Free museum admission

History, art or culture – for free – during Museum Day Live!

From “Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline”: ‘Minivan to the Polar Forest,’ by Ray Troll. Courtesy Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center

 

Spending time at a museum, garden, science center or a special cultural attraction is a great way to learn about a new subject or a city you’re visiting. But with some admission prices tipping the scales at $20, the costs of being curious can add up. Especially if you’ve got a family in tow.

That’s why the always-free-entry policy at Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. is such a great draw and why, once a year, Smithsonian magazine hosts Museum Day Live!, an event in which more than 1000 museums across the country waive admission for anyone who takes the time to download a free ticket.

2017 Museum Day Live! takes place this Saturday, September 23 and includes large and small museums in all 50 states.

Seattle’s Museum of Flight is on the list, as is the Carolina’s Aviation Museum, the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor  and Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinville, Oregon.

Visitors are permitted to download one ticket – granting access to the ticketholder and a guest – per email address. A full list of participating venues, including many with special events planned for the day, can be found here.

Here are some of the more than 1,300 participating museums to consider visiting

North to Alaska

Courtesy Anchorage Museum

The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center Alaska’s largest museum, is celebrating the opening of a brand new wing, refreshed galleries and several new exhibitions. A variety of media in ‘Art of the North’ offer varied takes on the Northern landscape and wilderness; the renovated ‘Alaska’ exhibition looks at the Land of the Midnight Sun through more than 400 objects; and ‘Cruisin’ the Ephemeral Coastline’ presents a quirky tour of Alaska fossils through the eyes of Alaska resident Ray Troll and paleontologist Kirk Johnson (director of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History), who are described, respectively, as “an artist with a fondness for cheeseburgers, ratfish and trilobites” and a “a walrus-and ammonite-obsessed scientist.”

Savings with Museum Day Live! ticket: $15 per adult

Meteorites and microbes

From World in a Drop exhibition at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Courtesy Scott Chimileski and Roberto Kolter, Harvard Medical School.

 

A ten-year participant in Museum Day Live!, Boston’s Harvard Museum of Natural History has just launched ‘World in a Drop: Photographic Explorations of Microbial Life,’ offering a rare and often beautiful view of tiny ecosystems. Equally intriguing exhibits elsewhere in the museum include a huge Triceratops skull, three huge whale skeletons, a 15-foot giraffe, thousands of rare minerals, meteorites and gemstones and the hard-to-believe-they’re-not-real collection of over 4000 glass flowers and plants made from 1887 through 1936 by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, father and son glass artisans from Germany.

Savings with Museum Day Live! ticket: $12 per adult.

Industrial History 

Photo courtesy of NMIH

 

Housed in a former Bethlehem Steel facility that is more than 100 years old, the National Museum of Industrial History is a shrine to America’s industrial history, displaying industrial artifacts from a variety of industries.

Among the items on display are a restored 115-ton Corliss steam engine that was once used to pump 8 million gallons of water a day, a 13-ton, 20-foot-tall Nasmyth steam hammer, and the Scalamandre “White House” loom that made fabric for every White House presidency from Hoover to Clinton. A temporary exhibition about baseball, “Making America’s Pastime,” shows how balls, bats, gloves and uniforms are made, and how they’ve changed over time.

“The museum opened in August 2016 and many in the community have yet to experience all that we have to offer,” said NMIH spokesman Glenn Koehler, “Museum Day Live! gives us a chance to bring those patrons into the museum and engage them in ways we might have not been able to otherwise.”

Savings with Museum Day Live! ticket: $12 per adult.

Popular culture 

Credit: Suzi Pratt

 

Ten interactive exhibits and galleries at MoPOP, Seattle’s Museum of Popular Culture (formerly the EMP) offer visitors a far-ranging tour of music history, contemporary pop culture, science fiction and fantasy and a variety of offbeat trends.

Beyond galleries devoted to the history and development of the electric guitar, Seattle-native Jimi Hendrix and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, current exhibitions include a photo retrospective about the of the late rock icon, David Bowie, and more than 100 artifacts  and props from the ‘Star Trek’ television series and films franchise.

Savings with Museum Day Live! ticket: $28 per adult

 The Lone Star State in World War I, plus a visit from a national treasure

Drafted men reporting for service. Camp Travis, San Antonio, Texas. Ca. 1917-18. San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. (War Dept.) National Archives

 At the University of Texas at San Antonio, the Institute of Texan Cultures is currently hosting exhibits exploring the history of beer, brewers and breweries in Texas (“Brewing up Texas”); the stories and customs of more than 20 of the earliest cultural groups to settle in Texas (“Texans One and All”); and the role played by citizens from the Lone Star State (198,000 men and 450 women) in the World War I.

Museum Day Live! visitors will get a special treat: from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eva Ybarra, the Queen of the Accordion and a newly minted recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, will perform in the museum and a documentary about Ybarra’s life will be premiered.

Savings with Museum Day Live! ticket: $10 per adult.

Credit: Adam Rodriguez

 Gardens galore

Not all participants in the Museum Day Live! are museums. In Phoenix, Arizona, the 140-acre Desert Botanical Garden will welcome free ticket holders to explore the wildflowers, herbs, cacti, succulents and other plants on the garden’s five looped trails exploring the Sonoran Desert.

“Our Garden believes in celebrating the impact that all public gardens and museums have on their communities, and we’re so proud to have become one of the unofficial flagships for this annual event,” said, Ken Schutz, Executive Director of the Desert Botanical Garden, “In the short term, we may forego revenue on the actual day, but all the benefits that accrue over time more than make up for that.”

Savings with Museum Day Live! ticket: $24.95 per adult.

(My story about Smithsonian magazine’s 2017 Museum Day Live! first appeared on CNBC in a shorter version.)

 

Free museums this weekend

When I’m not in an airport, I’m checking out museums – especially on the first weekend of each month when the Museums on Us program gives Bank of America cardholders free access to more than 150 museums and cultural institutions around the country.

Adler_Ivory_Telescope

Ivory telescope from the Alder Plantarium

If I could zip around the country, I’d use my bank card to gain free access this weekend to the Alder Planetarium in Chicago (general admission: $12), to see the telescope collection and the temporary exhibition that explores the post-Pluto question: What is a Planet?.

Alder image

I’d also head to American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore to see the Big Hope Show – which is closing soon – and to Morristown, New Jersey to see the Toothpick World exhibition and the fortune -tellers, gambling machines and other early coin-operated entertainment machines at the Morris Museum.

1_Intro_assorted machines_courtesy Morris Museum

Free museum admission for military personnel and their families

As you travel around the country this summer, keep in mind that more than 1,5000 museums around the country are offering free admission to active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day, May 28, through Labor Day, September 3, 2012 as part of the Blue Star Museums program.

 

The program began in 2010 and is a collaboration between the National Endowment of the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and the participating museums.

On the list are museums, science centers, history museums, nature centers and more than 70 children’s museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, TX and the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.

New on the list year: the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar in Richmond, Va., the New Mexico Museum of Space History, San Francisco’s Children’s Creativity Museum and the World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colo.

You can click on a map to see what museums and attractions in your travels may be on the list.

 

 

Make it a museum weekend

 I’m a big fan of museums and a big fan of free.

So that makes me a big fan of Bank of America’s  Museums on Us program, which offers Bank of America and Merrill Lynch debit and/or credit cardholders free admission to more than 100 museums, zoos, science centers and other cultural attractions around the country on the first full weekend of each month.

This is February’s first full weekend, so if you’ve got one of these cards – and supposedly one out of every two households does – it’s time to check the list and go see a museum for free.

The list of participating institutions recently expanded from 100 to 150 museums, so there’s a good chance you’ll find a free museum in your city or in the city you’re visiting.

Where can you go? The list includes the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, NC, the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, CA, MUZEO, Los Angeles, and the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, MO.  

And  if you happen to be in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and aren’t into football,  you can use your card to get free admission to the Dallas Museum of Art  and the Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas  and the Museum of Science and History in Fort Worth, which includes the Fort Worth Children’s Museum, a planetarium, dinosaurs, an exhibition on energy that includes a 30-foot tall drilling apparatus and the Cattle Raisers Museum, which tells the story of Texas and Southwestern cattle raisers.

Free admission this weekend at more than 100 museums

On the first weekend of every month more than 100 museums, zoos and attractions around the country offer free admission to anyone with a Bank of America card as part of the Museums on Us program.

Visiting one of the participating venues is a great way to stretch a weekend entertainment budget and a good excuse to get acquainted with the work of a new artist or get reacquainted with a favorite animal at your local zoo.

One place on the list this month is the Wichita Art Museum in Kansas, which is hosting a traveling exhibition from the National Air and Space Museum through the end of September.

In Plane View: Abstractions of Flight features 56 large-format photographs by Carolyn Russo showcasing the elegance and beauty of airplane design.  For example, this photo shows grooves in the exhaust cone of the North American X-15.

In Plane View Exhibit at Wichita Art Museum

Can’t make it to Kansas? When the exhibit leaves the Wichita Art Museum, it will travel to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia and then, in January 2011, to the Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences in Peoria, Illinois.

You might also take advantage of the Museums on Us program to get free admission to the Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan (Saturday only), where the 15 planes in the Heroes of the Sky exhibit includes this 1926 Fokker Trimotor used by Richard Byrd in his attempt to be the first to reach the North Pole by plane.

Ford Fokker at Henry Ford Museum

According to the museum notes:

Because Edsel Ford funded Byrd’s trip to the Arctic, the plane was named for his daughter, Josephine. Tony Fokker, the manufacturer, wanted to be sure no one mistook the plane for a Ford, so he painted the giant “FOKKER” on the wings and fuselage. There’s no heater in this plane, so temperatures inside the cabin could have easily reached -50° F while flying through the Arctic sky.