Museums In NY, NJ, And PA That Are Free For Students To Visit

You don’t have to travel too far to spend a day admiring works of art and learning more about local history at a student budget-friendly price. As much as you may love to explore different sights across the U.S. and even abroad, you cannot deny the dent that these trips may put in your wallet if you frequently travel. While many museums offer discounted ticket values for students or are free of charge only to students at specific universities, a select few near Rutgers University in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have free admission at all times. Here are of some of the local museums students can consistently visit at a low cost.

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  1. 1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York, NY

    Topping the list of museums that are always free of charge for college students to attend is the Met in New York City. This art museum is one of the most notable in the entire country, featuring some classic works of art. For students attending schools in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, admission is pay as you wish - which essentially means that even though the suggested price for students is $12, as long as you present your student I.D. you can pay however much you want. Keep an eye out for any special collections the Met exhibits as well since these are often no additional cost. For example, every year from May through September they hold The Costume Institute’s Spring exhibition (a gown from last year’s theme, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” is pictured above) which corresponds with the Met Gala held on the first Monday of every May. This year’s upcoming theme will be “Camp: Notes On Fashion.” One of The Met’s current exhibits is, “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll” which showcases the instruments of some of the most celebrated rock and roll musicians, such as The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, and Joan Jett, and runs until October 1st. Students can also visit the Met’s additional locations, the Met Cloisters and the Met Breuer, for the same pay as you wish cost.

  2. 2. The Museum at FIT - New York, NY

    Also free in New York City is the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Since this museum is a part of the University, it has free admission at all times for every visitor and is not just limited to students. This year The Museum at FIT is also celebrating its 50th anniversary through their current special exhibit, “Ehibitionism: 50 Years of The Museum at FIT” which is open until April 20th and features items from previous collections such as “The Corset” (2000), "The Gothic: Dark Glamour" (2008 - pictured above), "A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk” (2013), “Fairy Tale Fashion” (2016), and “Black Fashion Designers” (2017). While this particular exhibit is not open to the public for much longer, there are still plenty of fascinating collections to check out. “Fabric In Fashion” is open until May 11th and explores the relationship between textiles and silhouettes, while “Minimalism/Maximalism” opens on May 28th and features pieces from the differing aesthetics. The Museum at FIT is a must-visit for any fan of fashion.

  3. 3. New Jersey State Museum - Trenton, NJ

    Like the Met (and a few other museums on this list) the New Jersey State Museum has recommended donation costs, but admission for all visitors is generally free. The museum’s Planetarium, however, does charge $7 for adults to visit. The collections featured in the New Jersey State Museum encompass all aspects of the state’s history and culture, including archaeology, ethnography, fine art, and natural history. There are ten long-term exhibitions in these various categories, and the two current special exhibitions include, “Objects Count: A Decade of Collecting at the New Jersey State Museum” which is open until April 28th, and, “Jersey Crocs Rule!” which is open until September 8th. If you’re looking to learn more about some local NJ history, consider checking out the State Museum.

  4. 4. Princeton University Art Museum - Princeton, NJ

    Another University museum that is free to the public at all times is the Princeton University Art Museum. Open every day during the week except for Mondays, the full extent of this museum’s collections include ten different styles of art. These range from ancient, byzantine, and Islamic art to campus collections and photography, as well as modern and contemporary art. They also currently have three special exhibits. Both the photography collection, “Confronting Childhood” and the work of eighteenth-century European artist Thomas Gainsborough in, “Gainsborough’s Family Album” run until June 9th, while, “Miracles on the Border: Retablos of Mexican Migrants to the United States” showcases twentieth century artwork and notes with accompanying English translations and is open until July 7th. The wide range of types of art at the Princeton University Art Museum ensure that there is something for everyone to enjoy when they visit.

  5. 5. Zimmerli Art Museum - New Brunswick, NJ

    Did you know that we had a free art museum open to the public right here on campus? The Zimmerli Art Museum, located on the College Avenue campus at Rutgers in New Brunswick, is also open every day of the week, except for Mondays, and is free of cost to all visitors. As stated on their website, Zimmerli currently has more than 60,000 works of art at the museum. They have nine current exhibitions, including the, “Portraits of Paul Robeson” collection featuring the accomplished Rutgers alumni as a part of the University’s Paul Robeson Centennial Celebration that is open until April 28th, and the recently opened, “Stories of Wonder: Children’s Tales from Around the World” children’s book illustrations exhibit that is open until September 22nd. For students at Rutgers, the Zimmerli Art Museum will also be holding a Study All Night event on the two reading days (May 7th and May 8th) where students study in the museum for their final exams overnight - again, free of cost.

  6. 6. Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center - Philadelphia, PA

    While these are not ~technically~ museums as the others on this list are, Independence Hall in Philadelphia is where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed, definitely making the location a must-see for U.S. history buffs. Even though visitors are required to present tickets during the busier months of March through December in order to gain access, these tickets are free to purchase for all visitors. Just across the street from Independence Hall is the Liberty Bell Center, which as you probably guessed from the name is where the iconically cracked symbol of freedom is located. Admission to see the Liberty Bell is also free, but the center often draws a crowd due to its historical (and local) significance and low cost, so be prepared to wait in line for a decent length of time. Visitors are also kept at a distance from getting too close to the roped off Liberty Bell for security reasons, so don’t even try to pull a Barney Stinson if you’re thinking of visiting.

  7. 7. Rodin Museum - Philadelphia, PA

    Located in the grounds outside of The Philadelphia Museum of Art (which is only free every Wednesday evening from 5:30-8 pm and on the first Sunday of every month) on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Rodin Museum is an outdoor sculpture garden with an indoor museum that is inspired by the Musée Rodin in Paris, France. This is another museum where admission is technically free to all visitors, but there is a suggested donation. The garden is free, and the museum itself is pay what you wish for all visitors with a suggested price of $7 for students that is discounted from the $10 cost for adults. The entire museum features work from sculptor Auguste Rodin. For those over 21, the Rodin Museum also has a Garden Bar that is open in the afternoons until the museum closes at 8 pm.

While there are a handful of museums in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania that additionally are free of cost to students during specific hours of certain days throughout the month, each of these museums are consistently open for little or no cost. If you’re looking to travel a bit further than these metropolitan areas, you can also head down to Washington, D.C. where several of the museums on the National Mall are free for all visitors. Just don’t forget to bring your student I.D. card along with you wherever you go.

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