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Free Museums – 13 Ways to Get into Museums for Free

Jersey Family Fun’s mission is to get our readers and their families out to all the fun and educational places our region has to offer. We do know though, that that can get EXPENSIVE. If only there were free museums you could visit OR if you could figure out how to visit a local museum without having to pay.

Luckily since we are also committed to saving families money, we have compiled some great ways to save money on admission to museums, and some of the best museums in the country are within our reach here in New Jersey.

Don’t let costly ticket prices stop you from enjoying the arts, history, and general culture with your kids of all ages. You can find free museums near me, near you, anywhere, not just in New Jersey. Keep reading for our best tips to get into museums for free and let us know if we’ve missed anything!

How to get into museums for free

Here are the best ways to find free museums and get into museums for free

Free Museums and Museums with Free Admission or Pay What You Wish Days

Use our website to look for free museums and museums with free admission or pay what you wish days. (Not local to New Jersey? You probably have a blogger near you that’s sharing details about free museums.)

We keep an updated list of free museums in New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York City and museums that offer FREE admission days! Some may be “pay what you wish” which means a small donation, or free – whatever you’re comfortable with. Days and times might be limited and the museum may be crowded during these times but they’re a great way to try out someplace new.

Explore Art with your kids at the Noyes Museum of Art
The Noyes Museum of Art is one that offers free admission every day.

There are a few museums that have designated free admission days. We have them organized by state or city. You can read about them in these blog posts.

From our blogging friends you can learn about more museums, across the country, that offer free admission. 

African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey
11 Things to Discover at the New Jersey Maritime Museum in Beach Haven New Jersey

Museum Pass Programs

Ask your library to offer a museum pass program or check our listing of New Jersey libraries with Museum Pass programs.

One of our favorite ways to visit museums is to take advantage of local library’s museum pass program. Usually sponsored by the local friends of the library, a library will lend you passes to some really great area museums and attractions and all you have to do is return the passes by the due date! Jersey Family Fun has a great list of libraries that offer these programs in New Jersey. 

Read more and find out about participating libraries by clicking the link below.

boy sketching designs from African American museum

On Bank of America Weekends many Museums become Free Museums

Use your Bank of America card on Bank of America Weekends.

Get one free admission to many local museums when you show your Bank of America or Merrill Lynch card on the first weekend of each month. You’ll have to pay for your guests but you can also combine with the other free programs we share in this article! If you have a large family and need extra free admissions this can be the way to add on.

Bank of America Free Admission Weekends

Read more and find out about participating museums by clicking the link below.

Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day

Register for the Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day Live to get into museums for free.

Museum Day Live is an annual event hosted by the Smithsonian Magazine. The program has been running for over 10 years. It did not happen in 2023, but it is expected to return for 2024.

During this event select museums around the country offer free admission to guests holding a Free Museum Day ticket. With so many museums participating, there are plenty of options for all families to enjoy.

National Smithsonian Day image

How do I get Free Museum Day tickets?

  • Visit the Smithsonian Magazine website, around January or February, to find a local participating museum.
  • Typically starting in February, you’ll be able to fill out an online form to request tickets (Please note that only one ticket per household for 2 people).
  • Tickets will then be emailed to you. Print the tickets out and bring them to the museum you selected.
  • The ticket will gain you access into the museum only, if there is a charge for parking or special exhibits you will need to pay additional for those.
  • Also please note if the museum reaches capacity, you will not be able to enter until space becomes available.

New Jersey Museums with FREE admission for Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day Live (list may change by year)

These are the museums that have participated in the past.

  • Historical Society of Princeton – Princeton  
  • Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum  – Teterboro 
  • Cooper Gristmill – Chester 
  • Cornelius Low House – Piscataway 
  • East Jersey Old Town Village – Piscataway 
  • Hamilton House – Clifton 
  • John F. Peto Studio Museum – Island Heights 
  • Hunterdon Art Museum – Clinton 
  • Dey Mansion – Wayne 
  • Museum of Early Trades and Crafts – Madison 
  • New Jersey State Museum and Planetarium – Trenton
  • New Jersey State House – Trenton 
  • Passaic County Arts Center – Hawthorne 
  • Red Brick Schoolhouse Museum- Chatham 
  • 1719 William Trent House Museum – Trenton
  • Liberty Hall Museum – Union  
  • Morven Museum – Princeton
  • Newark Museum of Art – Newark 
  • Historic Smithville Mansion – Eastampton x
  • Historic Speedwell – Morristown 
  • United States Golf Association Museum – Far Hills 
  • Wheaton Arts – Millville 
ways to get into museums for free

Military Discounts

Take advantage of military discounts.

Have you or a member of your family served in the military? Are you actively serving? In this article, we share local museums that offer free admission to members of the military or their families. Some offer this discount year-round while some only offer it in the summer. Take a look.

Local Family Attractions with Military Discounts

Make Other Museums a Free Museum with Museum Memberships

Use your current museum memberships to get in free to other museums across the country.

Reciprocal visiting is popular among the larger museums in the country. Don’t hesitate to ask if your museum is part of a reciprocal program that could get you a discount or free admission to other museums or attractions!

Visit a Museum’s Website

As great as Jersey Family Fun is, we do miss some of these freebies! Maybe a museum is celebrating its anniversary, or a local festival, and admission is free to all. Maybe they acknowledge Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Grandparents Day with free admission to designated family members? Always check out the website before you plan your visit!

Boy looking through telescope

Follow their social media accounts

Something we find as we scour the internet for the best deals and events is that many organizations and museums are inconsistent in updating their website versus their social media accounts. They may post events and in the details offer free admission or discounts. Log on, like, follow, and save! 

Buy group tickets

A “group” doesn’t have to be an organized group like Scouts or a camp! Many locations will offer a group discount and you might even qualify for a special tour or other perks. Some museums will provide one free ticket for every so many paid tickets. Other museums offer free admission to a chaperone.

Grab a few friends or family members and make your own group. You can save a few bucks and have a memorable day out (you’ll even save on gas and parking if you carpool!)

Crayola Experience

Check Groupon for B1G1 deals

Groupon deals come and go quickly so if you are thinking about a museum to visit, it’s wise to check daily. You’d be surprised what you can find there! Groupon also runs sales often so you’ll get even further discounts on already reduced admissions. 

Birthday Deals

Some museums offer free admission for a child or adult on their birthday. It never hurts to ask. Call in advance to find out or show up with your driver’s license or birth certificate for a minor and see if they will offer a free admission for the birthday guest.

TWO more BONUS ways to get into museums for free!

Call and ask.

Got a museum you want to visit? Piggybacking off the birthday pass idea, call the museum you want to visit directly and ask about free admission days or ticket deals. 

Hersey Story Museum exhibit

Sign up for a newsletter

Sign up for one of the Jersey Family Fun newsletters! If you’re on our weekend event newsletters, you’ll likely see when we’ve added another free admission to a museum day to our Calendar of Events. If you are on the statewide or regional newsletter, you’ll be notified when we create a NEW article about another museum offering free admission.

Do you have a secret to getting into museums for free? 

We’d love to know about it share it below.

Boy sits inside a Nj museum one of the free museums in New Jersey.

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