Just a reminder – during Covid times be sure to contact your destination before heading out. Who knows what reopening phase we are in and whether they’re open or closed.
nycgo.com the official guide to NYC does a wonderful job covering a wide range of essential NYCity info.
These New York City museums are either always free, free on specific days of the week or free for select hours. Find one near you, and take advantage of their generosity. (as of 04/02/19)
African Burial Ground Memorial Site
American Folk Art Museum
The Bronx Museum of the Arts
El Museo del Barrio
Federal Hall National Memorial
General Grant National Memorial
The Harbor Defense Museum
MoMA PS1 (free for NYC residents)
The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology
National Museum of the American Indian
The New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
New York Transit Museum Annex & Store, Grand Central Terminal
Queens County Farm Museum
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden (grounds and botanical garden only)
Socrates Sculpture Park
Soldiers and Sailors Monument
Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace
The following museums typically require paid admission but open their doors for free on specific days or times—though again, some do charge for admission to specific events or sections. Be sure to consult their websites or call ahead if you hope to see a specific exhibition.
Museum at Eldridge Street (pay what you will, 10am to 5pm, tours)
Bronx Zoo (pay what you will for grounds access; does not include admission to special exhibitions like the Butterfly Garden, Congo Gorilla Forest and JungleWorld)
Frick Collection (pay what you wish, 2 to 6pm)
Museum of Jewish Heritage (4 to 8pm)
New York Aquarium (pay what you will, 3pm to close; 4pm to close in summer)
New York Botanical Garden (free grounds access; does not include entry to the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, special exhibitions like the Orchid Show and Holiday Train Show, Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, Rock and Native Plant Gardens or Tram Tour)
Queens Botanical Garden (April to October, 3 to 6pm; all day rest of year)
Van Cortlandt House Museum
Staten Island Zoo (2 to 4:45pm)
First Thursday of the Month
Museum of Chinese in America
Asia Society (September to June, 6 to 9pm)
Brooklyn Botanic Garden (March to November, before noon)
Historic Richmond Town (1 to 5pm)
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (April to October, 5 to 9pm)
Japan Society (6 to 9pm)
Morgan Library and Museum (7 to 9pm)
Museum of Modern Art (4 to 8pm)
Museum of the Moving Image (4 to 8pm)
New York Hall of Science (2 to 5pm)
The New-York Historical Society (pay what you will, 6 to 8pm)
Rubin Museum of Art (6 to 10pm)
First Saturday of the Month
Brooklyn Museum (5 to 11pm)
ThoughtGallery.org does a great job of presenting information on NYCity events, including this information on museum events and special FREE admissions.
The following information is sadly out of date, but does give you an idea of what was available in the time before Covid. I will update this section after the dust settles, post Covid.
Next year, remember that museums on Fifth Avenue celebrated their annual Museum Mile Festival on June 12 (2nd Tue. in June) and that museums throughout Lower Manhattan opened their doors on June 19 for Night at the Museums, an evening of free admission and special programming at a variety of downtown museums and historical sites.
New Yorkers aren’t limited to these annual events when it comes to getting into New York’s museums for free. Many museums offer free admission one evening each week or month, including:
MoMA (Friday nights),
the Museum of the Moving Image (Friday nights),
the Neue Galerie (first Friday of each month),
the Museum of Arts and Design (Thursday nights), and
the Asia Society (Friday nights).
In addition to these free evenings, many museums will continue their ongoing special evening programming this summer, including:
the Rubin Museum of Art’s K2 Friday Nights,
MetFridays at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and
The Frick Collection’s First Fridays.
These Friday events offer an easy way to enjoy the museum’s collections after the museum’s regular hours, along with music, special exhibition admission, drinks, and more.
The Brooklyn Museum will also continue their Target First Saturdays series on July 7 with an event dedicated to Reimagining Independence, featuring music and dance performances, art projects and more.
Those hoping to spend their evenings learning more about the natural world, meanwhile, can check out upcoming evening talks at the AMNH centered on Manhattanhenge (July 12); and the spectacular sights of the summer sky (June 26). On select Fridays in July and August, the museum will also offer special evening bat walks through Central Park, giving attendees a special look at the nocturnal creatures who call the park home.
Foodies also have several upcoming evening events to enjoy. The Museum of Food and Drink has a slate of summer programming that includes sessions on sourcing meatballs with the Meatball Shop (June 21), the history of our relationship with dairy (June 28), and barrel aging and fermentation – complete with a tasting (August 30). On July 26, the museum will also offer a special Dinner of the Past centered on food from the time periods of famed feminists as inspired by Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party.
Over at the Museum of the City of New York, the forgotten combination of gin and oysters will make a reappearance at a talk and tasting on June 26.
The New-York Historical Society will host talks with a series of special guests, including a conversation between television host Samantha Bee and journalist Irin Carmon (June 25).
New Yorkers wanting to learn more about the city they call home can head to the Museum of the City of New York for talks on NYC in the age of hyper-gentrification (June 28, above). For a look at the city’s past, meanwhile, join the Fraunces Tavern Museum for a special Independence Eve walking tour of the city’s Revolutionary history on June 29.
Music fans have plenty of upcoming concert series to enjoy this summer, including MoMA’s Summergarden series and sister museum MoMA PS1’s Saturday Warm Up concerts, which feature live and electronic music performances from inside a special architectural installation.
The Cooper Hewitt Museum will offer music and dance programming through their Cocktails at Cooper Hewitt series, which includes upcoming performances by Juilliard musicians, Los Angeles-born singer MILCK, and Heidi Latsky Dance.
Museums will also be the place to catch film screenings this summer. The Museum of the City of New York’s Moonlight & Movies series will include upcoming screenings of Bronx Gothic (June 19) and short films from 60s-era filmmakers Albert and David Maysles (July 11).