Guide to Free Museums and Galleries in New York City

The Guggenheim Museum (Image Credit: Bigstock Images)

Here at Gray Line New York, we like to write helpful guides for anyone visiting our city. We think New York is an incredible city and we have hundreds of happy customers each day who use our hop-on hop-off NYC bus tours to get around see NYC their way. Because we want visitors to see as much as possible of our city, we like to provide lots of helpful information– even if the tours and attractions we’re pointing people towards have very little to do with our tours! However, because we think Gray Line New York will always offer guests the best way to get around NYC, any special events or activities in our city are relevant to our customers. 

A Brief Introduction to New York City’s Museums and Art Galleries

New York City has some of the best museums and galleries in the world. Anyone passionate about history or art is guaranteed to have an incredible time visiting one or two of New York’s museums on their next visit. But any trip to NYC can be expensive if you’re not careful. Just as our 72-hours hop-on hop-off NYC bus tour is the cheapest way to get around the city for three days, there is a cheaper way to visit New York’s museums! Some of New York’s museums are free to enter, some have free days, and some have specific times that go for discounted rates. This guide will help you save as much money as possible hopping from museum to museum around the city!

The Museum of Modern Art

Andy Warhol’s famous pictures of Marilyn Monroe in the MoMA (Image Credit: Bigstock Images)

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York is widely regarded as perhaps the greatest gallery of modern art on the planet. You can find art from the 18th century onwards, including Van Gogh’s famous Starry Night and works by Vermeer and Rembrandt. With such incredible artworks and a sterling reputation, it’s surprising that the MoMA has a free entry option at all – but it does! You can gain free access on Friday’s between 4 pm and 8 pm. Just beware that there is usually a line of people waiting to get in, so get there early to avoid disappointment. 

The American Folk Art Museum (AFAM)

Luckily, you won’t have to wait for a specific window of time to get into the AFAM for free: it’s always free! Found on Lincoln Square, the AFAM is an amazing showcase of the United States’ varied folk artists and artworks. This museum focuses work by self-taught artists and craftspeople, both past and present, and it offers a fascinating and refreshing look at creativity and expression that you are less likely to find at a traditional art gallery. 

Brooklyn Museum 

Front view of the Brooklyn Museum (Image Credit: Bigstock Images)

Brooklyn Museum offers free entry on the first Saturday of every month, from 5 pm to 11 pm. This is more of a social evening than a straightforward free entry to a museum, so get ready for food, drinks, and performances. Famously, the Brooklyn Museum was the first American museum to display African artifacts as artworks. This museum also boasts over 4,000 Egyptian artifacts and an entire section of the museum devoted to feminist art. 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is often just referred to as “The Guggenheim”, and it’s one of the most famous art museums in the world. It can be found in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. This museum is an architect’s paradise as the rotunda in the museum was designed by the city’s famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. The Guggenheim has especially well-developed Impressionist, Post-impressionist, Modern, and Contemporary Art exhibitions. There is no completely free entry to The Guggenheim, but there is a pay-what-you-wish policy on Saturdays from 5.45pm to 7.45pm. This is a great opportunity to see this museum for a little less than the cost of a standard ticket. 

The National Museum of the American Indian

 The National Museum of the American Indian (Image Credit: Bigstock Images)

This museum is an official extension of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. As this is part of the Smithsonian Institute, tickets are completely free, whenever you visit. This is a brilliant museum for anyone interested to learn more about Native Americans: their different civilizations, traditions, and artworks. It’s also a huge bonus that the building for the National Museum of the American Indian looks incredible!

Queens Museum

The Queens Museum is always pay what you wish, on any day, at any time of the year. This museum is based in the famous borough of Queens in New York City. Queens Museum, like the borough, has a distinctive, multicultural demographic and this reflected in its stunning range of art and in its amazing educational programs. Perhaps the best reason to visit the Queens Museum is to see The Panorama of the City of New York. This was first created by over 100 people working on the project, but the project was led by architectural model makers Raymond Lester & Associates. The entire panorama is a scaled-down 3D model of New York City, complete with scaled-down buildings, bridges, and skyscrapers. This project is a truly breath-taking accomplishment and it took over three years to make!

We hope this guide has helped convince a few readers who love museums and art galleries to visit NYC. If you have any questions about our range of New York City bus tours and services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Start planning your next big trip to New York today!

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