Spending $25 per person to visit an art museum (which is the suggested admission charge at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art) can derail any travel budget. However, if you’re an art enthusiast and/or you’d like to give your children an opportunity to learn about art while having fun, there are plenty of leading art museums around the country that don't charge a dime. You might even want to plan your next vacation around one of these.
Admission to the permanent collections at the following museums is free every day:
Located in Cleveland's University Circle cultural neighborhood, the Cleveland Museum of Art features more than 43,000 works of art. Highlights of the newly remodeled museum include the Asian art collection (one of the world's most comprehensive) and the Impressionist gallery. Kids (and adults, too) love the armor court, which is filled with suits of armor for men and horses as well as Medieval tapestries and weaponry.
Modeled after the Cleveland museum, the Nelson-Atkins also boasts an impressive collection of Asian art. In addition, make sure to visit the Kansas City Sculpture Park, located on the museum's lawn. You'll notice the giant Shuttlecocks by Claes Oldenburg when you enter the museum.
The way to visit this museum on a budget is to arrive via bus. (Although admission to the museum is free, parking is $15.) Still this treasure trove of western Art, which sits atop a hill in LA's tony Brentwood neighborhood, is worth the effort. Among other pieces, you'll see van Gogh's "Irises" there. To get to the Getty Museum, take the LA Metro Rapid Line 761. For more bus information, call 1-800-GO-Metro.
Seattle's Frye Art Museum, located in the city's First Hill neighborhood east of downtown, focuses on 19th and 20th century German art (the original Frye collection) as well as complementing 19th century American art.
Located just north of downtown Baltimore, the Walters Museum features a huge (more than 30,000 objects) collection of everything from Egyptian sarcophagi to Chinese ceramics to paintings by Old Masters to Art Deco jewelry. The museum also houses an impressive gallery of French Impressionist paintings.