Lifestyle

Every Free Museum in Austin

Knowledge is power, and luckily, some of Austin’s finer institutions of learning are generously giving away that power for absolutely nothing. Whether they're always free, have free days, or even just a suggested donation, here's where to get your zero-dollar culture-palooza in Austin...

Taylor Prewitt/Thrillist

Austin Fire Museum

Downtown
Hours: Always free Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5pm
A piece of history itself, this 1938 fire station houses Austin Fire Department uniforms and equipment dating back to the 1870s.

O. Henry Museum

Downtown
Hours: Always free Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5pm
In addition to free admission, William Sydney Porter’s ol’ haunt offers free monthly readings of his literary works on the last Saturday of each month.
 

Susanna Dickinson Museum

Downtown
Hours: Always free Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5pm
Susanna Dickinson managed to survive the Battle of the Alamo, but we’re more impressed that her “rubble-rock” homestead survived 146 years of Downtown Austin growth. Visit now before it’s gobbled up by condos.

Bullock State Texas History Museum

Downtown
Hours: Free on the first Sunday of each month, noon to 5pm
The good news: Texas-themed artifacts, revolving exhibits, and garage parking are all free on the first Sunday of each month. The bad news: IMAX movies will still cost you $13.

George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center

Rosewood
Hours: Always free Monday through Wednesday, 10am to 6pm; Thursdays, 10am to 9pm; Fridays, 10am to 5pm; and Saturdays, 10am to 4pm
Check out 36,000sqft of space dedicated to African American history and culture -- tack on a free tour guide or go it alone.

Courtesy of Texas Military Forces Museum

Texas Military Forces Museum

Tarrytown
Hours: Always free Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Don’t "get" art? There’s not much to understand about big, bad military tanks, artillery, weapons, and aircraft dating back to 1823.

Harry Ransom Center

University of Texas Campus
Hours: Always free Monday through Wednesday, and Fridays, 10am to 5pm; Thursdays, 10am to 5pm; and Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 5pm
The world’s first photograph and an original Gutenberg Bible both call the Harry Ransom Center home. You’ll just call it a cool place to hang on a Sunday.

Austin History Center

Downtown
Hours: Always free Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 6pm; and Sundays, noon to 6pm
A treasure trove of historical and photographic Austin archives, the Austin History Center also features special programs and themed exhibits in its stately Reading Room.

Courtesy of Texas DPS Museum and Research Center

Texas DPS Museum & Research Center

North Lamar Boulevard
Hours: Always free Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm
Here’s a reason to visit DPS headquarters that won’t make you groan: an in-house museum detailing the 80-year history of the law enforcement branch.

Austin Nature & Science Center

Hours: Always free Monday through Saturday, 9am to 5pm; and Sundays, noon to 5pm
Technically, the Dino pit is for young children, but noted archaeologist Indiana Jones never shied away from a challenge, so why should you?

Blanton Museum of Art

University of Texas Campus
Hours: Free on Thursdays, 10am to 5pm
Third Thursdays at the Blanton are extra special (and free!) with extended museum hours, yoga in the lobby, tours, and special programs and exhibits.

The Contemporary Austin

Multiple locations
Hours: Free on Tuesdays, 11am to 7pm at the Jones Center and 10am to 4pm at Laguna Gloria
Both locations offer contemporary art to rival your inner finger painter. Only Laguna Gloria, however, offers a 9ft tall crying bunny fountain for a limited time.

Elisabet Ney Museum

Hyde Park
Hours: Always free Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5pm
At one point, Elisabet Ney’s Formosa studio was the meeting place for Austin’s aristocratic elite. These days, even the bourgeoisie can walk its hallowed halls, scoping the sculptures for free. 
 

Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center 

River Street
Hours: Always free Monday through Thursday, 10am to 6pm; Fridays, 10am to 5:30pm; and Saturdays, 10am to 4pm
Exhibits of local and national Latino artists are free; a slate of adult art classes, including singing and guitar, are not.

Mexic-Arte Museum

Downtown
Hours: Always free Sundays and in December
Because the Mexic-Arte Museum is smack dab in the middle of Downtown, you’ll still have to pay for parking to get an eye on a rotating calendar of exhibits by artists from the United States, Mexico, and Latin America.

UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum

Zilker
Hours: Free this summer, Tuesday through Friday, 10am to 4pm; and Saturday through Sunday, noon to 4pm. Free throughout the year on the first Sunday of each month, noon to 4pm
Through August, jaunts across all four acres of native Texas plant gardens and original Charles Umlauf sculptures are absolutely, completely, 110% free.

The Thinkery

Mueller
Hours: Free with a suggested $1 donation on Wednesdays, 4-8pm
By day, The Thinkery caters to underage minors interested in science, art, and fun. By night, it’s still a playground for children, but at least it’s free on Wednesdays? The venue does host the occasional adult night, but being a card-carrying grown-up will cost between $15 and $20 admission.
 

Texas Music Museum

East Side
Hours: Always free Monday through Friday, 9am to 4pm
With some music artifacts sprinkled here and some history lessons scattered there, the Texas Music Museum’s gallery spans genres from Tejano to country to the blues.

Capitol Visitors Center

Downtown
Hours: Always free Monday through Saturday, 9am to 5pm; and Sundays, noon to 5pm
Where Texas laws are made and broken and where Rick Perry’s villainous/heroic (subtract as you see fit) origin story began.

Texas Governor’s Mansion

Downtown
Hours: Always free Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 2-4pm
See how the governor of our great state lives with a free guided tour of his humble abode. Try slipping the tour guide a $20 to sneak a peek at the sex dungeon (you just know there’s a sex dungeon).

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