Did you know that there are many free museums in NYC? Some of the most popular free museums are “pay what you want” and “donation-based,” but others don’t even require admission!
Check out our guide to free museums in NYC. Then, find out what you can do with the money you saved by not paying for admission. It’s time to make your trip to New York City a budget-friendly one!
Best Free Museums In NYC
Queens County Farm Museum
If you love history and farm life, you might want to check out the Queens County Farm Museum. It is located on 47 acres of farmland in Queens, New York City, the largest undeveloped tract in the city.
It is also a working farm today. While many New York City museums are packed with expensive exhibits, you can learn more about farm life and its people for free at this fascinating museum.
The Queens County Farm Museum has a rich history going back to 1697, making it one of the oldest continuously operating farms in the city. This is also the oldest working historical farm site in New York.
The site is comprised of a historic farmhouse, greenhouse complex, orchard, and herb garden. The museum also hosts a children’s carnival in the spring, a sheep shearing festival in summer, and a Christmas market in December.
The farm also holds a number of seasonal educational events, so visiting the museum will be worthwhile for anyone regardless of age or interests.
Location: 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy, Queens, NY 11004
If you’re a fan of early twentieth-century German and Austrian art, the Neue Galerie is a must-visit museum in New York City. This museum is one of the best free museums in NYC.
The museum is located in the historic William Starr Miller House, at 86th Street and Fifth Avenue. Visitors will find a number of other free museums throughout the city.
The Neue Galerie was inaugurated in November 2001 and has since earned high praise from critics, visitors, and staff alike. Founded by Ronald S. Lauder and Renee Price, the museum’s director and curator welcome visitors from all walks of life.
The current exhibition, Modern Worlds: Austrian and German Art, 1890-1940, celebrates the museum’s twentieth anniversary. The museum also has a cafe and bookstore.
Location: 1048 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028
National Museum of the American Indian
This free museum in Brooklyn displays artifacts and the history of Native Americans dating back 12,000 years. Visitors can explore Native American art and artifacts in a historic customs house. This museum is one of the best free museums in NYC.
The museum has an excellent Native American artifact collection. While you’re there, you might want to take a few moments to check out the museum’s interactive displays. Listed below are other free museums in New York that have Native American artifacts and history.
The museum’s collections are complemented by temporary exhibitions that are well-curated and last over a year. Some of these exhibits are geared toward children. However, some exhibits are designed for adults and are not suitable for younger children.
For this reason, older children may want to visit. There are many interesting exhibits for adults as well. There is also a theater where you can enjoy live performances by local Native artists.
Location: 1 Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004
The Rubin Museum of Art
If you’re looking for a fun, free activity for kids in the Big Apple, the Rubin Museum is the place to go. Located on the former site of Barney’s department store, the museum’s name was inspired by the fact that its circular stairway resembled a mandala, a never-ending circle surrounded by a square.
Mandalas are a Tantric Buddhist diagram of the cosmos. The museum hosts a huge array of events and activities, including great programs for children and teens. This museum is one of the best free museums in NYC.
The museum’s permanent collection covers 1,500 years and has special exhibits dedicated to Himalayan art. Visitors will be able to learn about Buddhist art and religion, as well as Tibetan and Hindu sculpture.
The museum also hosts concerts and cocktail receptions on Wednesday and Friday nights. It’s free to enter, so don’t miss out on this great experience! It’s one of the best things to do in New York City and is a must-see when in the Big Apple.
Location: 150 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011
The Morgan Library & Museum
The Morgan Library and Museum is a six-story building that presents works of art from Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Asia. The museum is a gift from financier J. Pierpont Morgan and is home to a vast collection of books, manuscripts, and artwork.
Some of the collection’s highlights include the handwritten score of the Haffner Symphony by Mozart, three Gutenberg Bibles, and original manuscripts by Jane Austen, and Thomas Pynchon. This museum is one of the best free museums in NYC.
Founded in 1906, the Morgan Library is an architectural landmark and museum. It houses one of the most extensive collections of European manuscripts. The museum is renowned for revolving literary exhibitions and features a restaurant.
You can also find a secret staircase in the museum, which you can use to explore the library’s various exhibitions. The Morgan Library is located at 225 Madison Avenue between 36th and 37th Streets in Manhattan.
Location: 225 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016
There are several ways to enjoy the MoMA without having to pay a dime. You can walk through the museum with an audio guide or enter a specific artwork number into the audio guide to learn more about it. This museum is one of the best free museums in NYC.
If you are visiting with children, you can choose to take your kids with you on the audio tour. The audio tour is designed to be more child-friendly. Food is also available for purchase inside the museum.
To maximize your time at the museum, you can download an audio guide or use a personal device to hear a tour. Some tours are meant for children while others are geared toward visitors with limited time.
The app also has different types of audio tours for different audiences. Those who want to skip the long line can download the app to their phone. You can also choose from over 100 different audio tours.
Location: 11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019
If you’re looking for a free museum in NYC, you may want to visit MoMA PS1. It’s the largest art institution in the country, and it’s located in the borough of Queens, on Court Square. This museum is one of the best free museums in NYC.
While the museum itself is free, admission is limited to the general public. This museum also houses an extensive collection of modern and contemporary art, including sculptures by prominent American artists.
This free admission program will be available for a year beginning Sunday, October 11. To participate in the program, you must be a New York City resident. You’ll need to show proof of residencies, such as a driver’s license, state-issued ID, or utility bill.
Free admission does not apply to fundraisers, concerts, or other ticketed events. Free admission is part of a grant from the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation. It’s part of the museum’s effort to bring art to as many people as possible.
Location: 22-25 Jackson Avenue Long Island City Queens, NY 11101
The Bronx Museum of the Arts
If you live in New York City, you can visit the Bronx Museum of the Arts for free. The Bronx is an abbreviation for the Bronx Museum, a public museum that features paintings, sculptures, and other artworks. This museum is located in Concourse, Bronx. It is also free to enter and is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
The Bronx Museum of the Arts is one of the best places to experience contemporary art, with more than a thousand works in its permanent collection. In addition to the permanent collection, the museum also hosts rotating special exhibits and offers free Wi-Fi.
It is the only Passport Partner in the Bronx, and it offers free admission to its collections and programs. Visitors will be able to enjoy modern art, as well as paintings, sculptures, and videos.
Location: 1040 Grand Concourse, The Bronx, NY 10456
There are many free museums in New York City. While most of these places have limited seating and a suggested donation, some have reduced hours or even free admission on specific days.
Many of these places also require a vaccination. To avoid the crowds, plan your trip during low-travel seasons. Alternatively, you can choose to pay what you want for admission.
The Brooklyn Museum is a Beaux-Arts building that features over 1.5 million works of art. It also serves as a research library and archival repository for the New York Public Library.
If you’d rather spend the whole day learning about contemporary art, the New Museum of Modern Art is a must-visit. This museum specializes in American artists and houses more than 1.5 million pieces of artwork. It also offers free admission on the first Saturday of the month.
There are also free art exhibitions throughout the year. And don’t forget to check out the Museum of Natural History. There’s a huge collection of natural history, including fossils, and other amazing animals.
Location: 200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11238
The Noguchi Museum chartered as the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden, is located in Queens, Long Island. The museum was designed by Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi. The museum features a collection of his acclaimed artwork, including his famous sculpture “Raisin Boy” and “The Fish Bowl.”
Located in Long Island City, New York, the Noguchi Museum is an excellent introduction to the world of sculpture. This museum is one of the best free museums in NYC.
Featuring a beautiful outdoor sculpture garden and two floors of exhibition space in a former factory building, the Noguchi Museum is the perfect spot to introduce young children to art and culture.
In addition to featuring contemporary sculpture, it serves as a global hub for Noguchi’s research and appreciation.
Location: 9-01 33rd Rd, Queens, NY 11106
Staten Island Museum
The Staten Island Museum is one of the oldest cultural institutions on Staten Island. It is the only general interest museum in New York City. Visitors can enjoy its free exhibitions that showcase the history and culture of Staten Island.
The museum also features artifacts from ancient times to the modern era. The Staten Island Museum is also located in the city’s historic district. Visitors can take a guided tour of the museum to learn about the different collections and the history of the Staten Island neighborhood.
The Statue of Liberty museum is not free, but it is included with a TopView Tours multi-day bus ticket. Located in a gilded age mansion, the museum explores the experiences of over 12 million immigrants.
Admission is free on the first Friday of each month. The museum houses more than two million pieces of art from different periods of human history. It is also free on Friday evenings from 7 pm to 9:30 pm. This museum is one of the best free museums in NYC.
Location: 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY 10301
In the Bronx, on the Hudson Hill section of the city, you’ll find the beautiful 28-acre estate of Wavehill. This complex includes a cultural center and horticultural gardens and sits on the slopes overlooking the Hudson River. This museum is one of the best free museums in NYC.
As the name implies, it’s free to enter, and you can take in views of the river and the city below. The grounds are well-kept, and offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy both nature and culture.
There are many different types of events and programs at Wavehill throughout the year. From outdoor yoga to guided nature hikes, you’ll be sure to find something to suit your interests.
The park also hosts free events throughout the year, such as art workshops, garden tours, and historic walks. There is a shuttle that runs on the west side of Broadway, right in front of Burger King. Once you’re there, you can enjoy the museum for free and learn something new.
Location: 4900 Independence Ave, The Bronx, NY 10471
While the Museum of Natural History is one of the few free museums in NYC, the Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island Museums also offer free admission. Although this option is usually limited to the ticket counter, it is possible to find discounted tickets online.
New York City offers a variety of museums that cover topics from the beginning of time to dinosaurs. From art history to natural history, the museums in the Big Apple offer something for everyone.
The Queens Museum was founded in 1972 but was previously known as the Queens Museum of Art. Visitors can explore the museum’s impressive collection of art by browsing its permanent and special exhibitions.
Its most memorable exhibits are the world’s largest globe, the Unisphere, which sits in front of the museum. The museum also hosts many educational programs. The museum is well worth the subway ride.
Location: Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Building, Queens, NY 11368
If you love art and want to see some of the best pieces in New York City, then the Sculpture Center is an excellent choice. Founded in 1928, the SculptureCenter has been the home of contemporary sculpture and currently hosts exhibitions and public programs.
Admission is free on the first Friday of every month. To make the most of your visit, plan to arrive at least an hour early. This museum is one of the best free museums in NYC.
The Brooklyn Museum is located inside an actual 1936 subway station. Its collections include real vintage subway cars. It is focused on the history of the NYC subway system and is included in many tourist passes.
You can also learn more about the 9/11 disaster by visiting the 9/11 Museum. It shows films and photographs that detail the rescue efforts and other aspects of the tragedy. The Sculpture Center is a great option for families with children or adults looking for free things to do in New York City.
Location: 44-19 Purves St, Long Island City, NY 11101
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side at Fifth Avenue and 88th Street. This museum is one of the best free museums in NYC. Admission is free for children under 12 and is $5 for accompanied guests.
There is a pay-what-you-wish admission policy on Saturdays. Those who are in the military can also get free admission. The museum is not free on Mondays, but it does offer discounted admission to military members.
There are two entrances to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The museum has a permanent collection and temporary exhibits. The Thannhauser collection features works by French Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Futurist artists.
The collection also features more than thirty Picassos and works by Gaugin, including the famous non-objective sculptor Brancusi. There are also temporary exhibitions that take place every three to six months and can feature a variety of artists or focus on just one individual.
Location: 1071 5th Ave, New York, NY 10128
The Jewish Museum
The Jewish Museum is a cultural and art museum located on the famed Museum Mile in New York City. Its collection covers all facets of Jewish life, from ancient times to today. This museum is one of the best free museums in NYC.
As the first Jewish museum in the world, the museum is also one of the oldest. The museum features artwork and other exhibits from the world’s Jewish community. It is free to enter and offers a variety of exhibits to explore.
Free admission is available at many of the city’s top museums. You can also pay what you want to go to museums in New York, with some museums offering pay-what-you-wish admission days and hours.
Some museums also allow you to pay what you wish for admission, and others only charge a suggested minimum. No matter what your budget, there are many free museums in NYC to choose from. You can visit them and discover the richness of the city’s past and present.
Location: 1109 5th Ave &, E 92nd St, New York
American Folk Art Museum
The American Folk Art Museum is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan at 2, Lincoln Square, and Columbus Avenue at 66th Street. This museum is one of the best free museums in NYC. It is one of the top institutions dedicated to folk art and the creative expressions of self-taught artists.
Admission is free, and there are several ways to enjoy the museum. Here’s a list of free things to do in the area. Whether you’re visiting New York for work or pleasure, you’ll enjoy the collection at this free art museum.
The American Folk Art Museum is free to visit. It features both traditional and contemporary art. One exhibit explored the connection between Rothko and Phillips. Another one invited thirteen fashion designers to create original pieces for the Museum’s Folk Couture exhibit, which ran from January 21 to April 23, 2014.
Location: 2 Lincoln Square, New York, NY 10023
Socrates Sculpture Park
With free admission to the Socrates Sculpture Park, you can get a taste of contemporary art without breaking the bank. This park hosts multiple exhibitions each year featuring the work of world-renowned and emerging artists.
Artwork is designed to interact with the surroundings. Kids are invited to get up close and personal with the sculptures. The park also hosts several cool family events and programs, including fitness classes.
One of the most popular outdoor museums in NYC is the Socrates Sculpture Park. Located on the East River, this park is an urban creation space featuring works by famous artists. You can walk through the park to enjoy the art while admiring the skyline of Manhattan.
It is open every day except for Thanksgiving. It offers free admission to both the public and artists. This museum is one of the best free museums in NYC. Socrates Sculpture Park is free to enter and includes special programs for children.
Location: 32-01 Vernon Blvd, Queens, NY 11106
Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden
Sailors’ Snug Harbor, also known as Snug Harbour, is an architecturally significant 19th-century district in Staten Island. It is located in the towns of New Brighton and Kill Van Kull.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden has exhibits about maritime history and the history of the New York City waterfront. Also, this museum is one of the best free museums in NYC.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center &Botanical Garden is a year-round destination with gardens and exhibits that showcase a diverse collection of plants and flowers.
Springtime visitors will appreciate the beautiful cherry blossoms and magnolia trees, while autumn leaves will delight plant lovers. Easter, Halloween, Earth Day, and other events are ideal times to visit this botanical garden.
Location: 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY 10301
The Museum at FIT
Founded in 1923, the New York City Museum houses over 750,000 works of art. This museum is one of the best free museums in NYC. Its permanent exhibition, “New York At Its Core,” is one of the city’s most comprehensive presentations.
The museum is housed in the historic Alexander Hamilton US Custom House, which is a designated National Historic Landmark. Free admission is available on certain days. There are also special exhibitions and lectures, including lectures by leading fashion designers.
The Museum at FIT is a great option for a free day in NYC. The museum’s permanent collection of clothing, shoes, and accessories is free of charge, and the temporary exhibitions and programs are varied and entertaining.
It is home to over 50,000 works, including costumes, accessories, and fashion designs from the eighteenth century to the present. During the summer, the Museum offers numerous events for guests.
Location: 227 W 27th St, New York, NY 10001