All the NYC Museum Free Days You Need to Know About

Updated April 27, 2023
About the Author: Denise Cruz has lived in 4 countries and visited 35+ others. After her second sabbatical, she began sharing travel advice at Wander Her Way.

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NYC Museum Free Days

This post is all about the NYC museum free days that you should know about!

While there are many incredible museums in New York, many of them are quite pricey.

Unlike cities such as London or Washington, D.C. that have many free public museums, a lot of New York’s museums charge up to $25 for admission.

Luckily, most of these museums also offer free admission days or pay-what-you-wish admission days regularly, either on a weekly or monthly basis.

Museums with free admission means it is totally free, while pay-what-you-wish admission means you can pay any amount (even just a dollar) to visit. For museums that have pay-what-you-wish admission, having cash/coins on hand is the best way to pay because not all will accept card payments.

If you can’t time your visit to take advantage of these free days, consider purchasing The New York Pass. This pass gets you admission into dozens of museums and other attractions for a deeply discounted price and is a great deal if there’s a lot you want to see in New York!

Without further ado, here are all the free days in NYC museums that you need to know about!

Note: While I try to keep this post as accurate and up to date as possible, always double check on the museum’s website first before planning your visit.

Always Free/Pay-What-You-Wish

These museums offer free or pay-what-you-wish admission all the time:

  • The American Museum of Natural History
  • Brooklyn Museum (pay-what-you-wish)
  • American Folk Art Museum
  • El Museo del Barrio (pay-what-you-wish)
  • Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology
  • Queens Museum
  • Bronx Museum of the Arts
  • New York City Police Museum (pay-what-you-wish)
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • Museum of the City of New York (pay-what-you-wish)
  • New York Transit Museum
  • Socrates Sculpture Park

My top picks: The American Museum of Natural History and Museum of the City of New York.

Weekly Free/Pay-What-You-Wish

Many museums offer weekly free days or hours (usually in the evening on weekends.)

  • Museum at Eldridge Street (pay-what-you-wish Mondays)
  • 9/11 Memorial Museum (free Tuesdays 5-8PM)
  • Bronx Zoo (pay-what-you-wish Wednesdays)
  • New York Aquarium (free Wednesdays 3-4:30PM)
  • The Frick Collection (pay-what-you-wish Wednesday 2-6PM)
  • Brooklyn Children’s Museum (free Thursdays 3-5PM)
  • New Museum (free Thursdays 7-9PM)
  • Museum of Arts & Design (free Thursdays 6-9PM)
  • International Center of Photography (pay-what-you-wish Thursdays 6-9PM)
  • MoMA (free Fridays 5:30-9PM)
  • Museum of the Moving Image (free Fridays 4-8PM)
  • The New York Historical Society (pay-what-you-wish Fridays 6-8PM)
  • Asia Society (free Fridays 6-9PM)
  • Whitney Museum of American Art (free Fridays 7-9PM)
  • The Morgan Library & Museum (free Fridays 7-9PM)
  • Cooper Hewitt (free Saturdays 6-9PM)
  • The Guggenheim (pay-what-you-wish Saturdays 6-8PM)
  • The Jewish Museum (free Saturdays)
  • Brooklyn Children’s Museum (free Sundays 4-7PM)
  • The Morgan Library & Museum (free Sundays 4-6PM)

My top picks: New Museum on Thursday night, MoMA or the Whitney on Friday night, and the Guggenheim on Saturday night.

Monthly Free/Pay-What-You-Wish

These museums offer free/pay-what-you-wish admission once a month:

  • The Frick Collection (free the first Friday of the month 6-9PM)
  • Neue Galerie (free the first Friday of the month 5-8PM)
  • Brooklyn Museum (free the first Saturday of the month 5-11PM)

My top picks: The Frick Collection.

One thing to note when museums have free/pay-what-you-wish admission is that they typically get a lot more crowded than during regular admission days.

So be prepared to wait in line longer than normal for tickets!

What about The Met?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (AKA The Met) and its other branches (The Met Breuer and The Met Cloisters) used to have pay-what-you-wish admission for everyone. This was great, because The Met is one of the best museums in New York and a must-see for all visitors!

Unfortunately, in 2018, this policy. Now, only New York residents (and students in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut) can take advantage of pay-what-you-wish.

Everyone else must pay full ticket price ($25 for adults.)

While this change is extremely annoying, you have two options. You can either visit with a friend who’s a New York resident (they and guests get pay-what-you-wish admission) or visit as part of The New York Pass.

Free with The New York Pass

Since I’ve mentioned The New York Pass a couple times now, here’s a list of some of the museums/attractions that are included when you purchase the pass.

Depending how many of these places you plan to visit, The New York Pass can save you a TON of money.

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art ($25)
  • MoMA ($25)
  • Statue of Liberty Ellis Island Museum ($19)
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum ($26)
  • The Guggenheim ($25)
  • Whitney Museum of American Art ($25)
  • Intrepid Air, Sea, and Space Museum ($33)

In addition to these museums, you get access to other attractions like:

  • The Empire State Building Observatory
  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck
  • Ice skating in Central Park
  • Hop on hop off bus tours
  • Circle Line cruises
  • Art exhibits
  • Food tours
  • Backstage tours

Other New York Posts

I hope you found this list of NYC museum free days useful!

Be sure to check out the following posts when planning your trip to New York:

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NYC Museum Free Days

Denise, travel blogger at Wander Her Way

About Denise Cruz

Denise is a marketing executive who escaped corporate to travel the world… twice. A Brazilian native living in the U.S., she’s lived in 4 countries and visited 35+ others. After side-hustling her way to financial independence, she curates solo destination guides, slow travel tips, and travel blogging advice on Wander Her Way. When she’s not on the road, you can find her in Miami with her dog Finnegan.