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How to Find Free or Cheap Museum Admission

With a little advance planning, creativity and knowledge it’s possible to get free or discounted admission to many museums. Here’s how to do it:

How To Find Free Or Cheap Museum Admission

Free Admission with Your Library Card

Discover & Go is a program you have access to with a library card and it offers free and low-cost passes for museums, science centers, zoos, theatres, and other cultural destinations. Here is a list of Public Library Discover & Go Programs and there are many others throughout California:

Local Museum Free Days

Many local museums offer free or discounted days often once a month or once a week. Check the museum’s website for more information.

Smithsonian Annual Free Museum Day

Museum Day is an annual day in September where participating museums and cultural institutions across the country provide free entry to anyone presenting a Museum Day ticket. Register now if you’re new to Museum Day or login if you’re a returning museum.

SoCal Museums Annual Free-for-All Day

Every January SoCal Museums hosts a free museum day with about 40 participating museums. Check with SoCal Museums for the next date and details.

Museum Memberships

Museum memberships often include free access to the museum in addition to reciprocal free or discounted admission to partner museums.

Reciprocal Membership Programs

Museum reciprocal programs such as NARM and ROAM have benefits that include free and discounted admission to other participating museums.

  • ASTC – Science and technology centers and museums
  • AZA – Zoos and aquariums
  • NARM, ROAM – Art and specialty museums
  • ACM – Children’s museums

Go City Tourist Pass

The Go City Tourist Pass saves you up to 55% on combined admission at select museums. To fully realize the value of the pass you must visit multiple museums and attractions over multiple days.

Museums for All Program

Through Museums for All, those receiving food assistance (SNAP benefits), also known as CalFresh, can gain free or reduced admission to more than 900 museums throughout the United States simply by presenting their EBT card. Search to find a participating museum near you which includes The Sherman Library, La Habra Children’s Museum and Pretend City.

Bank of America Museums on Us

During the first full weekend of every month, Bank of America offers cardholders free general admission to more than 225 cultural institutions in dozens of cities across the US.

Credit Unions, Banks, Corporations

Many local and national companies sponsor free days in addition to Bank of America. Check with the museum for these free days. Other companies have included Wells Fargo and Target.

Use Military, Senior or Other Discounts

Select groups are often offered free or discounted admission. Check with the museum for specific discounts that are often available to Seniors, Students, Children, Teachers, Military, Law Enforcement & First Responder, Family Membership, Museum Members, Corporate Membership Sponsorship, Groups, School Groups, Recipients of federal disability assistance (SSDI, SSI, VA benefits, etc.) and local residents.

Free Museum Admission for the Military

Blue Star Museums is a partnership between Department of Defense and museums across America, offering free admission to active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve.

The Blue Star Museums program begins on Armed Forces Day and ends on Labor Day each year.

Find a list of participating museums.


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Joe Wallace has been covering real estate, mortgage and financial topics since 1995. His work has appeared on ABC, The Pentagon Channel, Veteran.com plus a variety of print and online publications. He is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News.