Free Museum Days Make Seeing California More Affordable


If money's no object, go ahead and spring $15 to visit your favorite museum. Sometimes you just have to pay the price because it's the only time you can go. And when places such as DeYoung Museum (shown in photo) showcase the current Pablo Picasso collection from the Musée National Picasso in Paris, there's no getting around paying $26, the cost of a ticket for this special event. It is what it is-and worth it if you can afford it! The largest and most significant repository of the Picasso's work in the world is in San Francisco through October 10, 2011.

No one ever said that art has to be affordable, or even accessible to the common man. However, there are some free museum days around California that allow us poor folks to see art and collections, an inspiring pick-me-up that's priceless.

The major art centers in California are located in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. Sacramento has lots of museums ranging from railroads to even the State Capitol (which is always free to see,) but cities such as Sacramento and San Diego aren't real generous with the concept of "free", compared to Los Angeles, for instance. San Diego area gives its residents a break with many free days, but that doesn't help the rest of us.

If you're going to see one museum in California, The Getty ranks as one of our favorites, and it's always free admission. How can such a luxurious place with so many rare collections afford to be free? Old money and extreme wealth are part of the formula that helped build a world class museum that people from around the globe come to see. From the minute you step onto the pilotless tram that takes you to the top of the hill, you're in for a lot of "wow!" Hat's off to rich people who care to share.

The Getty Villa is also free and is located in Pacific Palisade. A hefty parking fee is charged at the gate (around $15,) but it is possible to take public transportation into the venue to enjoy it, minus the parking fee. This venue requires you book your free admission time online (

While the cities mentioned have many free admission museums not listed here, below is a list of museums that normally charge fees ranging from around $8 to 20. As of this posting in August 2011, they are offering free days. See more details on our web page.

  • Bay Area / San Francisco museums with free admission days: DeYoung, Exploratorium, Asian Art, Bay Are Discovery, Conservatory of Flowers, Berkeley Art, and many more!
  • Los Angeles Area museums with free admission days: Autry National Center of the American West, Hammer (at UCLA), Huntington Library & Gardens, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Norton Simon Museum, Pacific Asia Museum, Page Museum La Brea Tar Pits, Museum of Contemporary Art, and many more!
  • Sacramento museum with free day: Crocker Art Museum. Also look for Sacramento's 1 day per year (usually in February) where 25 museums offer free admission for one day only.
  • San Diego museums with free days: Museum of Contemporary Art, and New Children's Museum.



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