Seattle is a beautiful city to explore but it can also get expensive fast. If you’re a student, a parent with young children, or just on a tight budget, there are ways to immerse yourself in the city’s art and culture without spending any money. Most of Seattle’s museums offer free admission days every month. Check them out below!
Summary of upcoming free admission days (December 2022):
December 1 (first Thursday of every month):
- Seattle Art Museum
- National Nordic Museum
- Museum of Flight
- Northwest African American Museum
- Museum of History and Industry
- Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
- Henry Art Gallery (free admission every Sunday as well)
December 30 (last Friday of every month):
- Seattle Asian Art Museum
Daily free admission:
- Frye Art Museum
- Olympic Sculpture Park
- Center for Wooden Boats
- The Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center
- Klondike Gold Rush Museum
- Center on Contemporary Art
Additional free admission tips:
- You can use your Seattle library card or King County library card for free admission to many Seattle museums such as Museum of Pop Culture (as well as the zoo and the aquarium).
- Smithsonian Magazine hosts a free museum day every year on September 17. Mark your calendar now for next year!
- Many Seattle museums offer free admission for children; see details below.
Now, in no particular order, here’s all the museum details:
Seattle Art Museum (SAM), located downtown a block away from Pike Place Market, offers free admission on the first Thursday of every month as well as other discount access programs. Admission is always free for children age 14 and younger.
In the summer months, be sure to check out Summer at SAM. The museum hosts free outdoor events in Olympic Sculpture Park during July and August.
National Nordic Museum in Ballard offers free admission on the first Thursday of every month. It also participates in the Seattle Library Museum Pass program; use your library card for a free visit! You can visit to learn all about Nordic culture, heritage, history, and art.
The Museum of Flight offers free admission from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month. Children age four and younger are always admitted for free.
Northwest African American Museum typically offers free admission on the first Thursday of every month but is currently only doing pop-ups and virtual exhibitions and events. Follow their Instagram page (above) for updates.
The Museum of History and Industry in Lake Union Park offers free admission from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month but you must reserve your ticket in advance. Children age 14 and younger always have free admission. Visiting this museum is a great way to learn about the history of Seattle and the surrounding region!
Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture—located on the University of Washington campus—offers free admission on the first Thursday of every month. It also participates in the Museum for All program. Children age 3 and younger as well as UW students, staff and faculty always have free admission.
Henry Art Gallery operates on a suggested admission donation of $0 to $20. It also offers free admission on the first Thursday of every month as well as on every Sunday. Children, students, military personnel, and members of the University of Washington community always enjoy free admission. This contemporary art museum is located on the University of Washington campus. It also often has offsite exhibitions such as the free outdoors exhibition Chloë Bass: Soft Services currently located in Volunteer Park.
Frye Art Museum is always free! This contemporary art museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is located in First Hill. They also have a variety of ongoing programs at the museum that are free to participate in.
Olympic Sculpture Park is an outdoor sculpture museum located downtown that is always free. It is open daily 30 minutes after sunrise and closes 30 minutes before sunset.
This maritime museum is always free. It is open Wednesday through Sunday. Keep in mind that it is closed on Thanksgiving Day this month. You can also check out their free rowboat rental program.
This cultural center in West Seattle is open in a limited capacity with daily free admission. They are closed Sundays and Mondays.
Located at 319 2nd Ave S, this museum has a lot of interesting information about the 1890s Klondike gold rush in Seattle. It offers daily free admission for its self-guided exhibits.
This downtown art gallery is open to the public free of charge Thursdays through Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Seattle Asian Art Museum offers free admission for all on the last Friday of every month and children age 14 and under are always admitted for free. It is located in Volunteer Park in Capitol Hill. The hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) does not have any free admission days but participates in Museums for All, which allows free admission anytime if you present an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card from any state. MoPOP also participates in the free library pass program with the Seattle Public Library and the King County Library System, so that’s another great reason to get a library card! Children age 4 and younger always have free admission to MoPOP.