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Free Monthly Museum Days

Our guide to the best free monthly museum days in the Bay Area
By - posted 1/4/2017

Whether the economy is strong or sour, most of the museums in San Francisco and the Bay Area throw their doors open once a month to allow free admission to all comers.

Generally on the first Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday of each month, these free days are often crowded, but if you arrive early you’ll stand a great chance of seeing some of the Bay Areas best museums for free.

Free Admission to San Francisco Bay Area Museums

California Academy of Sciences
FREE Sundays (only once a quarter)  – confirmed 1/4/17
The Academy now only has a few totally free days a year – usually once a quarter on Sundays. Other free admission deals – San Francisco Free Days Spring 2017 (for SF residents only) 
– 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Asian Art Museum
FREE First Sundays  – confirmed 1/4/17
One of the largest museums in the Western world devoted exclusively to Asian art with a collection of over 17,000 artworks spanning 6,000 years of history. Special collection surcharges may apply.
– 200 Larkin Street, San Francisco – BART: Civic Center

Legion of Honor
FREE First Tuesdays – confirmed 1/4/17
This exquisite Beaux-Arts building located on a perch with an unbelievable view overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge housed a collection of 4,000 years of ancient and European arts. Special exhibition surcharges may apply.
– 100 34th Ave, San Francisco

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
FREE First Tuesdays – confirmed 1/4/17
Multidisciplinary art center features exhibitions, performances, film/video and rotating art exhibits with a focus on contemporary and emerging artists form the Bay Area and beyond.
– 3rd and Mission, San Francisco – BART: Powell Street

de Young Museum
FREE First Tuesdays – confirmed 1/4/17
One of the most visited art museums in the country, the de Young showcases a priceless collection of American art from the 17th through 20th centuries along with art from Central and South America and the Pacific and an impressive collection of textiles. Special exhibition fees may apply. The de Young also hosts a free “Friday Nights at the de Young” program seasaonlly that kicks off in 2017 on June 2nd
– 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

museum of craft and design dogpatchMuseum of Craft and Design
FREE First Tuesdays – confirmed 1/4/17
After six years in Union Square and two years of pop-ups, the Museum of Craft & Design opened up their permanent location in the Dogpatch. Rather than featuring paintings or traditional sculpture, the museum showcases other types of artwork that range from furniture, kinetic sculptures, and jewelry.
– 2569 Third Street, San Francisco

Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD)
FREE Third Thursday Evenings | 5-8 pm – confirmed 1/4/17
The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) offers free entry during Third Thursdays in Yerba Buena. The museum is dedicated to sharing the art and stories of our common African heritage with audiences from around the world.
– 685 Mission St (at 3rd), San Francisco (Ground floor of the St. Regis)

exploratorium[1]The Exploratorium
FREE Days – Five or six times a year – confirmed 1/4/17
The Exploratorium at Pier 15 is a museum of science, art and human perception with hundreds of interactive exhibits, many geared towards children and families. Free days typically are Groundhog Day (February 2nd), Pi Day (March 14th), Mothers Day (May), Engineering Day (Late September) and Founder’s Day (Mid October)
– Pier 15, San Francisco

Bank of America Free Days
Free weekends at seven Bay Area museums for cardholders – confirmed 1/4/17
Holders of Bank of America credit cards and debit cards get free admission to seven Bay Area museums for one weekend each month. Museums include Contemporary Jewish Museum (SF), Legion of Honor (SF), de Young Museum (SF), San Jose Museum of Art (SJ) and The Tech Museum of Innovation (SJ).

Oakland Museum of California
FREE First Sundays – confirmed 1/4/17
Covering four city blocks in Oakland, the museum specializes in collections of art, history and natural science to tell the story of California.
– 1000 Oak Street, Oakland – BART: Lake Merritt

Contemporary Jewish Museum
FREE First Tuesdays confirmed 1/4/17
The Contemporary Jewish Museum engages audiences of all backgrounds through dynamic exhibitions and programs that explore contemporary perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas. And the architecture of the Museum itself is a work of art.
– 736 Mission Street, San Francisco – BART: Montgomery Street

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.08.51 PMSFMOMA: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
FREE Family Days (Periodic)
– confirmed 1/4/17
While the museum doesn’t have a regulary-recurring free day for the general public, the SFMOMA does have many free options. There are periodic “Free Family Days” where up to two adults may claim a free tickets when accompanied by a visitor 18 and under. Everyone 18 and under gets free admission every day. The museum features over 45,000 square feet of art-filled public spaces (no ticket required). The public spaces are open daily at 9:30am with last admission a half hour before closing.  There are also periodic 

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.06.01 PMBAMPFA Berkeley Art Museum
FREE First Thursdays 
– confirmed 1/4/17
BAMPFA, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, is the visual arts center of the University of California, Berkeley. Their mission is to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film.
– 2155 Center Street, Berkeley – BART: Downtown Berkeley

Other Free Days

  • Autodesk Gallery (Embarcadero) – Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday – confirmed 1/4/17
  • Bay Area Discovery Museum (Sausalito) – First Wednesdays – confirmed 1/4/17
  • Conservatory of Flowers (Golden Gate Park) – First Tuesdays – confirmed 1/4/17
  • GLBT Museum (Castro) – First Wednesdays – confirmed 1/4/17
  • Pez Museum (Burlingame) – First Thursdays – confirmed 1/4/17
  • San Francisco Zoo (Outer Sunset) – Typically either first or second Wednesdays (SF residents only) – but often only announced with one week’s notice or less. – confirmed 1/4/17
  • Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History (Santa Cruz) – First Fridays – confirmed 1/4/17
  • SF Camerawork (SoMa) – Free admission every day (Closed Sundays & Mondays) – confirmed 1/4/17
  • Chinese Historical Society (Chinatown) – First Sundays – confirmed 1/4/17
  • Japanese Tea Garden (Golden Gate Park) – Free Mon., Wed., Fri. for admission before 10am. – confirmed 1/4/17
  • San Francisco Botanical Garden – Free for all SF residents with valid ID. For everyone else, the gardens are free daily from 7:30am to 9:30am, the second Tuesday of every month and on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. – confirmed 1/4/17
  • Berkeley Botanical Garden – First Wednesday of each month

Listings updated and verified on 1/4/17


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