Museums may offer enriching, interesting and exciting history, art and science to visitors, but they can be a bit pricey.
But on Saturday, Sept. 18, more than 1,000 museums, zoos and cultural centers across the United States will welcome visitors for free as part of the 17th Museum Day, put on by the Smithsonian magazine.
The company wants to celebrate the reopening of museums after museum closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the event being canceled last year. This year’s theme, “Experience America,” represents the return and resurgence of the country’s diverse cultural experiences.
“Museum Day represents a national commitment to access, equity and inclusion and after a rough year and a half, we’re excited for museums to open their doors and offer these educational and cultural experiences to the public for free this Museum Day,” Amy Wilkins, chief revenue officer at Smithsonian Media, told USA TODAY.
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In 2019, 324,922 tickets for the event were downloaded, resulting in over 900,000 museum visitors because participants attend with paying visitors, too.
How to get a ticket for free Museum Day entry
In order to snag a ticket, people have to select a museum and download one from Smithsonian magazine. Tickets will be available starting Aug. 18. You can only download one ticket per email address, but each one allows entry for two people.
Tickets may be free, but take note that many participating museums will have varying COVID-19 safety precautions in place this year. Check the museum website before you go.
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What museums can I visit for free on Museum Day?
With over 1,000 museums expected to participate, visitors are bound to find one they will enjoy. Topics and themes range from air and space, art, children, general history, science and natural history museums – all ready for a flood of eager visitors. The full list of museums can on be viewed on the Smithsonian magazine website, with new ones signing up every day.
The Smithsonian already has museums open to the public for free every day, such as The National Museum of Natural History, National Air and Space Museum and National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Museum Day brings possibilities to visit other unique finds and hidden gems that aren’t normally free.
Check out the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York and walk the entire length of an aircraft carrier. Or enrich your mind with art at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, Florida, the largest in the area. In Alabama you can go to USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park and step right onto the QQII battleship USS Alabama and submarine USS Drum, both national historical landmarks.
In California, visitors can soak up the sun and explore the California African American Museum. Visitors will learn about Black art, history and culture with a focus on California and the West.
Visitors to the Museum of Russian Icons in Massachusetts can walk up and down three floors of galleries, collected icons and related objects that give visitors a deep dive into Russian culture.
And the list goes on.
“Most museums rely on public funds and donations, and those are not generally forthcoming in years in which people can’t actually experience all the amazing things they have to offer, so we’re really looking forward to being able to draw attention to and support, these cultural institutions,” Wilkins told USA TODAY.
Quaker Oats giveaway: Science kits, virtual Smithsonian tour
This year’s event is sponsored by The Quaker Oats Company, which is giving away 100 Smithsonian science kits a day between now and Sept. 15.
Virtual museum field trips and other prizes will be available, too. Participants can enter for a chance to win at QuakerBacktoSchool.com.