Photo: Socrates Sculpture Park/Facebook

The 10 Best Free Museums in New York City

New York City Insider Guides
by Aryana Azari Jun 26, 2018

New York City is famously known as a melting pot where cultures from around the world meet and mingle. So then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s home to hundreds of museums, memorials, historic sites, and cultural centers. Some museums will cost upwards of $20 and some are free only on specific days and at specific times. It can get a little stressful to navigate, so if you’d rather avoid the headache altogether, head to these ten amazing museums that are free year-round.

1. Bronx Museum of the Arts

The Bronx Museum of the Arts is located right on the Grand Concourse, just a short walk away from Yankee Stadium. It was founded in 1971 and has since been dedicated to making art accessible to all communities. In addition to housing thousands of pieces of artwork across different mediums from artists who are either Bronx-based or of a minority background, the museum also rotates through special exhibitions and holds educational programming to help facilitate learning and provide a space for dialogue.

Open Wednesday-Sunday 11:00 AM-6:00 PM.

2. American Folk Art Museum

Art Exhibit at American Folk Art Museum

Photo: American Folk Art Museum/Facebook

Exhibitions at the American Folk Art Museum are of the eclectic, ever-changing variety. You may head in here with the idea that you’ll see a certain kind of art, but leave having seen something completely unexpected — which is what makes it fun and it fits the folk art style. The venue also hosts performances and talks which are sure to entertain.

Open Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday 11:30 AM-7:00 PM, Friday 12:00 PM-7:30 PM, and Sunday 12:00 PM-6:00 PM.

3. National Museum of the American Indian

Part of the Smithsonian Institute, the National Museum of the American Indian can be found in the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House. Here’s where you’ll be able to learn about the long history of the Americas’ Native people. Collections display various artifacts ranging from Iroquois clothing to Navajo jewelry to Choctaw sports materials.

Open Monday-Sunday 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, but on Thursdays it stays open until 8:00 PM.

4. Queens County Farm Museum

A little bit farther out than most museums, the Queens County Farm Museum on the Little Neck Parkway is definitely worth venturing to. It dates back to 1697, making it New York City’s longest farmed site. It covers around 47 acres with fruit and vegetable patches, gardens, spaces for animals, and other farm buildings. Visitors are able to walk on the grounds, through the fields, and even feed the animals. The farm also holds special events from time to time, like those centered around a specific holiday, seasonal cooking classes, and even American Indian Pow Wows. It’s the perfect place to escape to when you need a respite from the always-on-the-go vibe of the city.

Open Monday-Sunday 10:00 AM-5:00 PM.

5. Bushwick Street Art Collective

Photo: Christian Mueller/Shutterstock

The Bushwick Street Art Collective on Troutman Street isn’t a museum in the traditional sense of the word, because, technically, the collection of street art and graffiti stretches over multiple buildings on several blocks. Make sure to go during daylight hours so you can fully appreciate each incredible piece.

Open 24/7.

6. Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology

Photo: Museum at FIT/Facebook

The Fashion Institute of Technology’s name speaks for itself. The Museum at FIT was founded in 1969 and its mission is to “advance knowledge of fashion through exhibitions, programs, and publications.” Fashionista or not, you won’t be able to help but marvel at how fashion has evolved over time. MFIT holds different exhibitions like The Corset: Fashioning the Body and Gothic: Dark Glamour while also having a permanent collection that boasts over 50,000 garments from the 1700s to now.

Open Tuesday-Friday 12:00 PM-8:00 PM and Saturday 10:00 AM-5:00 PM.

7. Building 92 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

BLDG 92 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Photo: Brooklyn Navy Yard/Facebook

Brooklyn Navy Yard was established in 1801 and was a shipbuilding facility for nearly 200 years. It was especially active during World War II and some of the more famous ships in America’s history, like the USS Monitor and USS Missouri, were built there. Today, it’s an industrial park that aims to be an impetus to New York City’s economic progress by connecting the community to opportunity. Building 92 is a multipurpose center for visitors, exhibitioners, and people looking for employment. Learn about the Yard’s history and the machines that were built there, or have a coffee while you soak in the entrepreneurial spirit.

Open Wednesday-Sunday 12:00 PM-6:00 PM.

8. Socrates Sculpture Park

Photo: Socrates Sculpture Park/Facebook

In 1986, abstract sculptor Mark di Suvero got artists together and turned a landfill into a city park. Today, Socrates Sculpture Park stands as one of New York City’s only locations dedicated specifically for artists to use as an outdoor creation space. Manhattan’s waterfront sfive-acre the backdrop as you stroll along a five acre stretch, seeing visually stimulating sculptures from emerging and famous artists. You may even catch someone in the midst of their creative process. The park divides its exhibitions by season, so every few months there’ll be something new.

Open Monday-Sunday 9:00 AM-8:00 PM.

9. Scandinavia House

Music practice at Scandinavia House

Photo: Scandinavia House/Facebook

Scandinavia House is New York’s hub for all things Nordic. The center is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Scandinavian culture in the United States. The museum displays art from the different corners of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. There’s artwork, music, theatre, and film so no matter your preferred medium, you’ll find something to your liking. Scandinavia House also partners with companies that have roots in the region, like the Lego Group, to put on interactive exhibits.

Open Tuesday-Saturday 12:00 PM-6:00 PM, but on Wednesdays it’s open until 7:00 PM.

10. BRIC House

People painting at an art event in Brooklyn

Photo: BRIC House/Facebook

BRIC House is in the middle of Brooklyn’s art scene. You’ve got the Brooklyn Academy of Music to one side, Mark Morris Dance Center to another, and a ton of theatres to the others. The house itself is a multipurpose media center that curates art in all forms. There’s a performance space, an artist studio for artists of all career levels to use for workshops or display, a gallery for exhibitions, and a public access television center.

Open Monday-Sunday 10:00 AM-6:00 PM, but sometimes later depending on the exhibit or performance.

Discover Matador

Save Bookmark

We use cookies for analytics tracking and advertising from our partners.

For more information read our privacy policy.