FREE Museum Days in Fairfield & New Haven Counties

FREE museum days in Fairfield and New Haven Counties

Whether it's getting out of the house in the winter, or filling massive amounts of free time in the summer, having somewhere to go that's free -- even better!  A host of museums in Fairfield County and New Haven County have caught on to that fact, offering up free events in the coming days, and even year-round in some cases.

Stepping Stones, Norwalk
The crown jewel of kids' museums in lower Connecticut has offered it's 'Get Into It! FREE' program for quite some time.  Every first Thursday of the month, Stepping Stones swings open its doors for a freebie evening of fun, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Mathews Park, 303 West Avenue,  Norwalk, CT 06850  203-899-0606

Bruce Museum, Greenwich
Children under 5 are always free at the Bruce, but on Tuesdays, their adult caregivers and older siblings are in for nothing, too.

In addition, the museum offers monthly "First Sunday Bird Walk at Greenwich Point Park", free with no registration required.  

1 Museum Drive, Greenwich, CT 06830-7157  203-869-0376

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield
This independent art museum is the only one in Connecticut devoted to contemporary art.  Admission is always free for children under 18, K-12 teachers, and military families. Anytime you visit, you can also catch a docent-led tour free of charge. On third Saturdays and school holidays from noon - 5 p.m., the Aldrich also offers free family art activities with the price of parent admission.

258 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877  203-438-4519

New Haven Museum, New Haven
Why not check out the Puritanical roots of this New England city on the first Sunday of every month -- it won't even cost you a nickel. 

114 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06510  203-562-4183

Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, New Haven
During the school year, you can pop into this world-renowned museum for nary a penny on Thursdays from 2 to 5 p.m.  They also offer free admission on the Sunday and Monday of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend for the Martin Luther King Jr. "Festival of Environmental Justice", the last Saturday in August for "Summer's Last Roar," and during their annual "¡Fiesta Latina!" event, typically in October.  That all being said, museum parking is very limited on weekdays, so bring some cash for that!

170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT  203-432-5050

Eli Whitney Museum and Workshop
The site of the Eli Whitney Museum preserves the location of the inventor's first American factory, built in 1798. The museum is FREE and open on weekends to enjoy its permanent installations: The Factory Model, the Water Lab, The Marble Wall and the Gun Collection. For a small fee, kids can get hands-on in the Walk-in Program.  

915 Whitney Avenue, Hamden, CT 06517  203-777-1833

FREE FOR EVERYONE ... all.of.the.time.

The Barnum Museum
In June 2010, a rare-for-these-parts tornado devastated the historical building housing the iconic entertainer's collections. The historical building is in restoration for now. But you can take a look at how they evacuated the valuables during the storm, and how they're repairing others.  Just enter through the back at the People's United Bank Gallery entrance.  Thursdays and Fridays only, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  

820 Main Street, Bridgeport, CT 06604  203-331-1104

Housatonic Museum of Art
If your kids are like mine, they whine when I mention an art gallery... then I can hardly drag them out once we get there! The Housatonic Museum of Art is the perfect venue for the whole family to take in art at your own pace. Free and open to the public all year long, except weekends (check the calendar before you go). Open until 7 p.m. on Thursday evenings. With a vibrant permanent collection and changing exhibitions, the HMA is a hidden gem in the center of Fairfield County.

Lafayette Hall, 900 Lafayette Blvd., Bridgeport, CT 06604  203-332-5052

Fairfield University Art Museum (FUAM)
The FUAM opened in 2010, offer permanent rotation exhibitions in the Bellermine and Walsh Galleries. It boasts a collection of art that spans the globe and time.  You and your brood can view pieces from the Bronze Age to the Baroque, Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to  4 p.m. The Walsh is also closed on Tuesdays.  They do open on occasional Saturdays, and close on University holidays, so check their calendar before you go. 

1073 North Benson Rd., Fairfield, CT 06824  203-254-4046

Yale University Art Gallery
Unlike the FUAM, you won't get through this one before lunch.  The collection spans three buildings, so pick a continent or medium, and see what you find!  Stop by the Information Desk first to gather supplies for self-guided family activities, including drawing materials, worksheets, and felt kits.  The second Sunday of the month is Family Day, when they use unique storytelling to help children view art in new ways.  They even provide drawing materials for older children.  Their Annual Family Day is coming up Sunday, Jan. 26 from 1-3:30pm.
Hours: Tues - Fri 10am - 5pm; Thur (Sept-June) 10am - 8pm; weekends 11am - 5pm.  Closed Mondays.

1111 Chapel Street (at York Street) New Haven, CT  203-432-0600


Photo courtesy of the Eli Whitney Museum.
Originally published on 1/22/13


Stepping Stones
303 West Avenue Mathews Park
06850 Norwalk , CT
Phone: 203-899-0606
41° 6' 34.6644" N, 73° 25' 5.5416" W
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
06830 Greenwich , CT
Phone: 203-869-0376
41° 1' 13.5696" N, 73° 37' 15.4596" W
Fairfield University Museum of Art
1073 North Benson Rd.
06824 Fairfield , CT
Phone: 203-254-4046
41° 9' 27.4536" N, 73° 15' 21.204" W
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
06877 Ridgefield , CT
Phone: 203-438-4519
41° 16' 36.75" N, 73° 29' 52.0116" W
New Haven Museum
114 Whitney Ave.
06510 New Haven , CT
Phone: 203-562-4183
41° 18' 49.6944" N, 72° 55' 17.742" W
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
170 Whitney Avenue
New Haven , CT
Phone: 203-432-5050
41° 18' 54.3708" N, 72° 55' 15.0384" W
Eli Whitney Museum and Workshop
915 Whitney Avenue
06517 Hamden , CT
Phone: (203) 777-1833
41° 20' 5.2908" N, 72° 54' 41.3604" W
Housatonic Museum of Art
900 Lafayette Street Lafayette Hall
06604 Bridgeport , CT
Phone: (203) 332-5052
41° 10' 20.9748" N, 73° 11' 26.8368" W
Yale University Art Gallery
1111 Chapel Street New Haven, CT
06510 New Haven , CT
Phone: 203-432-0600
41° 18' 30.0312" N, 72° 55' 50.2392" W
The Barnum Museum
820 Main Street
06604 Bridgeport , CT
Phone: 203-331-1104
41° 10' 32.3904" N, 73° 11' 17.358" W