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NYC's Best Free Museum Days

November 8, 2016 - by Chelsey Grasso
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Since museum tickets can add up quickly in New York, especially if you’re really only wanting to spend a couple hours seeing some favorites up-close, but fortunately there are many free museum options. Many of NYC’s museums have taken to the “pay as you wish” policy during various days and times in the week, which allows visitors to enter museums for free (or at whatever cost they feel able to donate at the time). Rounded up below are some of our top picks when it comes to free museum visiting for every day of the week. No matter if it’s a Sunday or a Tuesday, there’s a museum out there in New York waiting to educate (and astound) you. Take advantage!

Best Free Museum Days NYC: Monday

Museum at Eldridge Street

Museum at Eldridge Street (Lower East Side)

Stop by the Museum at Eldridge Street anytime on Monday to explore this beloved national and historic landmark. This synagogue educates people from all backgrounds on the immigrant experience and Jewish American traditions, history, and culture. 12 Eldridge St., 212-219-0302, eldridgestreet.org

Best Free Museum Days NYC: Tuesday

9/11 Memorial Museum

9/11 Memorial Museum (Financial District)

Free from 5pm-8pm on Tuesdays, the 9/11 Memorial Museum tells the story of 9/11 through an array of multimedia displays, audio narratives, and on-site artifacts that were removed from Ground Zero following the 2001 attacks. 180 Greenwich St., 917-410-4778, 911memorial.org

Best Free Museum Days NYC: Wednesday

Museum of Jewish Heritage

Museum of Jewish Heritage (Financial District)

The Museum of Jewish Heritage offers free admission every Wednesday from 4pm-8pm, allowing the public to learn about the Holocaust and modern Jewish history during their visit. Photography, toys, musical instruments, posters, and thousands of audio and video testimonies can be found within this museum’s walls. 36 Battery Pl., 646-437-4202, mjhnyc.org

Frick Collection

Frick Collection (Upper East Side)

Head over to The Frick Collection to take in numerous European painting masterpieces, pieces of French furniture and porcelain, and nineteenth-century paper works. Along with the impressive galleries, the gardens are also worth strolling through during your visit. For decades, The Frick was known for its pay-what-you-wish Sunday mornings, but that policy is changed as of July 5th, 2017; Wednesdays from 2pm to 6pm now hold that shift, and the duration of the discount is twice as long. 1 E. 70th St., 212-288-0700, frick.org

Best Free Museum Days NYC: Thursday

Museum of Arts and Design

Museum of Arts and Design (Midtown West)

From 6pm-8pm on Thursdays the Museum of Arts and Design opens its doors to visitors free of charge. Their permanent collection includes over 3,000 objects that range from the American Studio Craft Movement to more contemporary works of art. 2 Columbus Circle, 212-299-7777, madmuseum.org

International Center for Photography (Nolita)

With a new location in Lower Manhattan, you’ll definitely want to stop in for a visit at ICP between 6pm and 9pm on any Thursday evening. While the exhibitions are constantly changing, you’ll be sure to see something that relates to the current movements in pop, political, and celebrity culture. 250 Bowery, 212-857-0000, icp.org

Best Free Museum Days NYC: Friday

Museum of Modern Art

Museum of Modern Art (Midtown West) 

The Museum of Modern Art houses some of the world’s most famous paintings, sculptures, and photography works, and it’s completely free to explore from 4pm-8pm on Friday evenings. Feast your eyes on the original works of Van Gogh, Dali, Picasso, Rousseau, Lichtenstein, and many more. 11 W. 53rd St., 212-708-9400, moma.org

Whitney Museum of American Art (West Village)

In 2015 the Whitney Museum of American Art opened the doors of its new location in the Meatpacking District, and from 7pm-9:30pm on Fridays you can check out this acclaimed museum’s digs for free. This enormous museum houses over 21,000 works from the twentieth and twenty-first century, and you can easily spend hours exploring its corridors. 99 Gansevoort St., 212-570-3600, whitney.org

New-York Historical Society (Upper West Side)

History buffs will be overwhelmed with artifacts at the New-York Historical Society, where there are more than 1.6 million works waiting to be seen. The N-YHS is also New York City’s oldest museum, and a world-class collection of Hudson River School paintings, American portraits, manuscript collections, and over 800 works of sculpture demonstrate the breadth of its exhibits. Admission is pay-as-you-wish from 6-8 pm on Fridays. 170 Central Park W., 212-873-3400, nyhistory.org

The Morgan Library & Museum (Midtown East)

Just a ten-minute walk from Grand Central in New York City, The Morgan Library & Museum began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan. Today, the Morgan serves as a museum, research library, musical venue, architectural landmark, and historic site. Home to an enormous collection of literary and historical works, there is no shortage of early printed books and old master drawings within its walls. Every Friday enjoy free admission from 7pm-9pm. 225 Madison Ave., 212-685-0008, themorgan.org

Best Free Museum Days NYC: Saturday

Guggenheim Museum

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (Upper East Side)

Spend your Saturday night from 5:45pm-7:45pm at the Guggenheim Museum taking in not only the modern and contemporary art that’s housed in its wall, but also the actual architecture of the building itself. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1943, this museum is as notable for its building as it is its collection. 1071 Fifth Ave., 212-423-3500, guggenheim.org

Best Free Museum Days NYC: Sunday

The Studio Museum in Harlem (Harlem)

The Studio Museum in Harlem has a collection of over 1,600 paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, watercolors, drawings, pastels, and more. The museum gives a voice to the culture of the neighborhood while specializing in work by artists of African descent. Sunday admission is free all day (12pm to 6pm) thanks to Target. 144 W. 125th St., 212-864-4500, studiomuseuminharlem.org

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