With the unveiling of New York Public Library’s new Culture Pass initiative, the city’s cultural institutions just became much more accessible to everyone. But the system is not without its flaws. Only a certain number of passes are available per day for each attraction, and the passes for the Brooklyn Botanical Garden are reserved through September 1st, at the time of writing.
If you want to make last minute museum plans, you may be out of luck - which is precisely why today is your lucky day.
With our list of free and pay-what-you-will museums and attractions around NYC, you’ll never find yourself without anything to do. We have activities for every day of the week, whether or not you have a Culture Pass.
Sunday (Free 10-11 AM)
New York Hall of Science (47-01 111th St, Queens)
Perfect for lazy Sundays and science enthusiasts alike, NYSCI features exhibits ranging from the process behind animation to mathematically-inspired artwork.
The historical museum always has new rotating exhibits, making every visit fresh and exciting. And not paying the $16 for admission? Who wouldn’t want that?
Monday (Pay what you will 10 AM - 5 PM)
Museum at Eldridge Street Synagogue (12 Elridge St, Manhattan)
If you’re looking for a piece of history to visit on your Monday off, especially if you have an interest in American Jewish history, Eldridge Street Synagogue is ideal.
As the “first great house of worship” build by Eastern European Jewish immigrants in the US, Eldridge is home to no shortage of history. The curators have rounded this out with a variety of educational opportunities and art installations.
Tuesday (Free 5 - 9 PM)
9/11 Museum (180 Greenwich St, Manhattan)
One of the finest museums the city has to offer, located on the site of the original towers, the the 9/11 Museum is at once exhaustively curated, and beautiful.
It holds a mind-boggling number of artifacts related to the 9/11 attacks, from the build-up to the city’s inspiring recovery efforts.
This quality comes at a price - you’re looking at $24 admission for adults on normal days. Tuesday is your chance to avoid that.
Wednesday (Free all day)
New York Botanical Garden (2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx)
Sometimes, you need a day in the garden. We won’t tell your boss - just do it for you.
Do it on Wednesday for your wallet, because admission is free all day. You’ll still have to pay for any special events or exhibitions, but the deal is still great.
Thursday (Pay what you will, 6 - 9 PM)
Museum of Arts and Design (2 Columbus Circle, Manhattan)
Design is a tricky intersection between artistic and practical values, which is precisely what makes it worthy of having a dedicated museum.
Pay whatever you want to see the museum’s historical and contemporary references to the best in design on Thursday evenings - spend some time after work enriching your perspective.
Friday (Free 4 - 8 PM)
Museum of Modern Art (11 W 53rd St, Manhattan)
The MoMA has one of the best-curated collections of modern art anywhere in the world.
Think of it - you can kick off your Friday night by viewing works by the greats, like van Gogh, Warhol, Pollock, Malevich. You’ll certainly have something to talk about at the bar later.
Saturday (Pay what you will, 5 - 7:45 PM)
Guggenheim Museum (1071 5th Ave, Manhattan)
In a city of iconic architecture focused on height and spectacle, the Guggenheim has managed to solidify itself as genuinely unique.
It’s considered one of the most important pieces of American architecture ever, and also happens to house plenty of similarly important modern and contemporary art.
That’s a package deal if we’ve ever heard of one - and at a discount on Saturday evenings.
Alrighty, folks, we hope this helps you out if you want a day or night out at one of these fine museums for low prices, or for free! Come on, who doesn't like cheap or free stuff?