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Boston Museums for Free (some nationwide)

Figured it was time to update this old post. I love museums and I like it even more if I can visit for free. I've compiled a list of ways to get in to a bunch of museums around Boston for free so that you can also indulge without needing to pay admission. The first few on this list are available nationwide and you can look for museums near you at those websites. The rest are mostly around Boston and are behind an LJ-cut.

If you know of other ways and places to get in free, let me know and I'll add it to the list!

I also tried setting up this public Google Calendar. I started with tracking free museum times and then added other free events too.
https://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=70rv5sankat6r2i3mbre7rab8g%40group.calendar.google.com&ctz=America/New_York

Bank of America Museums On Us (nationwide)
http://museums.bankofamerica.com/
Discussion: http://forums.slickdeals.net/showthread.php?sduid=0&t=1389299
Got a Bank of America ATM, credit, or check card? Each card holder can get into a bunch of museums free on the first full weekend of each month. Check website to find participating museums (or zoos and gardens) near you. In the Boston area, this deal gets you into:

Target sponsored nights (nationwide)
http://sites.target.com/site/en/corporate/page.jsp?contentId=PRD03-002065
Here's another deal where a big corporation sponsors a bunch of free or cheap admissions. Check website to find one near you. We went to the MoMA in NYC for their Target Free Thursday night and the line was so long we were tempted to give up. But we joined the line and it moved surprisingly quickly. Boston options are:
- Boston Children's Museum Target $1 Fridays 5-9pm (bostonkids.org)
Discussion: http://forums.slickdeals.net/showthread.php?sduid=0&t=1328567

Museum Day - courtesy Smithsonian Magazine
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/
Go to the website and print out a coupon good for free admission for 2 people on Sept 29, 2012.

National Parks Fee-Free Days (Thanks thesoxgap!)
While many of our national parks never charge entrance fees, many others do. However, they will all waive entrance fees on these dates (3 other dates already passed)
- Sept 29, 2012 (National Public Lands Day)
- Nov 10-12, 2012 (Veterans Day weekend)
http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm

National Parks Annual Pass
http://www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm
  • You can get a free annual pass if you're in the U.S. Military:
    Available to U.S. military members and dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard and also, Reserve and National Guard members.
  • Only $10 for a lifetime pass if you're 62 years old and older.


    Free "Fun Fridays" for the Entire Summer (Massachusetts)
    http://www.highlandstreet.org/special-programs/free-fun-fridays.html
    Highland Street Foundation is sponsoring free admission on Fridays to different attractions in Massachusetts (mostly Boston area).
    Already missed these for 2012 but be sure to check Highland Street Foundation's website next year in May. They had different options for Friday from June through August.

    Boston Children's Museum, Boston, MA
    bostonchildrensmuseum.org

    Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA
    www.danforthmuseum.org

    Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College (Thanks thesoxgap!)
    www.davismuseum.wellesley.edu
    Free admission all the time.

    DeCordova Sculpture Park & Museum, Lincoln, MA
    www.decordova.org
    Admission is charged while the museum is open. But after the museum closes, you can drive on in and enjoy the outdoor sculpture park for free. We saw many people drive in, pitch a blanket, and eat a picnic dinner or read for a while. I'd go all the time if I lived closer. Whenever they're installing the new exhibits, they'll offer a reduced admission price of $7 for just the outdoor sculpture park (which tends to be my favorite part anyhow). If you head out this way, check out the Gropius House for $10. (Chance to go there for free on Sept 29, 2012 for Museum Day if you print tickets first)

    Franklin Park Zoo, Dorcester, MA
    zoonewengland.org

      Can't seem to find any ways to get in free here anymore.
    • Get a discounted $6 pass through the library (for example, Cambridge Public Library)
    • For the 1st Saturday of every month, get in at children's admission price of $11 (instead of $17)
    • Admission is 1/2 price from 10am-4pm on the Friday after Thanksgiving
    • All military personnel who present a current, official Military ID at the Admissions booth will be admitted into the Zoo for half price.
    • Free for children under 2
    • Check Highland Street Foundation website next summer since this has been included in their Free Fun Fridays for the last few years.


    Gropius House, Lincoln, MA
    http://www.historicnewengland.org/historic-properties/homes/Gropius%20House
    I love the look and feel of this house. Come see the home of one of the founders of the Bauhaus movement.

    • Free for Lincoln, MA, residents
    • Free for Historic New England members
    • Free on Sept 29, 2012 for Museum Day (print ticket ahead of time)


    Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge, MA (Glass Flowers!)
    www.hmnh.harvard.edu

    • Free the first full weekend of each month for holders of a Bank of America card (see Bank of America Museums On Us)
    • Free to Massachusetts residents every Sunday morning (year-round) from 9:00 am to noon and on Wednesdays from 3:00 to 5:00 pm (September through May) excluding commercial groups
    • Free with Harvard ID (plus one guest)
    • Get in for $4 using pass from the library (for example, Cambridge Public Library


    Harvard Art Museum, Cambridge, MA (the Sackler Museum)
    www.harvardartmuseum.org

    • Cambridge Public Library card holders: Free
    • For Massachusetts residents, free on Saturday 10am to noon
    • Under 18 years of age: Free
    • Free with Harvard ID (plus one guest)


    (Harvard's) Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
    www.peabody.harvard.edu

    • Massachusetts residents: Free on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. (September through May) and Sunday mornings (year-round) from 9 a.m. to 12 noon (excluding commercial groups)
    • Under 3 years of age: Free
    • Free with Harvard ID


    The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA
    icaboston.org

    • Target Free Thursday Nights 5-9pm for everyone
    • Free admission for youth 17 and under (sponsored by State Street Foundation)
    • Free for Boston University students (Thanks tempobay!)
    • Free with Harvard student, faculty, or staff ID (http://ofa.fas.harvard.edu/beat/free.php)
    • Free for families (up to 2 adults with children 12 and under) on the last Saturday of each month (excludes December).
    • Check Highland Street Foundation website next summer since this has been included in their Free Fun Fridays for the last few years.


    Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
    www.gardnermuseum.org
    I love just sitting in the indoor garden courtyard (shown here

    • Free if your name is Isabella
    • Free on your birthday. (If your birthday falls on a Monday (when museum is closed) then go the Sunday before or Tuesday after your birthday.)
    • Get $2 off admission if:
      - you're a member of the Museum of Fine Arts
      - you bring in your MFA ticket stub within 2 days of MFA visit
      - you wear any Red Sox paraphernalia (Isabella had season tickets)
    • Free for several area college students (includes Harvard, MIT). See list of participating schools.
    • See their website for more discounts and free offers http://www.gardnermuseum.org/visit/offers_and_discounts


    John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
    www.jfklibrary.org

    • Free for children 12 and under
    • Check for passes to get in for $3 from Public Library
    • Check Highland Street Foundation website next summer since this has been included in their Free Fun Fridays for the last few years.


    MIT Museum
    http://web.mit.edu/museum

    • Free every second Friday of the month from 5-8pm
    • Free on Sundays 10am to Noon
    • Free for kids under 5
    • Free with MIT ID
    • Free in July and August for Cambridge Public Library cardholders
    • Free admission to Compton Gallery and Hart Nautical Gallery


    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
    www.mfa.org

    • Wednesday Nights Free from 4pm to 9:45pm (they ask for voluntary donations)
    • Free admission for kids 6 and under
    • Free admission for youths 7-17 on weekdays after 3 pm, weekends, and Public School holidays
    • Free on Monday, October 8, 2012 (Fall Open House)
    • Free for Northeastern students/alumni (Thanks pizzaface78!)
    • Free for Boston University students (Thanks tempobay!)
    • Free for a bunch of student IDs. Check this list to see if your school participates. (Includes Harvard, MIT, Boston College, Boston Univ, Emerson, and Tufts student IDs
    • Some need-based non-profits can request a community visit for up to 25 people.
    • Check Highland Street Foundation website next summer since this has been included in their Free Fun Fridays for the last few years.


    Museum of Science, Boston, MA
    www.mos.org
    I couldn't find anything for this one but dale62676 commented.
    - Get a pass from the public libraries for $5 admission.
    - Free for MIT students, teachers, and active duty military

    New England Aquarium, Boston, MA
    www.neaq.org
    Had a hard time finding much of anything for this one. Find a member to take you for free as their guest?

    • Free for Massachusetts K-12 teachers (details)
    • Discounted admission for College students but it's still kind of expensive


    Stone Zoo, Stoneham, MA
    zoonewengland.org

      Can't seem to find any ways to get in free here anymore.
    • Get a discounted $6 pass through the library (for example, Cambridge Public Library)
    • For the 1st Saturday of every month, get in at children's admission price of $11 (instead of $17)
    • Admission is 1/2 price from 10am-4pm on the Friday after Thanksgiving
    • All military personnel who present a current, official Military ID at the Admissions booth will be admitted into the Zoo for half price.
    • Free for children under 2
    • Check Highland Street Foundation website next summer since this has been included in their Free Fun Fridays for the last few years.


    Otis House
    www.historicnewengland.org/historic-properties/homes/otis-house
    Tour this mansion in Boston's West End.
    Free for Historic New England members and Boston residents.

    Boston Fire Museum
    www.bostonfiremuseum.com
    Free admission though donations are accepted.

    Public Open Night at the BU Observatory
    www.bu.edu/astronomy/events/public-open-night-at-the-observatory/
    On clear Wednesday evenings, you can go stargazing for free.

    Museum of Medical History and Innovation
    http://www.massgeneral.org/history/russellmuseum/
    Admission is free but it's only open on weekdays from 9am to 5pm.

    Commonwealth Museum
    www.sec.state.ma.us/sec/mus/museum/index.htm
    Free admission but another one that's only open on weekdays.

    Museum of Bad Art
    http://www.museumofbadart.org/about/dedham.php
    Admission is free.

    USS Constitution, Charlestown, MA
    Museum: ussconstitutionmuseum.org
    Ship: www.history.navy.mil/ussconstitution/
    Come see Old Ironsides, the nation's oldest commissioned ship. Tours of the ship are free and admission to the museum is by voluntary donation.

    Museum Passes from Public Libraries
    Boston Public Library: http://www.bpl.org/general/circulation/museum_passes.htm
    Cambridge Public Library: http://www.eventkeeper.com/code/events.cfm?curOrg=CAMBRIDGE&curApp=passes
    Somerville Public Library: http://www.somervillepubliclibrary.org/museumpasses.html

    Boston Symphony Orchestra
    www.bso.org
    - Harvard undergrads can get free tickets (details)
    - MIT students can attend for free with purchase of $5 College Card (details
    - Harvard School of Public Health mentions getting into up to 15 performances for $25 (details)
    - If you're under 40 years old, you can get a pair of tickets for $20 each for the 2012-13 season (details)




    Thread in b0st0n: http://b0st0n.livejournal.com/7347527.html

    • 1
    Free entrance fees to museums, parks and other places is wonderful. I always try to take advantage of them when I can. Not this time though, since am not in the US.

    I've had that lifetime National Parks Senior Pass since last year. I misplaced it though, so I had to buy one again when we went up to Yosemite National Parks last month. It's very useful and a good value. Everybosy in the vehicle with the senior gets in free. :)

    Nice! So there's a good reason to go on vacation with grandparents...

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