Free Times at NYC Museums: When to Visit at No Cost
It's been a while since we've updated our roundup of free times at NYC museums. Since then, one of our favorites has moved, a new family destination has opened and admission prices have climbed higher than a skyscraper. But don't worry: We've got the scoop about when to visit your favorite museums, zoos and gardens at no cost, including the children's museums, and info on offbeat institutions you may not know about, many of which are always free or suggested donation.
Children's Museums, Zoos and Gardens with Free Times
The Bronx Zoo – Pay what you wish Wednesdays for general admission. Total Experience activities cost extra.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden – Free all day on Tuesdays, and Saturdays from 10am-noon. Free on winter weekdays November-February.
Brooklyn Children's Museum – Free the third Thursday of every month 4-7pm and the first full weekend of every month 2-5pm (except holidays).
Children's Museum of the Arts – Pay what you wish Thursdays 4-6pm
Children's Museum of Manhattan – Free the first Friday of every month 5-8pm
New York Aquarium – Pay what you wish on Fridays 3pm-closing
New York Botanical Garden – Free grounds admission all day on Wednesdays, and Saturdays 10-11am. Special exhibits cost extra.
New York Hall of Science – Free September through June on Fridays 2-5pm and Sundays 10-11am.
Queens Botanical Garden – Free Wednesdays 3-6pm and Sundays 4-6pm. Free during the winter November 1-March 31.
The Staten Island Children's Museum – Although this museum doesn't have regularly scheduled free times, when public schools are closed, it often hosts "Cool School Holiday" free admission days, like Columbus Day and Martin Luther King Day. Check the calendar for more info.
Staten Island Zoo – Free Wednesdays 2-4:45pm
Free Museum Programs
Several museums offer regularly scheduled free programs. In addition to no-cost admission, visitors are treated to special tours and activities. Sometimes these events require tickets (which are free), and they're all either aimed at families or are kid-friendly.
Brooklyn Museum First Saturdays – First Saturday of every month 5-11pm
El Museo del Barrio Super Sábado – Third Saturday of every month 11am-6pm
Museum of Modern Art – MoMA offers multiple free programs for families, including Tours for Fours, A Closer Look for Kids and Family Films. Tickets are required and distributed first-come, first-serve.
New Museum First Saturdays for Families – First Saturday of every month 10am-noon
Queens Museum Second Sundays for Families – Second Sunday of every month 1-4pm
Studio Museum Free Sundays – Sundays noon-6pm
Museums with Suggested General Admission
American Museum of Natural History – Special exhibits and experiences cost extra.
Museums That Are Always Free
Sony Wonder Technology Lab – Certain workshops cost extra
Grown-up Museums with Free Hours
Asia Society Museum – Free on Fridays 6-9pm Labor Day through June
Guggenheim Museum – Pay what you wish Saturdays 5:45-7:45pm
Historic Richmond Town – Free Fridays 1-5pm
International Center of Photography – Pay what you wish Fridays 5-8pm
The Jewish Museum – Free on Saturdays 11am-5:45pm
The Morgan Library & Museum – Free on Fridays 7-9pm
Museum of Arts and Design – Pay what you wish Thursdays 6-9pm
Museum of Chinese in America – Free on Thursdays 11am-9pm
Museum of Jewish Heritage – Free on Wednesdays 4-8pm
Museum of Modern Art – Free on Fridays 4-8pm
Museum of the Moving Image – Free on Fridays 4-8pm
The Noguchi Museum – Pay what you wish first Friday of every month 10am-5pm
Rubin Museum of Art – Free on Fridays 6-10pm
Whitney Museum – Pay what you wish Fridays 6-9pm