Visit Museums for Free This Week

A senior woman looks at paintings in an art museum
Photo by Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock.com

Two annual celebrations of museums — Art Museum Day and International Museum Day — will coincide this week. As a result, museums across the nation and abroad will offer free admission, primarily on Thursday.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Art Museum Day

Now in its eighth year, Art Museum Day is organized by the Association of Art Museum Directors. It’s celebrated on and around May 18 in honor of the “belief that the arts are a crucial element of civil society, essential to the well-being of our communities and our democracies,” according to the association.

Last year, about 175 museums participated by offering free admission or special programs or events.

The association’s website offers a handy list of museums that are participating this year, organized by state and including details of what type of freebies or special events each museum is offering.

International Museum Day

International Museum Day dates back to 1977, when it was established by the International Council of Museums. It’s celebrated on and around May 18 with the aim of raising the public’s awareness of museums’ role in the development of society.

Last year, more than 35,000 museums across some 145 countries participated by offering free admission or special events.

The council’s website features an interactive map of museums that are participating this year.

Other ways visit museums for free

If a museum you were hoping to visit for free this week isn’t participating in Art Museum Day or International Museum, you will probably have another chance to go there for free.

As I wrote in “5 Ways to Visit Top Museums Across America for Free“:

“Thousands of institutions across the country offer free admission every day, or on certain days of the week, month or year. They include museums of art, history, science, culture and industry, as well as children’s museums.”

Check out that article for examples of fantastic museums that are:

  • Always free.
  • Free on certain days of the week or month.
  • Free to certain groups of people like locals or military families.

Also, if you have a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card, it’s good for free admission to certain museums on the first full weekend of every month. For more details, see “24 Days When You Can Visit 150 Museums for Free.”

Do you have any tips for saving money on visiting museums? Share them below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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