10 New York Museums You Can Visit for Free

You don't have to spend too much!

(SPOT.ph) New York is known as the “City That Never Sleeps” because there’s just a lot to see from sunrise and well beyond sundown. Best thing about it is that there are a number of things you can do for free—from hanging out at the public parks to watching street performers at the subway stations. Museums can be free too, if you know where to go. Read on for must-sees, lesser knowns, and experiences that’ll change your typical day indoors in New York.

PHOTO BY Anika Ventura

Museum of Modern Art

11 West 53 Street, New York City
Free admission every Friday (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.)

A good three hours must be set aside to appreciate the works at the Museum of Modern Art’s six-floor gallery. Not-to-miss pieces include Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night,” Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory,” Monet’s “Water Lilies,” Henri Matisse’s “Dance (1);” and works by Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Frida Kahlo, and Roy Lichtenstein. Be warned: Their well-regarded Design Store will tempt you to break your budget.

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American Folk Art Museum

2 Lincoln Square, New York City
Free admission from Tuesday to Thursday (11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.); and every Friday (12 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.), Saturday (11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.), and Sunday (12 p.m. to 6 p.m.)

If you don’t like big crowds, the American Folk Art Museum is worthy of an impromptu stopover. It’s a contrast to large museums like the Museum of Modern Art; focusing on works by self-taught artists, unsung talents, and its collection of American quilts. Across the museum, you can walk around the elegant, open spaces of the Lincoln Arts Center. You might just find yourself crossing the street beside a ballerina since the famed Juilliard School is steps away.


The Frick Collection

1 East 70th Street, New York City
Free admission every first Friday of the month except September and January (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.)

Because the legendary Metropolitan Museum of Art doesn’t offer free entrance days, The Frick will have to do. Get your fix of classical art at this mansion-turned-museum in the Upper East Side, which once belonged to the infamous industrial magnate Henry Frick. Although his reputation for ill-gotten wealth remains, the works of art he left behind is appreciated. Go to see Old Master paintings, European sculptures, and the French-style mansion itself. Highlights include Giovanni Bellini’s “St. Francis in the Desert,” Johannes Vermeer’s “Officer and Laughing Girl,” and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ “Comtesse d’Haussonville.”

PHOTO BY Anika Ventura

New York Public Library (Stephen A. Schwarzman Building)

476 Fifth Avenue, New York City
Free admission every Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.); every Tuesday and Wednesday (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.); and every Sunday (1 p.m. to 5 p.m.)


Parked right in front of Fifth Avenue, a majestic staircase leads to the flagship branch of one of the world’s best libraries. Everything spells "grand entrance" in this place where the building itself is the attraction. Among many other on-screen cameos, it’s here where Big stood Carrie up in the first Sex and the City film. Free, year-round exhibits take place on the first and third floors while their Children’s Center features the real stuffed animals that inspired the fictional character Winnie the Pooh.

The Museum at FIT

Fashion Institute of Technology, Seventh Avenue at 27 Street, New York City
Free admission from Tuesday to Friday (12 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and every Saturday (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology goes with the tagline “the most fashionable museum in New York City,” obviously. Past exhibits have put the spotlight on corsets, gothic glamour, to the queer history of fashion; while their permanent collection includes 50,000 garments from designers like Chanel, Balenciaga, and Dior.


BRIC House Brooklyn

647 Fulton Street, New York City
Free admission from Monday to Friday (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and from Saturday to Sunday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

Feel the pulse of the city’s most happening borough at the headquarters of BRIC, a non-profit arts organization based in Brooklyn and considered as a frontliner in promoting local culture. The BRIC House is a massive arts and media complex where you can chance upon paintings and installations, live performances, and film viewings rooted on relevant themes like diversity, migration, and urban life.


Statue of Liberty

Board from the White Hall Terminal at 4 South Street, Manhattan
Free ferry tickets 24 hours a day

The Statue of Liberty is a colossal Neo-classical copper sculpture designed by Frenchman Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi in collaboration with Gustave Eiffel, the same man behind the Eiffel Tower. Why not experience seeing this work of art from the water? You can hop on a free ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island and back, passing by Lady Liberty as your cross the New York harbor.

PHOTO BY Anika Ventura

Noguchi Museum

9-01 33rd Road (at Vernon Boulevard), Long Island City
Free admission every first Friday of the month from May to September (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.)

Take a break from seeing the work of multiple artists and zoom in on one: Isamu Noguchi. The Japanese-American artist is most known for his sculptures and furniture design; some of which are scattered around New York. His former studio and now museum is located in Long Island City, Queens—a chance to escape hectic Manhattan. Look for Noguchi’s signature coffee table, Akari Light sculptures, and enjoy downtime in their Zen garden.

PHOTO BY Anika Ventura

9/11 Memorial and Museum

180 Greenwich Street, New York
Free admission every Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Pause and pay tribute to the September 11 attacks in exhibits that recount events before, during, and after the infamous 9/11 incident—a series of terrorist attacks by the al-Qaeda at the United States’ World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001. Expect a touching recollection through physical remnants like the building’s last column and survivors’ stairs, audio remembrances by family members, and portraits of victims and heroes. Beside the museum, two sunken pools offer a beautiful but haunting memorial in the former site of the Twin Towers.


Society of Illustrators

128 East 63rd Street, New York City
Free admission every Tuesday (5 p.m. to 8 p.m.)

Feel like you’re stepping into a secret society through this illustration-focused museum set in an Upper East Side brownstone. The museum holds 2,500 illustrations in its permanent collection, but often holds changing exhibitions so your visit feels intimate and unrushed. It has a dedicated space for comic and cartoon art, including works from Marvel and pages from The New Yorker. 

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