I love visiting museums, so I am usually willingly pay for admission. But there are ways to get into most major New York City museums for free (or almost free). I’ve listed my five favorite museums and how you can get free admission.
You can also check out this guide to NYC Museum Memberships for free admission for a year and other benefits if you’re a frequent museum visitor.
1. The Frick Collection
The Frick Collection is not only an art museum, but a historic home. This museum houses Henry Frick’s, one of the industrialists of the late 1800s, personal art collection in his former residence.
When to go for free and or almost free: Every Sunday from 11 am to 1 pm, you can pay as you wish. That means you can pay as little or as much as you’d like. On the first Friday of every month except January from 6 pm to 9 pm, admission is free.
It does get crowded at those times, so you can regular admission is $22 and with a valid ID, students can get in for $12.
Learn more about the museum: Art in the Frick Collection: Paintings, Sculpture, Decorative Arts
2. Neue Galerie New York
The Neue Galerie is home to German and Austrian art from the late 1800s to early 1900s. The highlight is Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, also known as the Woman in Gold. Apart from art, Neue Galerie has two Viennese inspired cafes, Cafe Sabarsky and Cafe Fledermaus. I recommend going for coffee and cake.
When to go for free and or almost free: Visit Neue Galerie for free on the first Friday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm. Note that you can go to the cafes without paying admission.
To avoid the crowd on the free Friday, you can pay $20 for general admission and $10 for students with a valid ID.
Learn about the museum: Masterworks from the Neue Galerie New York
3. Morgan Library & Museum
The Morgan Library & Museum is another personal art collection. Pierpont Morgan’s library is stunning in both its contents and architecture. Meanwhile, there are exhibits on display for around three to six months at a time.
When to go for free and or almost free: Visit on Fridays from 7 pm to 9 pm for free. Select parts of the museum are free to visit on Tuesdays from 3 pm to 5 pm and Sundays from 4 pm to 6 pm. Though I highly recommend going to see the exhibits and avoid the crowds by paying $20 for adults and $13 for students with a valid ID for admission.
Note you can visit the museum shop and Morgan Cafe (for afternoon tea!) without paying for admission.
Learn about the museum: The Morgan Library: An American Masterpiece
4. 9/11 Memorial & Museum
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum remembers those who tragically passed away on September 11, 2001. The museum has several exhibits that documents the events of the day and includes a memorial that commemorates the lives of each person. It is not a museum to casually visit. As an American and a New Yorker, it really is emotional to visit.
When to go for free and or almost free: Admission is free on Tuesdays from 5 pm until it closes. I recommend visiting anytime. General admission for adults is $24 and US college students is $18.
Learn more about the museum: No Day Shall Erase You: The Story of 9/11 as Told at the September 11 Museum
5. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of art is one of the largest museums in the world and its galleries and exhibits cover 5,000 years of art. There’s something from every part of the world and you’d need several days or I may say even years to get the most out of it.
When to go for free and or almost free: Admission is just suggested. So the $25 admission for adults and $12 for students is actually just a suggested price. The $25 is well worth it though because when you buy the admission, it also includes admission to two other Met museums: The Met Breuer (for modern art) and The Met Cloisters (featuring medieval art and architecture).
Learn more about the museum: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings