Remember museums? Those places you went to on field trips in elementary school? They still exist! Neat, huh?

The less neat part about them is how expensive they can be to get into. $20 for general admission to the MFA? $21.95 to see some adorable penguins at the Aquarium? Are you kiddin me?  And that’s just for one adult – what about the families who want to bring their kids ($18 for kids 6-18 at the MFA and $13.95 for kids 3-11 at the Aquarium)? That’s one expensive day out.

But there are some ways to get in there for free or at least at a discount.

Library Passes

The Boston Public Library offers a number of museum passes for people with a library card. Check out the full list of available passes here.

Some highlights:

  • Museum of Fine Arts (entitles up to 2 people to $5.00 MFA general admission each and also entitles each visitor to upgrade to a special exhibition ticket for an additional $8.00 per person, for the same day only, subject to availability) SAVINGS: $15 per person
  • Museum of Science (will admit up to 4 people) SAVINGS: $21 per person
  • New England Aquarium (Sept.-June, will admit up to 4 people) SAVINGS: $21.95 per person

The library has a limited number of passes per day for each museum, so its suggested that you reserve ahead of time (especially if you’re looking to go on a weekend).

Community Days/Special Events

Many of the museums in Boston will have designated “Community Days” or special events when you can get in for free.  Here’s a couple that I’ve come across.

Institute of Contemporary Art

Regular Admission:
$15 general admission, $13 seniors, $10 students
FREE members
FREE youth 17 and under


  • FREE for all from 5 to 9 pm every Thursday for Target Free Thursday Nights
  • FREE for families (up to 2 adults accompanied by children 12 and under) on the last Saturday of each month with the exception of December.
  • FREE admission on Friday, August 20, 2010 **

Museum of Fine Art

Regular Admission:
$20 Adults, $18 Seniors and Students 18 and older, $7.50* Youths 7-17 weekdays before 3 PM
FREE youths 6 and under
FREE members

*Youths 7-17 admitted free on weekdays after 3PM, weekends, and public school holidays


  • $2 off if you bring your Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum ticket stub within two days of visiting
  • Voluntary Contribution – Wednesdays after 4PM.  “Suggested Donation” is $20 though you technically don’t have to pay anything.
  • FREE Community Days throughout the year.  See a calendar of all Community Days here. There’s one coming up on July 30, 2010**

Museum of Science

Regular Admission: (Exhibit Halls only)
$21 Adults, $19 Seniors (60+), $18 Child (3-11)
FREE members


  • FREE admission on Friday, August 20, 2010**
  • FREE with college I.D. on College Night (date TBD)

Children’s Museum

Regular Admission:
$12 Adults, seniors and children 1-11
FREE children under 1
FREE members


  • $6 from 4-6 PM Saturday through Thursday
  • $1 from 5-9 PM Fridays

New England Aquarium

Regular Admission: (this is for general admission to the Aquarium, not including IMAX)
$21.95 Adult, $13.95 Children 3-11, $19.95 Seniors (60+), $18.95 College students with ID
FREE children under 3
FREE members


  • FREE with college I.D. at College Night 2010 – October 6

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Regular Admission:
$12 Adults, $10 Seniors, $5 College students with ID
FREE children under 18
FREE members
FREE Simmons College students (which I know from experience!)

(Ms. Gardner must’ve loved a deal)


  • FREE on your birthday
  • FREE if your name is Isabella (how cute is that)
  • $2 off if you bring your MFA ticket stub within two days of visiting
  • $2 off if you’re wearing Red Sox paraphernalia (she was an avid fan)
  • FREE on Neighborhood Nights – July 22 and August 5, 5:00 – 8:00 PM. Click here for more information.

**These FREE admissions are courtesy of the Highland Street Foundation.  They are sponsoring free admission Fridays at a number of attractions and museums in the area throughout the whole summer. Click here for more information. I’m going to try to get to a number of these.  I’ll give you a heads up and a post-visit review!

The schedule for the rest of the Free Fun Fridays:

Friday, July 23
JFK Presidential Library & Museum
Columbia Point – Boston, MA

Friday, July 30
Museum of Fine Arts
465 Huntington Ave. – Boston, MA

Friday, August 6
Peabody Essex Museum
161 Essex St. – Salem, MA

Friday, August 13
Old Sturbridge Village

1 Old Sturbridge Village Rd. – Sturbridge, MA

Friday, August 20
Institute of Contemporary Art
100 Northern Ave. – Boston, MA

Friday, August 27
Museum of Science
1 Science Park – Boston, MA

Grand Finale Weekend
Friday, September 3New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 Newbury St. – Boston, MA

Sports Museum
TD Garden, 100 Legends Way – Boston, MA

222 Harrington Way. – Worcester, MA

Cape Cod Museum of Art
60 Hope Lane – Dennis, MA

New Bedford Whaling Museum
18 Johnny Cake Hill – New Bedford, MA

Concord Museum
53 Cambridge Turnpike – Concord, MA

Stone Zoo
149 Pond St. – Stoneham, MA

Buttonwood Park Zoo
425 Hawthorn St. – New Bedford, MA

Saturday, September 4Edward Gorey House
8 Strawberry Lane – Yarmouth Port, MA

Worcester Art Museum
55 Salisbury St. – Worcester, MA

USS Constitution Museum
22 Charlestown Navy Yard – Charlestown, MA

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
1000 West Columbus Ave. – Springfield, MA

American Textile History Museum
491 Dutton St. – Lowell, MA

Discovery Museums
177 Main St. – Acton, MA

Cape Cod Children’s Museum
577 Great Neck Road South – Mashpee, MA

Berkshire Museum
39 South St. – Pittsfield, MA

Phew, this is getting quite long enough.  If you have any other museum tips, please let me know!!