6 free ways to get into the best museums

I am ... car parts. At the Guggenheim.

Between the Cindy Sherman retrospective and the Diego Rivera murals at the MOMA, John Chamberlain’s car parts at the Guggenheim, the Whitney Biennial and the incomparable Stein Family’s treasures at the Met, there is a veritable cacophony of culture on show at New York’s best museums this spring. But we’re Brokelyn, so we’re going to show you how to do it all on the cheap/free. We have covered NYC’s free or pay what you wish museum viewing times, but these are usually very busy, especially during popular exhibits. There are other ways you may not know about to get a good deal on some soul-expanding art experiences, so read on.

Most museums have sponsor companies (usually banks or other large corporations), whose workers get themselves and (generally) one or two guests in for free with their work ID or business card. Sometimes the museums require a corporate courtesy card, so double check before you go. Here is a list of MOMAs corporate sponsors, here is the Guggenheim’s and hereis list for the Whitney Museum.

Museums in NYC allow workers from other museums to visit for free with a valid ID card, most of the time allowing a guest or two as well. They also sometimes get free or cheap tickets to special events and parties, many of which have top notch free booze and food, so get your schmooze on.

Active military personnel and their entire family get in free to the MOMA all year round, and at most other NYC museums between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year.

This is a pass that admits up to five family members to more than 90 cultural institutions in NYC. All of the main museums offer free entrance to card holders and their families. This card is offered free to families with at least one child enrolled in a participating early education program or elementary school.

Although its primarily for art professionals, the American Association of Museums also allows membership by the general public at the (relatively low) cost: $50 for students and retirees, and $90 for everyone else. As far as I know, AAM card holders gain free admission to all accredited museums in the USA.

Of course, if you want to battle the crowds at the designated free museum times, check our previous article for details.


  1. Corinne Hoener

    Here’s a tip for MoMA! Every so often the Brooklyn Central Library has lectures on art (it’s a  MoMa lecture series or something) and at the end, the speaker hands out free MoMa family passes, good for up to five people. That’s worth a $100, you guys! If you ask nicely, they’ll even give you too. ;)  Check out BPL’s calendar of events.

  2. Brooklyn cheapskate

    Also, the Met is always “pay as you like” — I never pay more than $5. The Brooklyn Museum, too. Only suckers pay the “suggested donation” rate!

  3. Any CUNY, SUNY, SVA, Pratt, New School, Juilliard, and NYU Tisch student can get into the MoMA for free with their student ID too. If it has no date, it’s fine. If it has an old date, it *might* work. If it is supposed to have a date sticker and doesn’t, don’t even try. People working there look at ID’s all day and know what they should look like.

    See if anyone you know has a membership there, too. Members can bring guests for $5, or if you borrow their card and match the gender of the name, you can use it (on the DL). Expired membership cards won’t work since they scan them.

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