New York City has a wealth of museums that cover a range of art, history, culture, and other exhibits. The exhibits in these museums showcase the diversity of the city, the nation, and the world. While many of the museums charge regular admission ranging from $2 to $20, these prices may be prohibitive for your budget as you deal with the current recession. However, you can still visit many of the city’s most famous museums. All of the museums in this article have free admission although the free admission may only apply to certain hours on certain days. This guide identifies New York’s great museums that have an admission price that will fit anyone’s budget in a recession. Free!
The Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is one of New York City’s and the nation’s most famous museums. Containing some of the greatest modern works of art, MoMA should definitely be a key stop on your visit to museums in New York. The museum’s website at www.moma.org, states that the museum has over 150,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, architectural models and drawings, and design objects. Admission is normally $20, so you can take advantage of the Target Free Friday Nights, sponsored by Target, every Friday evening, 4:00-8:00 p.m. The website notes that tickets for Target Free Friday Nights are not available in advance. The Museum of Modern Art is located at 11 West 53 Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues in the heart of Manhattan. The 5th Avenue-53rd Street station is a block away.
Studio Museum of Harlem
The Studio Museum of Harlem offers free admission on Sundays as part of its Target Free Sundays. Sponsored by Target Stores, Target Free Sundays has free admission to the museum from 12 pm to 6 pm each Sunday. According to the museum’s website at http://www.studiomuseum.org/target-free-sundays, the program is designed to engage the community and offer a cultural experience to everyone. The Studio Museum of Harlem’s mission states that is the nexus for black artists locally, nationally, and internationally and for work inspired by black culture. The museum is located at 144 West 125th Street. Parking is available at the municipal garage at 126th Street between Lenox Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. The museum is located near the 125th Street subway station.
The Brooklyn Museum offers a similar program also sponsored by Target Stores. The Brooklyn Museum website at http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/visit/first_saturdays.php describes the Target First Saturday program that has art and entertainment from 5pm to 11pm on the first Saturday of each month. The Brooklyn Museum permanent exhibitions include contemporary art, Egyptian galleries, Asian galleries, African galleries, and decorative arts. Check the website for other ongoing exhibitions at the museum. The website also mentions that for some First Saturday events, tickets (still free) may be required due to limited capacities. The Brooklyn Museum is located near the Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum station at 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York.
South Street Seaport Museum
The South Street Seaport Museum offers free admission on the third Friday of each month from 6 pm to 8:45 pm according to the museum’s website at http://www.southstreetseaportmuseum.org. The South Street Seaport Museum focuses on the history of New York City as a world port where goods, labor, and cultures are exchanged through work, commerce, and the interaction of diverse communities according to the website. The museum was designated as America’s National Maritime Museum in 1998. Its permanent collection includes maritime paintings, scrimshaw, ship models, ocean liner memorabilia, and other maritime related objects. The museum is located at 12 Fulton Street in the South Street Seaport area. It is accessible by subway via the Fulton Street and the Broadway/Nassau Street stations.
Hispanic Society of America Museum
The Hispanic Society of America Museum displays art and artifacts from Spain, Portugal, and Latin America according to the museum’s website at http://www.hispanicsociety.org. Admission to the museum and reference library is free all the time. The collections include paintings, watercolors, sculptures, decorative arts, and photographs. The museum’s hours are from 10 am to 4:30 pm Tuesday thru Saturday and from 1 pm to 4pm on Sunday. The museum is closed on Mondays. The Hispanic Society of America is located on Audubon Terrace, Broadway between 155th and 156th Streets in New York City. It can be reached by subway via the 157th Street Station.
The Jewish Museum is devoted exclusively to 4,000 years of art and Jewish culture as stated in the museum’s director message on its website at http://www.jewishmuseum.org/. The museum was founded in 1904 and its collections have grown to comprise items ranging from archaeological artifacts to works by today’s contemporary artists. A history of the Jewish people told through works of art including a comprehensive body of radio and television programs is found in its permanent collection, “Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey.” Admission is free on Saturdays from 11:00 am – 5:45 pm. The Jewish Museum is located at 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street just several blocks north of the Guggenheim and Cooper-Hewitt Museums.
New Museum for Contemporary Art
The New Museum for Contemporary Art according to its website at http://www.newmuseum.org is a home for contemporary art and an incubator for new ideas. It focuses on presenting contemporary art from around the world. Located in its new location in a seven-story structure at 235 Bowery Street, the New Museum offers the CIT Free Thursday Evenings where admission is free from 7 PM to 9 PM. It can be accessed by subway via the Grand Street Station and Canal Street Station.
National Museum of the American Indian
The National Museum of the American Indian offers free admission all the time according to its website at http://www.nmai.si.edu. The museum is the sixteenth museum of the Smithsonian Institution. It is the first national museum dedicated to the preservation, study, and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of Native Americans as stated on the website. There are facilities in Washington, DC, Suitland, Maryland, and New York City. The New York City location is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; Thursdays until 8 p.m. The National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center, is located at One Bowling Green adjacent to the northeast corner of Battery Park, New York City. You can reach it by subway from the Bowling Green, Whitehall St/South Ferry, and South Ferry stations.
Bronx Museum of the Arts
The Bronx Museum of the Arts, according to its website at http://www.bronxmuseum.org focuses on 20th-century and contemporary art, while serving the culturally diverse populations of the Bronx and the greater New York metropolitan area. The museum is located on the Grand Concourse in a distinctive contemporary landmark designed by the internationally-renowned firm Arquitectonica. The Bronx Museum of Art offers free admission on Fridays. Its permanent collection contains works by artists of African, Asian, and Latin American ancestry. It also has works by artists with a Bronx-influenced artistic development. Located at 1040 Grand Concourse at 165th Street, the museum can be accessed by subway via the 167 Street/Grand Concourse Station or the 161 Street/Yankee Stadium Station.
American FolkArt Museum
The American Folk Art Museum located at 45 West 53rd Street in Manhattan is open Tuesday to Sunday 10:30 am to 5:30 pm and on Friday from 10:30 am to 7:30 pm. It offers free admission on Fridays from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. The museum’s website at http://www.folkartmuseum.org/ states that the museum’s permanent collection of more than five thousand artworks covers three centuries of visual expression and diverse heritages that focuses on a shared national experience and individual and community creativity. You can reach the museum by train at the 47th-50th Streets-Rockefeller Center Station and the 5th Avenue/53rd Street Station.
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
While not a museum but a facility that is part of the New York City Public Library System, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is generally recognized as the world’s leading research library devoted exclusively to documenting the history and cultural development of peoples of African descent worldwide as stated on its website at http://www.nypl.org/research/sc/sc.html. The Schomburg Center located at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem has several divisions: General Research and Reference Division, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, Art and Artifacts Division, Photographs and Prints Division, and Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division. These divisions feature documents, artifacts, recordings, photographs, artwork, and other items that highlight the African and black experience. While the admission to these areas is free, you must make an appointment or register to access several of the collections. You should contact the Schomburg Center at: (212) 491-2200 or visit the website at http://www.nypl.org/research/sc/sc.html to get specific information. The hours for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture vary according to the division you wish to visit but the center is generally open from 12 noon to 5 pm Monday through Saturday. The center is closed on Sundays. Consult the website for exact times. You can reach the Schomburg Center by subway via the 135th Street Station.
Several other museums in New York City offer certain days or times where patrons can make a donation or pay what they wish. These include the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.