For One Day Only, You Can Get Free Entry to Museums Across the Country

Aug 16, 2019

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Great news for all you museum lovers out there: The Smithsonian magazine’s 15th annual Museum Day is almost here.

On Saturday, Sept. 21, more than 1,300 museums in all 50 states — plus Washington, DC — will open their doors to visitors for free, thanks to the Smithsonian. All you have to do is register for and download a Museum Day ticket — and they just became available.

Each ticket is good for entry for two people, and here’s the full list of participating museums. Just keep in mind that you are only permitted one ticket per email address, and once you select a museum, you can’t change it. So, choose wisely!

Photo courtesy of the Intrepid Air and Space Museum
Visit the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum for free on Smithsonian magazine Museum Day. (Photo courtesy of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum)

This year, Museum Day celebrates the Smithsonian Year of Music. The theme crosses different disciplines, including art, history, culture, science and education to bring together different music-related resources. You may find programming that includes a live music performance, a film with a strong musical influence or even a scavenger hunt that showcases different music and sound.

Some notable programs include one at the Montana Natural History Center in Missoula, which will have self-guided stations that focus on sound in the natural world; you’ll be able to explore how sound travels and watch hands-on demonstrations. The Grady County Museum in Chickasha, Oklahoma, will have an exhibit featuring musical instruments and band photographs, and even live music from local artists. There will also be a food truck on-site.

With so many museums to choose from, the hardest part about celebrating Museum Day may be narrowing down your choices. The Jewish Museum in New York City, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, and the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles could all be good places to start. Typically, these museums cost anywhere from $10 to $18 per person.

TPG’s research editor Alyssa Haak visited the Morgan Library Museum, the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and the Van Cortland House thanks to past Smithsonian Museum Days. She remarked, “The experience has always been great! I’ve always had a relatively uncrowded (for a free event in NYC) chance to explore the smaller often-overlooked museums.” She also noted how she’s skipped more popular destinations in favor of more obscure ones, too — and with more than 1,300 to choose from, there is undoubtedly something for everyone. 

This is a nice perk that you can only take advantage of for a limited time; while ticket supply is unlimited, a few individual museums will cap the number of tickets at their facilities. That info will be available on the Museum Day website. Last year, more than 453,000 tickets downloaded. So, if there’s a museum you’ve been dying to see, next month is the time to do it for free.

Of course, waiting for the Smithsonian magazine’s annual Museum Day isn’t the only way to get free entry to popular museums. If you have a Bank of America, Merrill Lynch or US Trust credit or debit card, you can take advantage of free entry at the museum on select days every month.

Featured photo by Pgiam / Getty Images.

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