Food, Travel, Design and the occassional wordiness

Boston Area Museums (how to get in FREE)  July 3, 2015

Dear visitors, house guests, fellow Massachusetts residents hosting out-of-towners, parents of bored kids and my dear dear Cambridge neighbors, 

This post is for you. Sunny days are cherished and dreamy but often feels few and far between. And on those days that rain and snow and icky weather looms large, a semi-interesting museum, in a easy-to-reach zone  can really save the day. But with average entry fees of $25, it could cost a fortune for a family of 4 or a play date. And we’ve all heard of free dates and discounts but with each museum having its own list and clauses and requirements, it’s not easy to research and plan. That’s why I have  researched and compiled a list of ways to get into each of the most visited museums in the Bostob area, for free or deeply discounted rates. So next time you only have to go to this one page*

1. Museum of Fine Arts

  • One free repeat visit within 10 days (applies to full-price Adult, Senior, and Student tickets only).
  • Also free with membership.
  • For youths ages 7–17, admission is free during weekdays after 3 pm, weekends, and Boston public school holidays.
  • Wednesday nights after 4 pm, admission is by voluntary contribution.
  • The Museum is free to all visitors on the following Open House days: Monday, January 19, 2015 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day Open House); Saturday, February 21, 2015 (Lunar New Year); and Monday, May 25, 2015 (Memorial Day Open House); Monday, October 12, 2015 (Fall Open House).
  • free admission for all active-duty, National Guard, and Reserve military personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
  • free admission for active-duty personnel and their families year round. The military ID holder, an additional adult, and youth ages 17 and under receive free admission to the Museum.
  • The University Membership Program (for participating universities and colleges) allows eligible students to enter the Museum free of charge when they present their valid student ID at any MFA ticket desk. students (with proper identification) get member-priced tickets to educational and public programs when purchased in person on the day of the event, and a 10% discount on purchases made in Museum Shops. University Membership Program.
  • Members of the International Student Identity Card program receive a $2 discount from admission when presenting their ISIC membership card at any ticket desk.
  • Massachusetts residents who present Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards at a ticket desk may receive up to four $3 tickets good for adult, senior, or student admission. These discounted tickets must be purchased with cash.
  • Members of the Massachusetts Teachers Association receive a $2 discount from admission when presenting their valid MTA membership ID at any ticket desk.
  • First Night button holders receive free admission on December 31, New Year’s Eve. Limit one free admission per button. First Night buttons are no longer available for purchase at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Please note that the Museum will close early at 4:45 p.m. on December 31.

2. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Bring your MFA ticket stub to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museumwithin two days of purchase and save $2 on adult/senior general admission.
3. Institute of Contemporary Art
Free for:

  • ICA members.
  • Youth 17 and under
  • All every Thursday from 5 to 9 pm during ICA Free Thursday Nights
  • Up to two adults accompanied by children 12 and under during Play Dates, offered on the last Saturday of the month, except December.

4. JFK Presidential Library and Museum

Free to:

  • Members of the JFK Presidential Library and Museum
  • Members of any Presidential Library operated by the National Archives
  • Members of the John F. Kennedy Library New Frontier Network
  • Children 12 and under
  • U.S. Armed Forces Active Duty Personnel with ID

5. Boston Children’s Museum

  • Target Friday Nights- Every Friday from 5-9pm, admission is $1 per person. Check in at Admissions after 5pm
  • Last Hour Discount- Visitors entering the Museum during the last hour the Museum is open (Saturday – Thursday) receive half price admission. This discount does not apply on Friday Nights. Must check in at Admissions during the last hour Saturday – Thursday
  • Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Card- Sponsored by Highland Street Foundation Massachusetts EBT cardholders can show their EBT card to pay only $2 per person cash admission. The discount applies for up to four people per card, per visit. The Museum does not process EBT transactions; cash or other payment must be provided for admission. A valid Massachusetts EBT card AND a photo ID needed.
  • Teacher Discount- Free admission for active New England teachers (K-8). This includes MA, NH, CT, RI, VT, and ME. A valid work ID, union card, or paystub AND a photo ID needed.
  • Military Discount – United States Armed Forces Active Duty Personnel or one of their dependents will receive complimentary admission. A valid Active Military ID or Dependent ID needed
  • Library Discount Coupon- Library patrons receive half price admission for up to 4 people with a non-expired library coupon. A date specific, library discount coupon must be presented at Admissions. Library discount coupons are available at most public libraries
  • WGBH discount- WGBH members receive $1 off general admission for up to 4 people. Must present a current WGBH membership card AND a photo ID
  • Red Sox Kid Nation- Children who are members of Red Sox Kid Nation receive $2 off the price of their admission. Red Sox Kid Nation membership card needed
  • Go Boston- Go Boston Card holders receive free admission to the Museum. Cards are issued one per person for a specific period of days or amount of attractions. Cards must be scanned in the appropriate card reader in order to determine if they are valid for that day.
  • Free Fun Friday sponsored by Highland Street Foundation- July 3, 2015 – 10:00am to 5:00pm

6. USS Constitution Museum (Charlestown)

Suggested donations ($5.00-$10.00 for Adults, $3.00-$5.00 for Children, and $20.00-$25.00 for Families)

7. Peabody Archaeological Museum (Cambridge)

Free for:

  • Children under 3
  • members
  • holders of a current Harvard ID (+1 guest); Harvard Museums of Science & Culture members, and Harvard Art Museums members.
  • Massachusetts residents every Sunday morning (year-round) from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and on Wednesdays from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm (September through May). Proof of residency required. This offer is not available to commercial groups.
  • Massachusetts Teachers (K-12)
  • Active duty military with their families in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Humanities Blue Star Museums program.

8. Harvard Natural History Museum (Cambridge)

  • Free with MA residence proof Sunday 9-12
  • Discounted ($6/head) entry with library pass coupon on designated day, for up to 4 people 

9. Museum of Science (Cambridge)

  • Free with membership
  • Discounted entry with library pass coupon on designated day, for up to 4 people 

10. Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge)

Free to:

  • Harvard faculty, students, and staff (plus one guest)
  • Youth under 18
  • Cambridge residents
  • Massachusetts residents, Saturdays from 10am–noon

11. Peabody Essex Museum (Salem)

Free for:

  • Salem, Mass. residents (with ID)
  • People who work in Salem Tuesday through Friday, 10 am–5 pm.
  • Members to all sites and special exhibitions.
  • Bank of America customers visit for FREE on the first full weekend of each month.

*This page is accurate as of today Jul 3, 2015, prices, dates and offers may change without notice or might not be reflected here. You should check with the museum of interest before planning. 


  • How and when to get into Boston museums for free
  • Enjoying Boston museums at a discount 

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