The Guggenheim Museum is one of 47 New York City institutions that participate in the Culture Pass Program. Photo by Moody Man via Flickr
The Guggenheim Museum is one of 47 New York City institutions that participate in the Culture Pass Program. Photo by Moody Man via Flickr

Got a Library Card? You Can Get into 47 Museums and Gardens for Free

New York is home to so many great cultural institutions, but visiting them all with your family regularly can seriously add up. We're always on the hunt for free times to visit and other ways to save on the best family fun in NYC, but with the help of a library card, FREE museum admission is just a few keystrokes away. If you're a current cardholder at the New York Public Library, you're going to want to read on.

Culture Pass, a program for library card holders at the New York, Brooklyn and Queens library systems, launched this past summer and allows you to receive free admission at a number of city institutions—47 to be exact—including big-name museums like The Guggenheim and The Whitney as well as several of our favorite kid-friendly spots like the Brooklyn Children's Museum, the Children's Museum of the Arts, and the New York Transit Museum. And it's not just museums: the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Wave Hill are on the list, too. The program launched with 33 institutions, so the number of participants has already grown!

Nabbing your free pass does, however, require a little advance planning. You'll have to log on to the Culture Pass website to reserve your free pass. Passes must be reserved and used on a particular day, and reservations open in two-month windows, with a new block being released on the first of each month. Currently, you can book dates through April. Some passes grant admission only for two adults, while others allow a family of four to visit for free.

A few key restrictions to note: To allow as many people as possible to access Culture Passes, each library card owner can visit a participating institution only once per calendar year and each card can be used to hold just two reservations at a time. If you change your plans, be sure to cancel your pass. Failure to use a pass means you're locked out of visiting that institution with a Culture Pass until the next calendar year.

You'll have to present a photo ID matching the name on your Culture Pass when you hit the museum, but parents of teens, take note: Culture Passes can be reserved by those as young as 13, so they can soak up culture this summer, too.

So, start browsing. Reservations can be searched by institution or available date.