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Free Museums, Free Museum Days & Free Museum Admission in San Francisco

Visit San Francisco Bay Area Museums for Free


Free Museums, Free Museum Days & Free Museum Admission in San Francisco

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art exhibit to unveil its Fisher Collection included Bruce Nauman's "Life Death / Knows Doesn't Know" (1983).

Free Museums, Free Museum Days & Free Museum Admission in San Francisco

The massive California Academy of Sciences, one of San Francisco's biggest attractions and greenest projects, as seen from the tower of the de Young. Both museums are in Golden Gate Park.

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Free Museums, Free Museum Days & Free Museum Admission in San Francisco

At the Contemporary Jewish Museum, just across the street from Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, youths ages 18 and under get in free.

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San Francisco has a big and broad collection of top-notch museums, and nearly all of them can be visited for free--and here’s how (and when and for whom). Below are some general guidelines and free admission programs to know about; a list, in alphabetical order, of San Francisco Bay Area museums, their free-admission days and/or other offers of free admission; and lastly, a list of museums that are always free.


  • Most major San Francisco Bay Area museums are free for everyone at least one day each month, and several are always free for children ages 12 and under.

  • Various local museums provide free admission under two nationwide programs:
    Bank of America’s Museums on Us -- Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders get free general admission to certain museums during the first full weekend of every month. The museums in the Bay Area are San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora, de Young, Legion of Honor, Contemporary Jewish Museum and Zeum; Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland; and San Jose’s Museum of Art and Tech Museum of Innovation.

    Blue Star Museums -- Launched in the summer of 2010, this program provides free admission to designated museums for active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Included are the Bay Area Discovery Museum, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, Children’s Creativity Museum, CuriOdyssey (formerly Coyote Point Museum) in San Mateo, de Young and Legion of Honor, Filoli, Lawrence Hall of Science, Museum of Craft and Design, Oakland Museum of California, San Jose Museum of Art, Walt Disney Family Museum and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.  

  • Before you go on a free day: Be prepared for crowds. Because of capacity limitations, admission is not guaranteed, so it’s best to arrive early. If you’re planning a group visit, check with the museum first; some museums limit or prohibit group visits on their free days.

  • Reduced admission: Most museums give discounts to seniors, youths, children and students. Check for other possible discounts--for instance, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts also gives price breaks to visitors who ride public transportation and to teachers.
    On certain nights, many major museums stay open and host special programs, entertainment and cash bars, all at a discount; see our guide to museum nightlife for alternatives to your standard happy hour.




See next page for free-admission days and deals at more Bay Area museums.
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