Brynne Conroy | 

These 14 Pay-As-You-Wish Museums in NYC Are a Tourist Dream

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Whether you’re planning a trip to the Big Apple or live there and want to explore your neighborhood for less, we have a cheap idea for you. Consider the pay-as-you-wish museums in NYC for a family-friendly cultural excursion.

Lucky for your budget, there are a ton of museums that offer free or pay-as-you-wish admission. If a museum offers pay as you wish, there’s typically a suggested donation for entry. But you don’t have to pay it. You can pay zero dollars and still get in the door.

All of these museums are nonprofits, so if you visit and feel a little guilty about not making a donation, you can do so at a later date. Plus, donations to 501(c)3s can be deducted on your federal taxes if you’re not taking the standard deduction.

Now, most museums in NYC offer a free day once a week or once a month. These free museum “days” might last the whole day, or they may only apply for a few hours of the day.

That’s not what we’re covering today. Today, we’re going to show you only museums where you can get in for free every day, either because there is no admission or because admission is pay what you wish.

Before we get started, make sure you download The Krazy Coupon Lady app. We’ll keep you on top of tips to save money whether you’re at home or on the road.


1. El Museo del Barrio

Entrance to El Museo Del Barrio

Admission: Pay what you wish. Suggested donation $9.

El Museo del Barrio is dedicated to preserving the art and history of Puerto Ricans and all Latin Americans in the United States. Not only do they have art exhibitions, but they also offer bilingual programming, educational events, and festivals.

The suggested donation is $9, but you don’t necessarily have to pay that much. Admission is pay what you wish.


2. National Museum of the American Indian – New York

A group of children looking at an interactive exhibition

Admission: Free

There are two locations for the National Museum of the American Indian: one in D.C. and one in New York. Both are dedicated to equity and social justice, threading the past into the present. Admission is free whenever you visit.


3. Yeshiva University Museum

Art exhibition at Yeshiva University Museum

Admission: Free

Located inside the Center for Jewish History, the Yeshiva University Museum explores Jewish history and culture across the globe. You’ll find art, but you’ll also find artifacts, a children’s studio, and various installations. Admission to this museum is always free.


4. American Folk Art Museum

Person looking at art inside a museum

Admission: Free

The American Folk Art Museum is an art gallery with a twist: All of the 8,000+ pieces are created by artists with no formal training. Admission is free, but you will want to reserve your ticket in advance of your visit.

Related: Check out these free admission museums nationwide.


5. The Bronx Museum

A couple walking through an exhibition at the Bronx Museum

Admission: Free

The Bronx Museum is a contemporary arts museum that celebrates urban creativity. It does have permanent installations but also has rotating exhibitions and events. Visits are always free of charge.



6. Queens Museum

Inside the queens museum

Admission: Free

Queens Museum is dripping in history. The building is located on the grounds of two World Fairs. And the building itself? It’s the same building that used to be the United Nations HQ.

This museum honors its history by serving the people of Queens today with arts and educational programming. Admission is $FREE.99.


7. The Museum at FIT

Admission: Free

The Museum at FIT is devoted to fashion exhibits. That makes sense when you realize that FIT stands for Fashion Institute of Technology.

The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, and admission is always free.



Nuevayokinos exhibition

Admission: Pay what you wish. Suggested donation $10

Not to be confused with MOMA, which does have free admission on select days of the month, MOMA PS1 is an exhibition hall with a rotating stream of artists on display. Here, admission is always pay what you wish, which can be equivalent to free if you so choose. However the suggested donation is $10.


9. Center for Book Arts

A journal made of fabric and thread created by Candace Hicks

Admission: Pay what you wish. Suggested donation $5.

This super niche museum is dedicated to works of art that use books as the medium. All exhibitions are pay as you wish, with a suggested donation of $5.

TIP: Have an EBT or ACCESS card? You can get into museums across the country for a discounted rate. Sometimes you even get in for free!


10. Museum of the City of New York

Person giving a group tour

Admission: Pay what you wish, only available in person. Suggested donation of $20.

The mission of the Museum of the City of New York is to celebrate, document, and disseminate the history of the Big Apple and its urban life. They have exhibits for food, music, art, community, and everything in between.

If you buy tickets online, you will have to pay the suggested donation of $20. But if you pay in person, you’ll have the option to do the pay-what-you-wish option, which can be as low as zero dollars.



11. Socrates Sculpture Park

Admission: Free

There’s no way to miss this sculpture park; it’s open 365 days per year and is open from 9 a.m. through sundown. Socrates Sculpture Park features the work of new artists and international superstars alike.

And guess what? Admission is always free.


12. Staten Island Museum

Yes And exhibition at the Staten island museum

Admission: Pay what you wish. Suggested donation of $8.

The Staten Island Museum has been open since 1881, covering natural science, art, history, and the environment. There’s a suggested donation of $8, but you can purchase pay-what-you-wish tickets at the door.


13. Queens County Farm Museum

Queens County Farm

Admission: Free

Settlers have been farming the land at the Queens County Farm Museum since 1697. If you want a good dose of agriculture and history, you can get into this museum for free (almost) all the time. There are special ticketed event days where you’ll have to pay, but the default is that admission is free.


14. King Manor

Tour guide leading a group of people through King Manor

Admission: Free

This museum was once the home of founding father Rufus King, who advocated for anti-slavery policies even at the birth of our nation. The museum is closed on Wednesday and Sunday, but the rest of the week you can visit for free.

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