How To Score Free Admission At Philly Museums This August And September

Explore Philly's stellar attractions for free on select days...

It’s been a hot summer season in Philadelphia, but luckily, your wallet doesn’t have to suffer the heat this August and September.

From now till the official end of summer on Saturday, September 22, you can score entry to some of the city’s best museums, attractions and events for the cool price of $0 (or a pay-what-you-wish price tag).

We’ve compiled a list of more than a dozen no-cost ways to get your culture fix this summer (and soak up some gratis air conditioning, too). That includes admission, live music and activities at the Barnes Foundation, a bug- and beer-filled party alongside pay-what-you-wish admission at the Academy of Natural Sciences, a free celebration of the U.S. Constitution at — you guessed it — the National Constitution Center and more.

Check out our guide to free admission days at Philly museums and attractions this August and September, below.

Pay-What-You-Wish Admission at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Photo Courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art

Explore the nooks and crannies of the hallowed Philadelphia Museum of Art for a pay-what-you-wish fee every Wednesday evening (5-8:45 p.m.) and the first Sunday of the month. These special days grant visitors access to both the regular collection of masterpieces from Van Gogh, Cassatt and Picasso as well as special exhibits like Modern Times: American Art 1910–1950, a collection of paintings, sculptures and even fashion that spotlights modern American art that's on view through Monday, September 3.

Pay-What-You-Wish Admission at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

When:Every Wednesday, 5-8:45 p.m.; first Sunday of the month, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Where:Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Cost:Pay what you wish

www.philamuseum.org

Free Friday Afternoons at the National Museum of American Jewish History

NMAJHPhoto by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Swing by the National Museum of American Jewish History any Friday afternoon through Friday, August 24 to score complimentary admission from 1-5 p.m. The limited-time freebie day is part of the museum’s celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s birthday, so don't miss the special exhibit dedicated to him while you’re there. Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music utilizes sound installations, 100 historic artifacts and more to examine the West Side Story composer’s life, musical influence and social activism.

Free Friday Afternoons at the National Museum of American Jewish History

When:Fridays through August 24, 1-5 p.m.
Where:National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 S. Independence Mall E.
Cost:Free

www.nmajh.org

Free Sundays at the Woodmere Art Museum

Rotunda at Woodmere art Museum in PhiladelphiaPhoto by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Swing by Chestnut Hill's Woodmere Art Museum, housed in a cool 19th-century stone mansion on Germantown Avenue, for free admission on Sundays. Half of the museum has been renovated to look like a contemporary art gallery (the rotunda room is especially impressive), while the other half retains its historic feel with original woodwork and furnishings. No matter which side you’re on, all works housed here are dedicated to Philadelphia art and artists, from 19th-century portraits to contemporary sculptures and photography. Race car fans will dig the current special exhibition, Fast Lane: The Nascar Photography of Darryl Moran, on view through Sunday, October 28.

Free Sundays at the Woodmere Art Museum

When:Sundays, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Where:Woodmere Art Museum, 9201 Germantown Avenue
Cost:Free

www.woodmereartmuseum.org

Community Nights at The Franklin Institute

People jumping at The Franklin Institute in PhiladelphiaPhoto by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Swish past the giant Benjamin Franklin statue and into The Franklin Institute for the price of zilch during a handful of special community nights happening through the end of summer and beyond. These after-hours soirees — next happening on Tuesday, August 21 and Tuesday, September 18 — give guests the chance to browse all permanent exhibitions (including that famous giant heart) and take part in immersive activities that take kids beyond the classroom to learn about things like electricity, genetics and experimentation.

Community Nights at The Franklin Institute

When:Tuesday, August 21 and Tuesday, September 18, 5-8 p.m.
Where:The Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th Street
Cost:Free

www.fi.edu

Dinos After Dark: Bug Edition at the Academy of Natural Sciences

Dinosaur Hall at the Academy of Natural SciencesPhoto by Mike Servedio for The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Bugs of every shape, size and leg-count get the spotlight treatment during the August 23 edition of the Academy of Natural Sciences’ monthly Dinos After Dark party, featuring pay-what-you-wish admission. Guests can watch a high-def show starring real-life creepy crawlers, talk to an entomologist about what it’s like working with bugs for a living and embark on a scavenger hunt to find insects housed within the museum. Not a bug guy or gal? Explore the rest of the fascinating museum (including Dinosaur Hall, above) or hang out in the Dino Drafts beer garden.

Dinos After Dark: Bug Edition at the Academy of Natural Sciences

When:Thursday, August 23, 4-8 p.m.
Where:The Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Cost:Pay what you wish (suggested donation of $10 per person)

www.ansp.org

Happy Birthday, Bernstein! at the National Museum of American Jewish History

If you can’t fit a Friday afternoon into your schedule for a visit to the National Museum of American Jewish History (see No. 2 above), head over on Saturday, August 25, for a free day to celebrate what would have been Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday. Check out the museum from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and explore the special exhibit dedicated to him, which closes on Sunday, September 2.

Happy Birthday, Bernstein! at the National Museum of American Jewish History

When:Saturday, August 25, 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Where:National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 S. Independence Mall E.
Cost:Free

www.nmajh.org

Back to School! Free Kids' Admission to the Museum of the American Revolution

Museum of the American RevolutionPhoto by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Over Labor Day weekend (September 1-3), all children 12 and under get free admission to the Museum of the American Revolution as well as a complimentary back-to-school swag bag stuffed with colored pencils, an eraser, a history-themed coloring book and pint-sized Declaration of Independence. The weekend also includes special hands-on activities in the museum’s discovery center, Revolution Place, including a tutorial on how kids learned their ABCs in the 18th century. And author Lauren Tarshis will be on hand to chat about writing about the Revolutionary War through the eyes of its youngest witnesses in her book I Survived the American Revolution, 1776.

Back to School! Free Kids' Admission to the Museum of the American Revolution

When:September 1-3, 9:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Where:Museum of the American Revolution, 101 S. 3rd Street
Cost:Free, youth 12 and under

www.amrevmuseum.org

PECO Free First Sunday Family Day at the Barnes Foundation

The Barnes FoundationPhoto courtesy The Barnes Foundation

The PECO Free First Sunday Family Day at the Barnes Foundation on Sunday, September 2 is jam-packed with activities centered around the theme “Reboot, Renew and Revive” — perfect as we leave summer behind to head into a new season. Art-making workshops school guests on how to make bird houses, dream catchers, solar prints and more. Head to the miniature Zen gardens to shape sand and stones into meditative works of art, or join olive Dance Theatre for some highly Instagrammable freeze-dance activities. Sistahs Attune, an all-female vocal ensemble singing Afrocentric jazz and soul music, also perform two lively sets. Find time amid all that fun to explore the Barnes’ stunning permanent collection and special Renoir exhibition, which closes Monday, September 3.

PECO Free First Sunday Family Day at the Barnes Foundation

When:Sunday, September 2, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Where:Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Cost:Free

www.barnesfoundation.org

Campus Philly Collegefest 2018

Campus Philly Collegefest in Dilworth ParkPhoto courtesy Campus Philly

On Saturday, September 8, Dilworth Park transforms into a giant carnival and networking event for university students heading back to class in the Philly area. Collegefest guests can play games for a chance to win prizes from local businesses, jam to live music and catch pop-up performances by local artists. Attendees also get free admission to 14 museums and attractions — including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Independence Seaport Museum and Eastern State Penitentiary — and a free all-day ride pass on the popular purple Philly PHLASH bus. Note that students must register online or in person at Dilworth Park to get free attraction admission.

Campus Philly Collegefest 2018

When:Saturday, September 8
Where:Various locations including Dilworth Park, 1 S. 15th Street
Cost:Free with registration

www.campusphilly.org

Macy’s Family Fun Day at the African American Museum in Philadelphia

The African American Museum in PhiladelphiaPhoto by J. Fusco For Visit Philadelphia

On Saturday, September 8, the African American Museum in Philadelphia throws open its doors for free to the first 250 visitors for a day dedicated to boosting youth empowerment in the community. Besides the chance to explore the museum's permanent and temporary collections, younguns can create their own masterpieces at arts-and-crafts stations and tap into their inner musician in drumming and dance workshops held throughout the day.

Macy’s Family Fun Day at the African American Museum in Philadelphia

When:Saturday, September 8, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Where:The African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street
Cost:Free for first 250 guests

www.aampmuseum.org

Constitution Day at the National Constitution Center

National Constitution CenterPhoto By M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Is there a better place on Earth to celebrate Constitution Day than at the National Constitution Center? On Monday, September 17, the museum throws a party to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution that includes free admission to all exhibits within the museum and activities throughout the day. Kick off the morning with a patriotic flag raising and live performance of The Star-Spangled Banner. Later, watch as 50 immigrants from around the world become citizens of the United States. Around lunchtime, follow the smell of burning candles to a birthday celebration, complete with a cake designed to look like the Constitution and a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday to You.

Constitution Day at the National Constitution Center

When:Monday, September 17, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Where:National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street
Cost:Free

www.constitutioncenter.org

Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day

Penn MuseumPhoto courtesy Penn Museum

Smithsonian magazine’s annual Museum Day gives you a full day to explore 25 museums and attractions in the area for the sweet price of free. Go here to find the full list of local locations offering free admission that day. It includes the Penn Museum (above), which has recently completed some must-see new additions and renovations, historic Fort Mifflin on the Delaware River and some cool old mansions like Fonthill Castle and the Mercer Museum in nearby Doylestown.

Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day

When:Saturday, September 22
Where:Various locations including the Penn Museum, 3260 South Street
Cost:Free

www.smithsonianmag.com

22 Free Things to Do in Philadelphia's Historic District

Independence Historic National ParkPhoto by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Planning a history-centric visit to the City of Brotherly Love? Nearly every major site in the Historic District is free to visit, including biggies like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall (above) and the U.S. Mint. You can also stroll down the nation’s oldest continuously inhabited street (Elfreth's Alley), find secret artworks off the typical tourist path (Second Bank of the United States) and swing in a hammock near a floating beer garden along the Delaware River (Spruce Street Harbor Park). Find more than 20 of these free options in and around the Historic District here.

22 Free Things to Do in Philadelphia's Historic District

Where:Various locations including Independence Hall, 520 Chestnut Street
Cost:Free

READ MORE

Top Free Attractions in Philadelphia

ICAPhoto by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Philadelphia's Historic District isn’t the only neighborhood offering free things to do. Budget-conscious adventurers can find inexpensive ways to conquer the entire city with this list of the top free attractions in all of Philadelphia. It lays out some of the city’s best parks, which are all abloom and particularly inviting in the summer and early fall; museums that are always free, such as the Institute of Contemporary Art (above) and The Fabric Workshop and Museum; and complimentary outdoor yoga classes and late-night film screenings on the Delaware River waterfront. Hurry and take advantage of all the fun before summer slips right on away.

Top Free Attractions in Philadelphia

Where:Various locations including the Institute of Contemporary Art, 118 S. 36th Street
Cost:Free

READ MORE

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