The Best Free Museums in the USA

The Best Free Museums in the USA

From New York to L.A. there are hundreds of fascinating museums for visitors to explore. If you’re an art, fashion, or photography lover, you’ll certainly appreciate this curated list of some of the best museum in the USA that offer free admission!

2013 MFIT exhibition A Queer History of Fashion (Photo by Museum at FIT)

The Museum at FIT

Located right in the heart of New York City, The Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) is the only museum in the city dedicated solely to the art of fashion. Exhibits feature innovative and award-winning displays and run special programs year-round, such as exhibition talks and tours, presentations from leading designers, lectures, and book signings.There are three galleries in the museum which feature a number of permanent and temporary exhibits, including a section devoted to FIT student and faculty shows. Facilitators work to both entertain and educate its visitors about the art of fashion and hope inspire the next generation of designers. Admission to the exhibitions is always free and is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday.


Center Hall at the National Museum (Photo by PUMPZA)

Smithsonian Museums

The Smithsonian in Washington DC is the world’s largest museum complex. All of its 20 museums and galleries are free to the public. From the origins of man to exploring the future, it could take days to see everything each museum has to offer. Most of them are located right on the National Mall, including the Air and Space Museum, the American History Museum, and the Natural History Museum. It also houses some of the most famous artifacts in history like the original Star-Spangled Banner from Fort McHenry, George Washington’s war uniform, and even the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. The museums are all open every day of the year, with the exception of December 25th, but hours of operation varies depending on the location.


The Museum of Contemporary Photography Hall (Photo by The Museum of Contemporary Photography)

The Museum of Contemporary Photography

The Museum of Contemporary Photography is a free museum on the campus of Columbia College Chicago. It is the leading photography museum in the Midwest, with a focus on offering students, faculty, and researchers a space to explore photography. The museum has a permanent collection of over 15,000 photographs by over 1,500 artists. It also holds a number of talks and shows aimed at promoting their mission of a greater understanding and appreciation of the artistic, cultural, and political implication of the image in our world today. Visitors can visit any day of the week as long as the college campus is open.


The Baltimore Museum of Art (Photo by Jon Bilous)

Baltimore Museum of Art

The Baltimore Museum of Art wants everyone to “enjoy the power of art”. That’s the reason admission is free for all here. Located in Charles Village, just north of the downtown area of Baltimore, Maryland, it is the largest museum in Maryland and home to more than 95,000 art pieces. It’s collection houses art from every continent and is known to house one of the largest Andy Warhol collections in the world, as well as the famed Cone Collection of modern art. Along with its huge selection of art, it also features new interactive exhibits and events year round for all ages, though some of these do include a small fee to enjoy. The museum welcomes visitors Wednesday through Sunday from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.


The Alamo in San Antonio Texas (Photo by robert cicchetti)

The Alamo

Everyone remembers The Alamo from their elementary school history books. Take a trip to refresh your memory with a free visit to the historic icon in San Antonio, Texas. The Alamo is open to the public with four buildings on the premises; the Shrine, the Long Barrack, the Gift Shop/Museum, and Alamo Hall. In each are exhibits on the history of Texas and the Alamo’s role in the Texas Revolution. The site has over 2.5 million visitors each year. Along with the museum on the grounds, there are also guided tours and events throughout the season that transport you back in time to relive history. It is open year round to guests with hours varying depending on the season.


Frye Art Museum Gallery (Photo by John Ulman)

The Frye Art Museum

What started as just a private collection of Charles and Emma Frye in the early 1950s has since turned into The Frye Art Museum. It serves to continue their legacy of bringing free art to the people of the Seattle area. In addition to the many exhibits at the museum, visitors can participate in art talks with curators and educators, take free interactive guided tours, and view documentary film screenings. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M.


Robert Irwin’s Central Garden at the Getty Center (Photo by Ceri Breeze)

The Getty Center

In the hills of West Los Angeles sits The Getty Center, with its modern architecture, magnificent view of the city, labyrinthine gardens, and expansive exhibits of Western art.  The best part is that not only is there free admission, but visitors can see special exhibits, gallery talks, music events, and even curator-led tours for no additional fee. The museum features the personal collection of businessman and art collector J. Paul Getty, who sought to make fine art more available to the public and share its “civilizing influence.” It is open to the public on Tuesday through Sunday from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M., with late night hours on Saturdays.

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