(Updated 8/15/19) Heads up! The 15th Annual Free Museum Day is coming! It’s a fabulous gift to everyone from Smithsonian Magazine! It’s an annual one-day event (This year, Saturday, September 21, 2019) that encourages us to visit a museum to learn and appreciate our history, culture, art, and community. This year’s theme: Smithsonian Year of Music, an institution-wide initiative celebrating the Smithsonian’s vast musical collections and resources. “The Smithsonian Year of Music crosses disciplines, bringing together music-related resources in art, history, culture, science and education.”
Been to a museum lately?
If you think museums are dusty and boring, think again. Today’s museums are lively, fun, and interactive. Many of them have great cafes and restaurants, too. No matter how unusual or quirky your interest, there’s a place where objects and information are collected and preserved. Here’s a list of 25 of interesting, off-beat museums across the country, in case you need a reason to take a Great American Road Trip.
I can’t promise any of them will be part of Free Museum Day, but there WILL be 1500+ museums, gardens, zoos, and cultural institutions that are eager to welcome you and another guest this year. Did I mention FREE?!?! The full list is here. You can filter by zip code, state, or the name of the place you’re interested in. Yes, they make it that easy for you…
Tell me more!
This is a serious bargain! Here are some examples of normal adult admission fees:
- Baltimore: B&O Railroad Museum $20
- Boston: Museum of Fine Arts $25
- Chicago: Adler Planetarium $34.95
- Fremont, OH: Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library $20
- Huntsville, AL: U.S. Space & Rocket Center $25
- Lake George, NY: Fort William Henry $17
- Minneapolis: Mill City Museum $12
- New Orleans: National World War II Museum $28
- New York City: RubinMuseum of Art $19
- Phoenix: Desert Botanical Garden $24.95
- Sarasota, FL: The Ringling $25
- San Diego: Air & Space Museum $19.95
- Seattle: Museum of Flight $22
- Tacoma, WA: Museum of Glass $17
- Washington DC: Newseum $24.95
Of course, there are many less expensive museums, too. Some are always free. The one I’m planning to visit has a modest $8 fee. I didn’t even know it existed until I checked the list by zip code. That’s the whole idea…to get us out for this “annual celebration of boundless curiosity.”
What to know before you go
As with all things in life and travel, there are rules and conditions:
- You must have the official Museum Day ticket for entry.
- Participants are allowed to download one ticket per email address. The ticket provides free general admission on Saturday, September 21, 2019, for two people.
- You are only allowed to download one ticket to one museum on Museum Day. Once you click “generate ticket,” you won’t be able to change your museum selection.
- If the museum you chose gets too crowded, you may be asked to wait before entry.
Need more inspiration?
Watch this short “Why Museums Matter” video from PBS. We’re living in a time when treasures are public…even if they were stolen. (Hello, British Museum!)
“Museums provide places of relaxation and inspiration. And most importantly, they are a place of authenticity. We live in a world of reproductions – the objects in museums are real. It’s a way to get away from the overload of digital technology.” —Thomas P. Campbell
Don’t pass up this opportunity. It won’t come around for another year.
More posts for the curious traveler: