Museums can get pricey for big families, but they don’t have to be budget breakers! Here’s a list of free museum admission days (and steeply discounted days) for Delaware and Philadelphia museums.
I wish I could afford family memberships to ALL my favorite museums. Not just so I could see each new exhibit, but so that I could visit whenever the mood strikes me, not pressed to see it all in one go, but perusing at my leisure, revisiting old favorites.
I think it’s critical to expose kids to carefully curated exhibitions of art and history; to compare and contrast, to see progression and reinvention and reliance on the past, to view from different perspectives, to understand why pieces are important enough to be included. But mostly, to see all kinds of visions of beauty and stand in awe of the creativity, passion, effort, and skill that brought them into being.
With a family of five, though, museum admissions add up FAST. But good news: it is possible to visit many of our local museums on a super tight budget, to replicate the leisurely savoring of exhibits that you’d get with a membership! It just requires a little planning and a bit of patience.
All you have to do is take note of when the free or discounted admission days happen, and then rather than fight the crowds trying to see it everything all in one day, plan to really take in one section or two, knowing you can return the next month to see more. Low cost, low stress.
Get free museum admission (or nearly free) at Delaware and Philadelphia museums on these days:
First weekend of the month:
Museums on Us
Bank of America cardholders get free museum admission to more than 150 museums nationwide the first full weekend (Sat and Sun) of the month with the Museums on Us program. The list of museums varies slightly from year to year, so confirm on their site before you go.
Free Admission to the Delaware Art Museum
Free museum admission to the Delaware Art Museum all day EVERY Sunday. Don’t forget to check out the labyrinth and sculpture garden.
Free Admission to the Rockwood Museum
Admission to the Rockwood Museum is free on the first Sunday of the month.
Pay what you wish at the Philly Art Museum
Access the museum at any price (even a penny!) from 10am to 5pm on the first Sunday of the month.
Free Admission Brandywine River Museum
Free museum admission to the Brandywine River Museum of Art (on Route 1, close to where it intersects with 202) on the first Sunday of the month.
First Free Sundays at the Barnes Foundation
The Barnes offers free admission and programs on the first Sunday of every month. Limited to tickets for two adults and two children; tickets are limited and can’t be reserved in advance.
Tuesdays in August
$2 Tuesdays at the Delaware Museum of Natural History
Admission to the Delaware Museum of Natural History is just two bucks during Two Dollar Tuesdays. Check out their summer exhibit, Extreme Deep: Mission to the Abyss, along with all their familiar standbys (we love the shell and egg exhibits). I hear they’ve got Pokéstops, too.
Please Touch Museum First Wednesday
Admission is only $2 per person from 4 to 7pm the first Wednesday of the month.
Free Admission to the Franklin Institute
Target Community Nights at the Franklin Institute are from 5 to 8pm on the third Wednesday of the month unless otherwise specified. Free museum admission, no need to pre-register AND you can park in the garage at a discounted rate of $6 for the evening. (Parking is limited and space is not guaranteed.)
Pay What You Wish at the Philadelphia Art Museum
Access at any price every Wednesday from 5pm to 8:45pm.
Pay What You Wish at the National Museum of Jewish American History
Through Labor Day, the National Museum of Jewish American History stays open until 8:00pm on Wednesday evenings. Admission after 5:00 is pay-what-you-wish.
Free museum admission to the Delaware Art Museum Thursdays from 4 to 8pm.
$5 After 5pm at Delaware Children’s Museum
The Delaware Children’s Museum has special extended hours until 8pm, unique programming, and $5 admission after 5pm.
The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philly is $9.95 after 3pm on weekdays when you buy your tickets online.
These museums and attractions are always free!
- The Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts in Wilmington
- The University of Delaware’s Museums (art/literary exhibits, an African American art collection, and the Mineralogical Museum). They’re closed for the summer though.
- Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes
- John Dickinson Plantation, Johnson Victrola Museum and the Old State House in Dover
- Independence Hall, Carpenter’s Hall and the Liberty Bell
- the U.S. Mint
- the Rodin Museum (pay what you wish daily; garden admission is always free)
Did you know? The Wilmington Public Library on Tenth Street and the North Wilmington Branch on Market Street carry Delaware Children’s Museum admission passes. These passes are available for check-out by library cardholders on a first-come, first-served basis. (Only one pass is available for check out per day at each location.)
Military families (up to five family members) also receive free admission through the Blue Star Museums program to the following museums through Labor Day:
- Mt. Cuba Center
- New Castle Court House Museum
- New Castle Historical Society
- Read House & Gardens
- Delaware Historical Society
- Delaware Museum of Natural History
- Hagley Museum and Library
- Rockwood Museum & Park
- Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
- Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
- African American Museum in Philadelphia
- American Philosophical Society Museum
- Chemical Heritage Foundation
- Cliveden, Inc.
- Glen Foerd on the Delaware
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania
- La Salle University Art Museum
- Laurel Hill Mansion
- National Constitution Center
- National Liberty Museum
- National Museum of American Jewish History
- Penn Museum
- Philadelphia History Museum
- Philadelphia Museum of Art
- Please Touch Museum
- Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
- The Athenaeum of Philadelphia
- The Barnes Foundation
- The Franklin Institute
- The Institute of Contemporary Art
- The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
- Woodford Mansion
- Woodmere Art Museum