to choose the amount they pay for a ticket. While the amount can be freely chosen, there is typically a suggested minimum that one should try to contribute, if feasible. Theoretically, however, you can visit the museums for free.

Is the Metropolitan Museum free?

No. Admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is not free. It used to offer pay-what-you-wish-admission but changed its policy. Now, only New Yorkers can enjoy free admission to the museum. Visitors will have to pay regular ticket prices.

Is the Museum of Natural History free?

Kind of. The Museum of Natural History offers pay-what-you-wish admission to its visitors, providing them with the choice to choose the amount they pay. If you want to take advantage of the offer, you can get your tickets directly at the ticket counter. Pay-what-you-wish tickets are not available online.

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About the author

I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 25 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!

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