How to Get Free Art in New York City
Visiting Museums can be expensive, especially in a city like New York. But it doesn’t have to be. Armed with the right information, you can get a whole lot of free art in New York City during your travels there. Nearly every art museum offers a day, or a few hours on one day a week when they allow visitors to enter either for free or by paying their own price. Read on to find out where and when to get free art New York City.
The Frick Collection
The Frick Collection is housed in the former home of Henry Clay Frick and features an outstanding collection of artwork spanning from the 15th to 19th centuries. The eight galleries showcase the works he collected with his industrial fortune in this gorgeous mansion along 5th Avenue, overlooking Central Park. Highlights include the Living Room with the Titians, El Greco, and Han’s Holbein the Younger. Be sure to pick up the free hand set to hear the audio commentary for selected works. Regular price is $20, but visiting on Sunday from 11am to 1pm will get you in at the price of your choice.
Free Entry: On Sundays, pay what you wish from 11am – 1 pm More information: The Frick Collection Location: 1 East 70th Street (between Fifth and Madison Avenues)
The Whitney Museum of American Art
Situated in an impressive new building designed by Renzo Piano between the High Line and the Hudson River, the Whitney now has a vastly increased exhibition space. The museum describes itself as the ‘preeminent institution devoted to the art of the United States, presenting the full range of twentieth-century and contemporary American art, with a special focus on works by living artists.’ The Whitney has the finest holding of twentieth-century American art in the world and featured the first museum retrospectives of Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, and Cindy Sherman. Regular entrance is $22, but come on Friday evening between 7-9:30pm and you can pay what you wish.
Free Entry: Pay what you wish Fridays, 7–9:30 pm More information: The Whitney Museum of American Art Location: 99 Gansevoort Street New York, NY 10014
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)
The Met is one of the world’s top museums. Period. That doesn’t mean it’s the best in New York City for you to visit, but rather that its collection is massive and spans much of ancient and modern human history. It provides the visitor with an excellent introduction to various time periods and schools of art from cultures around the world. From medieval body armor, to modernist photography, to Surrealism, to Islamic Art, to musical instruments, to Impressionism, to American decorative Art, there is a little bit (and sometimes a lot) for everyone. There is nothing that directly tells you that The Met has pay-as-you-wish pricing, but its fees are listed as recommended. When you reach the ticket booth, you have to tell them the price you will pay and they’ll print you up a ticket whether you tell them you want a free ticket, a two dollar ticket, or want to pay the recommended $25.
Free Entry: Pay what you wish anytime More information: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Location: 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street)
House in an impressive 1959 Frank Lloyd Wright–designed building, the Guggenheim Museum is among the 20th century’s most important architectural landmarks. It gets even better inside. The museum’s expansive rotunda houses special exhibitions, while the smaller galleries to the side are devoted to the Guggenheim’s renowned permanent collection. The impressive works were collected by Solomon Guggenheim and his niece, Peggy, and include Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern, and contemporary art. Saturday from 5:45–7:45pm is when you’ll pay what you wish. Go early because the line will wrap around the building outside.
Free Entry: Pay what you wish: Saturday Pay What You Wish: 5:45–7:45pm More information: The Guggenheim Museum Location: 1071 Fifth Avenue
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
To see one of the the world’s greatest collections of modern art for free, you’ll have to head to MoMA’s midtown Manhattan location on Friday evening between 4-8pm. To avoid an excessivesly long line, come at around 6pm. But understand that to see this collection, from Warhol to Piccaso in detail, you’ll want more than two hours. MoMA is considered the most influential museum of modern art in the world. The collection includes works of architecture and design, drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, prints, illustrated books and artist’s books, film and electronic media. Some of it is pretty out there, so come with an open mind.
Free Entry: Pay what you wish Friday 4-8pm More information: MoMA Location: 11 West 53 Street
Where to stay in New York City
The are plenty of hotels in New York City nearby all this great art. Of course, the price isn’t pay what you wish, but you can score some pretty good deals online if you pick the right weekend.
*Remember that it costs millions of dollars per year to run world-class art museum like the ones listed above. If you have the financial means to contribute at least part of the price of a ticket, please do.