Savings and Discounts: Visiting New York City Museums on a Budget

There’s no reason to skimp on culture when you’re in New York. If you want to see some of the world’s great art works and learn fascinating stories from history, take advantage of the many free and cheap museum events throughout the city. Some museums are free to visit, while others allow you to select your own ticket price at the counter. Other big names like the Guggenheim host “Pay-What-You-Wish” hours on a certain day of the week. Check out the over 40 museums listed below, a diverse collection of art and historical institutions welcoming all!

Museums with Free Admission

The following museums, located throughout the NYC boroughs, are always free of charge.

American Folk Art Museum

American Folk Art Museum. Upper West Side, 2 Lincoln Sq., 212-595-9533,

BLDG 92. Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn, 63 Flushing Ave., 718-907-5932,

BRIC House. Fort Greene, Brooklyn, 647 Fulton St., 718-683-5600,

The Bronx Museum of the Arts. Fleetwood, The Bronx, 1040 Grand Concourse, 718-681-6000,

Hamilton Grange. Harlem, 414 W 141st St., 646-548-2310,

Harbor Defense Museum. Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Ft. Hamilton Pkwy. & 101st St., 718-630-4349

MoMA PS1. After visiting MoMA’s Midtown location, present your ticket at PS1 within 14 days for free admission. New York City residents can get in free to MoMA PS1 at all times (it's $10 if you're from out of town). Long Island City, Queens, 22-25 Jackson Ave., 212-708-9400,

The Museum at FIT. Chelsea, Seventh Avenue at 27th St., 212-217-4558,

The National Museum of the American Indian. Financial District, 1 Bowling Green, 212-514-3700,

New York Public Library

New York Public Library (Main Branch): Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. Midtown West, 476 5th Ave., 917-275-6975,

New York Public Library: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Harlem, 515 Malcolm X Blvd., 212-491-2200,

New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Upper West Side, 40 Lincoln Center Plaza, 917-275-6975,

New York Transit Museum Annex & Store. Grand Central Terminal, 212-878-0106,

Queens County Farm Museum. Floral Park, Queens, 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy., 718-347-3276,

Swiss Institute of Contemporary Art. East Village, 38 St. Marks Pl., 212-925-2035,

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace. Flatiron, 28 E. 20th St., 212-260-1616,

Museums with Suggested Donations

You might see the term “suggested donation” next to admission prices at a few ticket booths. That means the institution is asking for a certain dollar amount but will accept less money in exchange for a ticket. We recommend paying the listed amount if you can, but it’s nice to know those with less cash can still get in.

The American Museum of Natural History. Families can take a journey through the awe-inspiring natural world at this Upper West Side institution. Recommended admission is $28 adults, $22 students w/ID & seniors; pay-what-you-wish available at the ticket counter only. Ticketed exhibitions are NOT included in pay-what-you-wish tickets. 200 Central Park W., 212-769-5100,

Brooklyn Museum

Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn’s crowning cultural institution recommends a $16 ticket price (does NOT included ticketed exhibits). 200 Eastern Pkwy., 718-638-5000,

El Museo del Barrio. Exploring the rich history of Latinx art and history, El Museo recommends a $9 admission fee for adults, 12 and under free. 1230 5th Ave., 212-831-7272,

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. The world's first museum dedicated to LGBTQ art and artists, Leslie-Lohman is in in Soho and recommends a $9 donation for entry. 26 Wooster St., 212-431-2609,

Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met is pay-what-you-wish for residents of New York State (everyone else has to pay full-price with the exception of students from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, who also get to set their own entry fee). 1000 Fifth Ave., 212-535-7710,

MoMA PS1 is the Queens outpost of the Museum of Modern Art in Long Island City, suggesting $10 for entry (free for NYC residents). 22-25 Jackson Ave., 212-708-9400,

Queens Museum. The Queens Museum, located in a large city park, suggests an $8 ticket price. New York City Building at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, 718-592-9700,

Museums with Free & Pay-What-You-Wish Hours

Many famous cultural institutions in NYC lower admission costs on a certain day every week. Some offer free admission during certain hours, while others allow you to select your own ticket price with a “Pay-What-You-Wish” policy. We’ve arranged these special events by day of the week.


Museum at Eldridge Street. Eldridge Street Synagogue was opened in 1887 in the Lower East Side and remains today as a memorial to Jewish culture. Mondays (and Fridays), visitors can pay whatever they wish and tour the museum for free. 12 Eldridge St., 212-219-0302,


911 Memorial Museum

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum. From the former site of the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan, this museum commemorates the lives lost on September 11, 2001. Tuesdays, free tickets to the museum are distributed on-site on a first come, first served basis, beginning at 4pm. Enter the museum at 5:30pm and stay until closing time at 7pm. 180 Greenwich St, 212-312-8800,

The Morgan Library & Museum. Financier J.P. Morgan’s former home in Midtown East contains work by Rembrandt, Picasso, Dickens, and Hemingway, as well as three Gutenberg Bibles. Admission is free to the McKim rooms on Tuesdays (and Sundays), 3-5pm. That includes Mr. Morgan’s Library, the Study, Rotunda, and Librarian’s Office. 225 Madison Ave., 212-685-0008,


The Frick Collection. Inside this Gilded Age mansion on the Upper East Side are pieces by Bellini, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Gainsborough, Goya, and Whistler. Pay-What-You-Wish hours are Wednesdays, 2-6pm. 1 E 70th St., 212-288-0700,

The New York Botanical Garden. Indulge in botanical beauty at a 250-acre green space in the Bronx, free all day on Wednesdays. 10am-6pm. 2900 Southern Boulevard, (718) 817-8700,

Van Cortlandt House Museum. This preserved 17th-century structure in the Bronx is free all day, every Wednesday. 10am-4pm. 6035 Broadway, 718-543-3344,


Brooklyn Children’s Museum. The world’s first children’s museum is located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Pay As You Wish hours occur every Thursday (2pm to 6pm) and on Sundays (see below). 145 Brooklyn Ave., 718-735-4400,

International Center for Photography Museum. On the Lower East Side, ICP Museum engages visitors with fascinating photography exhibitions. Pay-What-You-Wish hours are Thursday nights, 6-9pm. 950 Bowery, 212-857-0000,

The Jewish Museum. Thursday, 5-8pm, The Jewish Museum provides Pay-What-You-Wish pricing to view a wide range of art and artifacts that reflect the Jewish experience worldwide. 1109 5th Ave., 212-423-3200,

Museum of Arts and Design

Museum of Arts and Design. From its location on Columbus Circle, MAD explores contemporary craft and design. Tickets are half price Thursdays (this doesn't include access to certain exhibits, such as Taylor Swift: Storyteller. 2 Columbus Circle, 212-299-7777,

Museum of Chinese in America. The first Thursday of every month, explore the history of Chinese-American culture during Free First Thursdays, 11am-9pm. 215 Centre St., 855-955-MOCA,

New Museum. Witness cutting-edge contemporary art at this Lower East Side Museum. Every Thursday evening, Pay-What-You-Wish 7-9pm. 235 Bowery, 212-219-1222,


Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Relax in a cherry blossom orchard at BBG, offering free admission Fridays, 10am-12pm; weekdays are also free in winter, Tuesday–Friday, December–February. 445 Flatbush Ave., 718-623-7200,

The Frick Collection. On the first Friday of every month, get free admission to The Frick from 6-9pm. 1 E 70th St., 212-288-0700,

The Morgan Library & Museum. Admission to the Morgan is free on Fridays, 7-9pm. *Reservations are required. 225 Madison Ave., 212-685-0008,

The Museum of Modern Art. Located in Midtown West, MoMA invites *New York residents to view work by Van Gogh, Warhol, and many others for *first Friday of the month, 4-8pm. 11 W 53rd St., 212-708-9400,

Museum of the Moving Image. Study the history of film and television at this cinephilic institution in Astoria, Queens. Guests get in free Fridays, 4-8pm. 36-01 35th Ave., 718-777-6888,

Neue Galerie. This small German and Austrian museum on Museum Mile hosts First Fridays, offering free admission 6-9pm the first Friday of every month. Upper East Side, 1048 5th Ave., 212-628-6200,

New-York Historical Society. NYHS, the city’s oldest museum, contains four centuries of history and art specific to New York City. Pay-What-You-Wish Fridays occur weekly, 6-9pm. 170 Central Park West, 212-873-3400,

Noguchi Museum. Admission is free the first Friday of every month at this museum, dedicated to the sculpture of Isamu Noguchi, in Long Island City, Queens. 9-01 33rd Rd., 718-204-7088,

The Rubin Museum of Art. This museum, highlighting the art and history of the Himalayan region, hosts K2 Friday Nights every week. Enjoy free admission 6-10pm, in addition to music, film, and food and drink specials. 150 W 17th St., 212-620-5000,

The Whitney Museum of American Art. See the work of living artists at this Meatpacking District institution. Pay-What-You-Wish hours are every Friday evening, 7-10pm. These tickets are available for purchase 7-9:30pm at the admissions desk only. 99 Gansevoort St., 212-570-3600,


Brooklyn Museum. The first Saturday of every month, the Brooklyn Museum gives free admission from 5 to 11pm as part of Target Free Saturdays. Tour the Brooklyn Museum’s wide expanse of art objects, which range from ancient Egyptian artifacts to 20th-century feminist art. First Saturdays also offers live music, dance performances, talks, and other free live entertainment. 200 Eastern Pkwy., 718-638-5000,

The Jewish Museum. All day Saturday (11am-5:45pm), The Jewish Museum admits visitors free of charge. 1109 5th Ave., 212-423-3200,

New York Botanical Garden. Have a peaceful hour at NYBG while the city’s still asleep. Admission is free on Saturdays from 9-10am. 2900 Southern Blvd., 718-817-8700,

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Walk up the spiral ramp at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed art museum on Museum Mile. Saturdays are Pay What You Wish, 5-8pm. 1071 5th Ave., 212-423-3500,


Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Pay As You Wish hours occur every week on Thursday and Sunday, 4pm to 7pm. 145 Brooklyn Ave., 718-735-4400,

The Morgan Library & Museum. In addition to free hours on Tuesday and Friday, The Morgan opens up its McKim rooms for free on Sundays, 4-6pm. 225 Madison Ave., 212-685-0008,

About the Author

Merrill Lee Girardeau lives and writes in Brooklyn.

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