IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Museum Day showcases culture at no cost

Alas, another Labor Day has come and gone — time to say goodbye to beach reads, blockbuster movies and big, bumbling crowds baked to a crisp by too much summer sun. It’s time instead to start thinking about fall travel, that stress-reducing shoulder season when crowds shrink, prices drop and more sophisticated pleasures prevail.
Girls Pulling Rigging on Ship
If you're looking for the more sophisticated pleasures of fall travel, mark your calendar for Saturday, September 29. That’s the day that hundreds of museums across the country, including the South Street Seaport Museum in Lower Manhattan, N.Y., will participate in Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day by opening their doors for free.Gail Mooney / Corbis

Alas, another Labor Day has come and gone — time to say goodbye to beach reads, blockbuster movies and big, bumbling crowds baked to a crisp by too much summer sun.

It’s time instead to start thinking about fall travel, that stress-reducing shoulder season when crowds shrink, prices drop and more sophisticated pleasures prevail.

If that sounds appealing, you may want to mark your calendar for Saturday, September 29. That’s the day that hundreds of museums across the country will participate in Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day by opening their doors for free.

The idea builds on the spirit of the free-admission policy of the Smithsonian Institution’s facilities in Washington, D.C. This year, 637 museums, historic sites and cultural institutions will participate.

To join the festivities, visitors need to present a Museum Day Admission Card, which can be downloaded . Cards can also be found in the September issue of the magazine.

Each card is good for general admission for two people at one participating museum (although there’s nothing to prevent you from downloading multiple cards). IMAX screenings, select exhibits and other special events are not included.

To find out if a particular institution is participating, click . Or consider a visit to one of the following cities where multiple museums (those listed and others) set the stage for free fun and cultural travel:

Baltimore
Baseball fans and railroad buffs are both double lucky. For the former, there’s the and ; for the latter, the and . History also lives on the decks of the and among the interactive exhibits at the .

Boston
Just a few blocks apart, the and span thousands of years of art history. Head across the river to Cambridge for dinosaurs and meteorites at the and ethnographic and archeological artifacts at the .

Dallas/Fort Worth
Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol are just three of the more than 150 contemporary artists on display at the . (Designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando, the museum itself is a work of art in its own right.) Other participating museums include , and .

Honolulu
Easily overlooked by the shoppers and sunbathers in Waikiki, the is part science museum, part archive of Polynesian culture. Visitors can check out the kahili (feather standards) of Hawaiian kings, walk through an interactive volcano or explore the night sky in the on-site planetarium. The museum also operates the on Pier 7 in Honolulu Harbor.

Los Angeles
Not surprisingly, Museum Day is a multicultural affair in this melting-pot metropolis. Participating institutions include the in downtown’s Little Tokyo area, the in Long Beach and the , a repository for Jewish culture and heritage in the hills above Santa Monica.

Miami
Fashionistas may flock to South Beach, but more lasting beauty abounds at museums throughout the Miami metropolitan area. The highlights works by international and contemporary artists; the showcases pre-Columbian and West African artifacts; and the spans the globe and several thousand years of art history.

New York
More than 30 cultural institutions in the five boroughs are participating in this year’s event, so you’re going to have to make some choices. Among the options: (think Rembrandt, Titian and Vermeer), the (crafts, textiles and other works by self-taught artists) and the (sailing ships and city history).

Philadelphia
From antiquities to the avant-garde, it’s all on display at the University of Pennsylvania. showcases dozens of ancient cultures, while the offers serial exhibitions from today’s emerging artists. For something different, check out the , which Philadelphia magazine recently named “The Best Museum You’ve Never Been To.”

San Diego
Located near each other in Balboa Park, the and couldn’t be more different. The former celebrates the history of flight; the latter, the down-to-earth charm of mingei or “art of the people.” If you like your art a bit edgier, head instead to the .

Seattle
Celebrating its 75th anniversary, the reopened this spring with almost double the gallery space and nearly new 1,000 artworks donated by patrons and collectors. Several other local landmarks — the , and — will also be free on the 29th.