clock menu more-arrow no yes
The New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society
Photo courtesy New-York Historical Society

NYC museums offering free admission on Inauguration Day

The Whitney, the New Museum, and others will open their doors to all on January 20

View as Map
The New-York Historical Society
| Photo courtesy New-York Historical Society

As the country prepares for the 2017 Presidential Inauguration, many galleries across New York City have heeded the call that "business should not proceed as usual in any realm," as per the call to action of the J20 Art Strike, and are closing their doors for the day. But many of the city's museums have taken the extraordinary step of waiving admission fees on Friday, January 20, arguing that instead of closing to the public, they should serve as a reminder that art in America is diverse, tolerant, and available to all.

With that in mind, we've compiled a list of the museums that will offer free admission—and, in some cases, counter-programming—on Inauguration Day. If we've missed a spot, let us know in the comments and we'll add it to the list.

Read More

1. Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)

Copy Link
215 Centre St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 619-4785
Visit Website
The Museum of Chinese in America will also offer free admission on Friday, an excellent opportunity to check out its myriad galleries devoted to the Chinese American experience. One of its new installations is a "response wall" asking participants to share how they feel about the future of America—share your thoughts there, if you feel so compelled.

2. New Museum

Copy Link
235 Bowery
New York, NY 10002
(212) 219-1222
Visit Website

The Lower East Side art museum will be pay-what-you-wish for entry on Friday, “In recognition of art's power to transform communities and to foster tolerance and empathy,” per a press release. The museum’s blockbuster Pipilotti Rist exhibit—which has drawn huge crowds and long lines—is on view until January 22, so Friday may be the time to go and immerse yourself in the “Pixel Forest.”

Courtesy New Museum

3. Whitney Museum of American Art

Copy Link
99 Gansevoort St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 570-3600
Visit Website

On Friday, the Whitney is operating on a pay-what-you-wish admission scale (as opposed to its usual $22 fee) as a way to “affirm our commitment to open dialogue, civic engagement, and the diversity of American art and culture.” The museum will also host special public programs that day, including guided tours that examine “the complexity of American identity” through art, and a speak-out organized by Occupy Museums.

Max Touhey

4. New-York Historical Society Museum & Library

Copy Link
170 Central Park W
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400
Visit Website
NYC's oldest museum is hosting a series of exhibits and public programs that examines what, exactly, the presidency means these days. Titled "The Presidency Project," the series includes various artworks (including Nari Ward's "We the People," pictured above, which takes the first three words of the preamble to the Constitution and renders them in shoelace form—the laces being provided by the people), displays of historical artifacts, and public programs. On Fridays, admission is free from 6 to 8 p.m.

5. Rubin Museum of Art

Copy Link
150 W 17th St.
New York, NY 10011
(212) 620-5000
Visit Website

On Inauguration Day, the Rubin’s weekly K2 Friday Night event is dedicated, appropriately, to the theme of “Face Your Fears.” A guided tour of the museum’s galleries will focus on “themes of powerful protection, intense vigilance, and overcoming ego,” all things that are sure to be necessary in the months (heck, days) ahead. There are snacks and (probably much-needed) cocktails, too.

6. Queens Museum

Copy Link
Great Lakes Court
Queens, NY 11368
(718) 592-9700
Visit Website
The Queens Museum will be closed on Inauguration Day (as part of a solidarity effort with the J20 strike), but those planning to attend the Womens March (or any other protest or march) in the coming days may want to head to Flushing anyway. The museum will host a workshop from noon to 2 p.m., where people can receive advice and guidance on making their own signs, buttons, and other ephemera to use in marches. The museum will also provide materials free of charge.

A photo posted by Queens Museum (@queensmuseum) on

7. Brooklyn Museum

Copy Link
200 Eastern Pkwy
Brooklyn, NY 11238
(718) 638-5000
Visit Website
Need to antidote to "Make America Great Again"? On Friday, the Brooklyn Museum will host a daylong reading of Langston Hughes's 1935 poem "Let America Be America Again," a bracing and, as the museum notes, prescient—yet still hopeful—examination of the American dream. Readings will happen every 30 minutes throughout the day.

8. Museum of Arts & Design (MAD)

Copy Link
2 Columbus Cir
New York, NY 10019
(212) 299-7777
Visit Website
MAD hopes that by offering pay-what-you-wish admission on Friday, more visitors will come to see the museum's "unprecedented" number of exhibits that spotlight the work of female artists. One of those, "Crochet Coral Reef: Toxic Seas," an examination of climate change through fiber art, will close on January 22—see it while you can.

9. Children's Museum Of The Arts

Copy Link
103 Charlton St
New York, NY 10014
For those who might need a safe space for their kids tomorrow, consider the Children's Museum of Art. The institution will be open and pay-as-you-wish from noon to 6 p.m., and the message for the day is one of inclusion: "CMA is offering its space to the community as a place to come together this Friday for reflection, support, and inspiration."

10. Bard Grad Center Gallery

Copy Link
18 W 86th St
New York, NY 10024
The Bard Graduate Center will host a reading of the United States Constitution, with the goal of "offer[ing] an open space for dialogue and contemplation," according to the space's gallery director. Readings will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.; in between, the exhibit "Charles Percier: Architecture and Design in an Age of Revolutions" (which could prove to be somewhat prescient, given the current climate) will be open for all to see.

11. Museum of the Moving Image

Copy Link
36-01 35th Ave
Astoria, NY 11106
(718) 777-6800
Visit Website
Not only will the Museum of the Moving Image offer free admission on Inauguration Day (from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.), it'll also screen the critically-acclaimed 2016 film Loving. The movie tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, whose landmark Supreme Court case (Loving v. Virginia, decided in 1967) struck down rulings against interracial marriage and represented a huge civil rights victory. The film screens at 2 p.m., and tickets will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis.

12. Newark Museum

Copy Link
49 Washington St
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 596-6550
Visit Website
No, it's technically not New York City, but for the intrepid (or the Jersey-dwellers), the Newark Museum is also offering free admission on Friday. Its tagline for the day is "rediscover the things that unite us," and the museum will draw on its century within the Newark community to provide a safe space for all that day. Gallery tours and a planetarium show are among the day's programs.
Courtesy Newark Museum

13. The Drawing Center

Copy Link
35 Wooster St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 219-2166
Visit Website
From noon to 6 p.m., the Drawing Center will offer free admission to all. Three new exhibits open today, showcasing the work of Mateo López, Jackson Mac Low, and Amy Sillman.

Loading comments...

1. Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)

215 Centre St, New York, NY 10013
The Museum of Chinese in America will also offer free admission on Friday, an excellent opportunity to check out its myriad galleries devoted to the Chinese American experience. One of its new installations is a "response wall" asking participants to share how they feel about the future of America—share your thoughts there, if you feel so compelled.
215 Centre St
New York, NY 10013

2. New Museum

235 Bowery, New York, NY 10002
Courtesy New Museum

The Lower East Side art museum will be pay-what-you-wish for entry on Friday, “In recognition of art's power to transform communities and to foster tolerance and empathy,” per a press release. The museum’s blockbuster Pipilotti Rist exhibit—which has drawn huge crowds and long lines—is on view until January 22, so Friday may be the time to go and immerse yourself in the “Pixel Forest.”

235 Bowery
New York, NY 10002

3. Whitney Museum of American Art

99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014
Max Touhey

On Friday, the Whitney is operating on a pay-what-you-wish admission scale (as opposed to its usual $22 fee) as a way to “affirm our commitment to open dialogue, civic engagement, and the diversity of American art and culture.” The museum will also host special public programs that day, including guided tours that examine “the complexity of American identity” through art, and a speak-out organized by Occupy Museums.

99 Gansevoort St
New York, NY 10014

4. New-York Historical Society Museum & Library

170 Central Park W, New York, NY 10024
NYC's oldest museum is hosting a series of exhibits and public programs that examines what, exactly, the presidency means these days. Titled "The Presidency Project," the series includes various artworks (including Nari Ward's "We the People," pictured above, which takes the first three words of the preamble to the Constitution and renders them in shoelace form—the laces being provided by the people), displays of historical artifacts, and public programs. On Fridays, admission is free from 6 to 8 p.m.
170 Central Park W
New York, NY 10024

5. Rubin Museum of Art

150 W 17th St., New York, NY 10011

On Inauguration Day, the Rubin’s weekly K2 Friday Night event is dedicated, appropriately, to the theme of “Face Your Fears.” A guided tour of the museum’s galleries will focus on “themes of powerful protection, intense vigilance, and overcoming ego,” all things that are sure to be necessary in the months (heck, days) ahead. There are snacks and (probably much-needed) cocktails, too.

150 W 17th St.
New York, NY 10011

6. Queens Museum

Great Lakes Court, Queens, NY 11368
The Queens Museum will be closed on Inauguration Day (as part of a solidarity effort with the J20 strike), but those planning to attend the Womens March (or any other protest or march) in the coming days may want to head to Flushing anyway. The museum will host a workshop from noon to 2 p.m., where people can receive advice and guidance on making their own signs, buttons, and other ephemera to use in marches. The museum will also provide materials free of charge.

A photo posted by Queens Museum (@queensmuseum) on

Great Lakes Court
Queens, NY 11368

7. Brooklyn Museum

200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11238
Need to antidote to "Make America Great Again"? On Friday, the Brooklyn Museum will host a daylong reading of Langston Hughes's 1935 poem "Let America Be America Again," a bracing and, as the museum notes, prescient—yet still hopeful—examination of the American dream. Readings will happen every 30 minutes throughout the day.
200 Eastern Pkwy
Brooklyn, NY 11238

8. Museum of Arts & Design (MAD)

2 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019
MAD hopes that by offering pay-what-you-wish admission on Friday, more visitors will come to see the museum's "unprecedented" number of exhibits that spotlight the work of female artists. One of those, "Crochet Coral Reef: Toxic Seas," an examination of climate change through fiber art, will close on January 22—see it while you can.
2 Columbus Cir
New York, NY 10019

9. Children's Museum Of The Arts

103 Charlton St, New York, NY 10014
For those who might need a safe space for their kids tomorrow, consider the Children's Museum of Art. The institution will be open and pay-as-you-wish from noon to 6 p.m., and the message for the day is one of inclusion: "CMA is offering its space to the community as a place to come together this Friday for reflection, support, and inspiration."
103 Charlton St
New York, NY 10014

10. Bard Grad Center Gallery

18 W 86th St, New York, NY 10024
The Bard Graduate Center will host a reading of the United States Constitution, with the goal of "offer[ing] an open space for dialogue and contemplation," according to the space's gallery director. Readings will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.; in between, the exhibit "Charles Percier: Architecture and Design in an Age of Revolutions" (which could prove to be somewhat prescient, given the current climate) will be open for all to see.
18 W 86th St
New York, NY 10024

11. Museum of the Moving Image

36-01 35th Ave, Astoria, NY 11106
Not only will the Museum of the Moving Image offer free admission on Inauguration Day (from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.), it'll also screen the critically-acclaimed 2016 film Loving. The movie tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, whose landmark Supreme Court case (Loving v. Virginia, decided in 1967) struck down rulings against interracial marriage and represented a huge civil rights victory. The film screens at 2 p.m., and tickets will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis.
36-01 35th Ave
Astoria, NY 11106

12. Newark Museum

49 Washington St, Newark, NJ 07102
Courtesy Newark Museum
No, it's technically not New York City, but for the intrepid (or the Jersey-dwellers), the Newark Museum is also offering free admission on Friday. Its tagline for the day is "rediscover the things that unite us," and the museum will draw on its century within the Newark community to provide a safe space for all that day. Gallery tours and a planetarium show are among the day's programs.
49 Washington St
Newark, NJ 07102

13. The Drawing Center

35 Wooster St, New York, NY 10013
From noon to 6 p.m., the Drawing Center will offer free admission to all. Three new exhibits open today, showcasing the work of Mateo López, Jackson Mac Low, and Amy Sillman.
35 Wooster St
New York, NY 10013