Free Museum Day via

Free Museum Day (and other ways to get in for free)

We love a museum, whether it’s as grand as the Louvre, or as kitschy as the Spam Museum. We also like the word free, so we sniffed out a few opportunities to get in for free, including Smithsonian Magazine’s Free Museum Day! Sure, there are a few catches, but what better way to stretch your family’s travel budget?

Updated: January 2024

Fort Worth Museum of Science & History via

Free Museum Day

Before we get into the details, there is one important detail to note. Last year, Smithsonian Magazine announced that they had “made the difficult decision to pause Museum Day for 2023,” but hinted that the event will return in 2024. So far, though, no date has been announced (as of January 2024). We have seen other web sites point to Museum Day on September 17 or 24, but the Smithsonian itself has not made an announcement. However, the other programs mentioned below are available.

Every year, Smithsonian Magazine sponsors Museum Day. Anyone holding a coveted “golden ticket” gets in for free! (Note: Not actually gold, and not from Willy Wonka. However, still free from Smithsonian Magazine.) These aren’t just the big Smithsonian museums in Washington DC (many of which are free every day). The magazine has partnered with hundreds of museums across the country. To find participating museums near you, enter your zip code here. You can also search for a particular museum if you have a favorite, or a destination in mind.

By way of example, we searched around our home base in North Texas. The freebies include American Airlines’ incredible CR Smith Museum, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Dallas Love Field, the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame (which we didn’t even know was here), and almost a dozen more.

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Be sure to go online to get your free Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day tickets in advance of your visit. Then go and be free…to enjoy Free Museum Day!

Oklahoma City Museum of Art via

Free Museums Every Month from Bank of America

If you’re a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch cardholder, you may be able to take advantage of their free museum offer, Museums on Us.

This offer is limited to the cardholder (no Plus Ones), but is valid for the first full weekend of every month. Entry does not include special exhibition or ticketed shows, buy you are otherwise free to enjoy the museum, for free!

You can find participating museums here. The list is smaller than the Smithsonian Magazine’s offering. For example, there are only 13 participating locations in Texas. That said, they are remarkable museums.

George W. Bush Presidential Library

(Photo: George W. Bush Presidential Library)

Blue Star Museums

Every summer – Memorial Day through Labor Day – the National Endowment for the Arts teams up with Blue Star Families to offer free admission for active military families at more than 2,000 museums nationwide.

The vast list includes art and history museums, children’s museums, and even some zoos and nature centers. You can find participating museums in this state-by-state listing. Our North Texas basecamp is surrounded by about two dozen participating locations, including the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum.

Museums for All

One of our favorite programs to get more Americans into museums is the Institute of Museum and Library Services “Museums for All” initiative. Through this program, families who are receiving food assistance (SNAP benefits) may be eligible for free or reduced admission to more than 1,200 museums throughout the United States. Unlike many benefit programs, this one is super-simple: present your EBT card and a photo ID at the admission desk, and you’re in!

There’s an interactive form to find museums near you, or your destination at the Museums for All website. The variety of participating locations is huge, and includes art galleries, natural history museums, botanical gardens, historical museums, and more!

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Time for another example! For a trip to Arizona, we found several of our favorite facilities participate in Museums for All, including the Flandrau Planetarium at the University of Arizona (where you can still see Pink Floyd laser light shows!) and the Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures in Tucson, the Arboretum of Flagstaff, and the Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa.

Your Turn

We’d love to hear about any other free admission opportunities you might know about. We’d also like hearing about your experience if you’ve taken advantage of these (or other) opportunities to explore great museums for less, or even for free! Just leave the details for everyone in the comments. Thanks in advance!

8 comments on “Free Museum Day (and other ways to get in for free)

  1. Pingback: How to Visit America’s National Parks for Free | TravelLatte

    • We love the idea! It is a shame it’s not available everywhere; although, there are many museums around the world that have free days, or free evenings; you just have to check ahead. One thing we love about Washington DC is that all of the Smithsonian museums are free! If only that was true everywhere. Thanks for reading, Kat!

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  3. It’s great to know where to look for “free” anything, but especially museums which can be quite expensive. It certainly will help when trying to figure out how best to spend our travel budget!

  4. Wow! I had no idea about the Bank of America card free museum offer. I am definitely going to take advantage of this in the future. What great information. We love a museum too, especially the weird or obscure ones.

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