Last updated on August 16th, 2019
The Twin Cities is filled with all kinds of fun and exciting things to do, especially when it comes to museums. We have a world class collection that I haven’t seen elsewhere. Going to a museum shouldn’t break the bank. That’s why I love all the Free Museums in the Twin Cities. I’m not talking the smaller one. I’m talking large scale museums that are comparable to any big city. There are over 28 free museums. Ok, I know what you are thinking. Can there really be that many free museums in the Twin Cities.
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Everyday Free Museums in the Twin Cities
Minneapolis Institute of Art
The Minneapolis Institute of Art is always free, and is considered one of the best museums for the range of items. They have everything from Monet to Matisse, Asian to African, 40,000-year-old artifacts to world-
famous masterpieces. If you can only go to one museum, make sure you stop here. Avoid getting lost at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. They have something for everyone that will draw you to every corner. In addition to being a great museum, they also have a haunted side to the left me running from one room.
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
One of the most photographed museums in the Twin Cities is the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. It is open year round and located next to the Walker Art Center. The Minneapolis Sculpture garden brings in visitors from everywhere. They recently went through a major renovation and had a bunch of new installations. It’s like walking through a whole new park. Before you go, make sure to find out “What happened to the trees?” It will help explain why the changes were so significant.
Wells Fargo History Museum
The museum offers hands-on fun for the whole family. Located in downtown Minneapolis, The Wells Fargo History Museum has the authentic 1863 stagecoach, real gold codes and you can send coded messages via telegraph. The museums always free and you can even call ahead for free tours.
The American Museums of Asmat Art
The University of St. Thomas holds a collection of Asmat art. The Asmat people lived in southwest New Guinea. It currently is the most extensive collection in the country and has regularly changing exhibits.
The Minnesota State Capital
The Minnesota state capital also went through a major renovation. Theirs focuses more on updating and cleaning the artwork to bring it back to its original conditions. They offer free guided tours that will give you access to things you won’t see on the self-guided tours, including access to the golden horses on the top. Make sure to bring your camera, because this place will blow you away. Inside the Minnesota State Capitol Renovations. Tours held every day for free.
Located in Minnehaha Park, historic train depot is the first train station on the west bank of the Mississippi River. You can walk on the platform, explore the station. On Sunday from 1-5pm, Memorial Day-Labor Day, view exhibits about early railroad history. If you enjoy the history, also think about visiting one of our Historic Trains in Minnesota. These cost extra but are a lot of fun!
Como Zoo and Conservatory
The Como Zoo and Conservatory is open year round. They host a variety of different animals, garden, art, and family fun. The zoo has an amusement park on site that cost, but everything else is free. They ask for donations to help fund the park, but it’s a great way to explore and spend a day. Como Zoo | A Behind the Scene Look
Weisman Art Museum
The Weiseman Art Museums in a modern art gallery is owned and operated by the University of Minnesota. The outside of the museums is a work of art too. It was established in 1934 and prides itself on being a teaching museum. Its mission is to create art experiences that spark discovery. They offer Free Tours available on Saturdays and Sundays at 1.
The Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics
For those that like to look upward for their history, joining the Minnesota Institute of Astrophysics for some stargazing opportunities. Weather depended, the students and graduate students programs and presentation. They include public telescope viewing from the roof of the Tate Building, State Park programs or offering to create customized group events for different organizations.
NWA History Center
Minnesota’s hometown Airline could have gone to the wayside when it merged with Delta. Instead, they have their own history center. Telling the history of the airline and how it shaped the travel industry. See vintage stewardess outfits and model aircraft. Any airplane buff would have a great time. It’s always free to the public so enjoy!
Special Free Museums Days in the Twin Cities
Bell Museum of National History
Free on Sundays
The Bell Museum of National History inspires those curious about life to be part of the story through hands-on experiences with the University of Minnesota. Their museum includes a planetarium, wildlife dioramas that span space and time, a touch and see lab and a learning landscape.
Minnesota Children’s Museum
Third Sunday of the Month
The Minnesota Children’s Museum is a place where kids can learn and explore. The place is filled with all kinds of hands-on activities. I like to think of it as a giant playground where kids don’t know they are learning. Free Admission on the Third Sunday of the month for the St. Paul location only. Minnesota Children’s Museum | Powerful Play in Action
Walker Art Center
Free the first Saturday of the month; Thursdays after 5pm
The Walker Art Center focuses on the visual, performing and media arts of our time. It is located right next to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
Minnesota History Center
Minnesota History Center offers free admission to the museum exhibits each Tuesday night from 3 to 8 pm. While a big focus is on Minnesota, the history transcends to a more cultural focus. They tackle things like, Then And Now, Minnesota’s Greatest Generation and if these Walls Could Talk.
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Wander the paths and check out what’s in bloom at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. It’s a great place to take pictures and or get some fresh air. Every Thursday in the winter and the Third Monday from 4:30-8pm during the summer you can get in for free. Every time I go, I find a new trail to explore. MN Landscape Arboretum’s | Amazing Spaces Places and Escapes
Hennepin History Museum
Free the first Thursday of the Month
Located in St. Paul, the Hennepin History Museum has a wealth of different exhibits to explore. Some of my favorites are the rotating collection that comes through. They specialize in cultural aspects of history through Minnesota.
Other Ways to get Free Tickets to Museum in the Twin Cities
Libraries in the Twin Cities have partnered up with different cultural organizations to provide some great discounted and free tickets to a bunch more museums. They include:
American Swedish Institute
Bloomington Symphony Orchestra
Classica Actors Ensemble
Firefighters Hall and Museum
Hennepin History Museum
Minnesota Children’s Museum
Park Square Theatre
Pillsbury House and Theatre
Stages Theatre Company
Walking Shadow Theatre Company
The SMART Pass is available for those with Anoka County, Carver County, Dakota County, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Scott County, Washington County, and Saint Paul Public Library Cards. They limit the number of tickets in most cases to two per library card, one time a year. Check out their website for more details.
Smithsonian Museum Day
In honor of the Smithsonian, museums around the country are offering free Admission to participating museum. The Third Saturday in September, over 33 museums in Minnesota will be allowed free entry. You must reserve your ticket ahead of time. Check it out Smithsonian for more details.
Bank of America’s Museums on Us
Bank of America Credit or Debit Cardholders can visit more than 200 of the most popular cultural center’s worldwide for free, the first full weekend of every month. In the Twin Cities, that includes the Mill City Museum, Historic Fort Snelling, the James J Hill House and the Minnesota History Center.
Got a 6th Grader?
Minnesota 6th graders during the school year can get free admission to any MNHS site and museums. It’s good only for the 6th grader but still something to take advantage of for your family.
Other Discounted Deals
Half Priced Deals
If your museum isn’t on the list, check out Groupon. You can sometimes get half-price deals on places like the Museum of Russian Art and the Hennepin History Museum.
If you have any type of government assistance, you may qualify for discount admission to museums as well. Places like the Science Museum of Minnesota, Minnesota Zoo, Minnesota Children’s Museums, the Minnesota Historical Society Museums including the Mill City Museums. They have free admission and discounts as steep as $4 per person for those that qualify. Check out the Museum’s website for more details.
What’s your Favorite?
Now’s your chance to share, what is your favorite free museum in Minneapolis? I think mine is probably either the Minneapolis Institute of Art or the Children’s Museum in St. Paul. Post your favorite in the comments and tell us why. I would love to hear about your experiences!