New York City is home to some of the most iconic museums in the world. But visiting these art sanctuaries can cost an arm and a leg—unless you know when to make your entrance. Below is a guide for getting into some of the city’s best museums for free.
If you’re into skyline views, thought-provoking American art and modern architecture, look no further than Pay-What-You-Wish Fridays from 7-10pm at the Whitney. Relocated to a new state-of-the-art home designed by Renzo Piano, at the foot of the High Line, the Whitney is a work of art on its own. Soaring ceilings and multi-level roof decks give it an open and airy vibe, while the exhibits focus on innovative American artists past and present.
Whitney Museum of American Art. 99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY. (212) 570-3600
Perhaps the city’s most widely recognized museum, the Guggenheim, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1950s, is a true masterpiece. Headlined by its spiraling white rotunda, the museum’s ramps and hallways are filled with works by the likes of Picasso, Van Gogh and Kandinsky. Take advantage of pay-what-you-will Saturdays each week from 5:45-7:45pm.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 1071 5th Ave, New York, NY. (212) 423-3500
Amassing the biggest and (arguably) best collection of modern art in the world, New York’s MoMA will blow you away. Whether it’s Salvador Dalì’s melted watches, Andy Warhol’s golden Marilyn Monroe, Frida Kahlo’s self portrait, or Vincent Van Gogh’s starry night, the iconic works seem endless here. Admission is free on Fridays from 4-8 p.m., but arrive after 6 p.m. if you want to avoid the rush.
Museum of Modern Art. 11 W 53rd St, New York, NY. (212) 708-9400
At the northern tip of Prospect Park in Brooklyn lies one of New York City’s ecological wonders. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is 52 acres of trees, plants, greenhouses and waterways. Incorporating clever architecture and globally sourced plants, the garden is for those who prefer to see their art alive. The exquisitely curated C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum is one of the grounds’ many highlights. Adopting a policy of accessibility, the garden is free from 10am-12pm. every Saturday and all day Tuesday.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden. 990 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY. (718) 623-7200
Not as young as its name suggests (it opened in 1977), the New Museum did recently make the move to its unique Bowery abode in 2007. As you might gather from the building’s futuristic stacked-box design, the museum caters to the contemporary art crowd. Swing by for pay-what-you-will Thursdays from 7-9pm, where the city looks especially grand thanks to the museum’s panoramic rooftop gallery.
New Museum. 235 Bowery, New York, NY. (212) 219-1222