It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to keep up with the latest art shows and museum exhibits here in Boston.
We’ve done the research for you, rounding up local museums and galleries that host free events every month.
If you’re not available on these days for these events, it’s not a problem. You can get free passes to institutions around the city through the Boston Public Library, and most university galleries offer free admission year-round.
What: First Friday
On the first Friday of each month, the galleries on Thayer Street in the SoWa arts district host opening receptions for their latest exhibits. The area comes alive with music, wine and appetizers. Often, contemporary artists whose work is being displayed attend these openings to meet patrons and talk about their processes. First Friday is a great way to see avant-garde artists that you won’t — yet — find on museum walls. As a bonus, the SoWa Vintage Market, located beneath the gallery buildings, often opens for the celebration.
Valid: 5–9 p.m.
530 Harrison Ave., Boston
Limited street parking, Washington St at Berkeley St stop on the SL5
What: MFA Free Wednesdays
Every Wednesday after 4 p.m. the Museum of Fine Arts offers free admission. Through February 24, you can check out an extensive exhibition of Ansel Adams’ landscape photographs. In the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art, take in the work of three female artists, Rineke Dijkstra, Nan Goldin and Sheila Hicks. And, of course, there’s the museum’s impressive permanent collection of art from all over the world, including blockbusters like Frida Kahlo and Claude Monet, as well as one of the highest quality collections of Japanese artwork outside of Japan itself.
Valid: 4–10 p.m.
465 Huntington Ave., Boston
Limited street parking, Museum of Fine Arts T stop
What: ICA Free Thursdays
Every Thursday after 5 p.m. the Institute of Contemporary Art opens free to the public. The current interactive installation “William Forsythe: Choreographic Objects” makes for a fun date night. In addition to the floor of current installations, the ICA also frequently screens films and hosts live performances and lectures. When the weather gets nicer the ICA also hosts free outdoor concerts on Thursday nights, overlooking Boston Harbor. Be sure to check the schedule before planning your visit.
Valid: 5–9 p.m.
25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston
Limited street parking, Court House T stop
What: TJX Fridays at Boston Children’s Museum
Boston’s culture scene hasn’t forgotten families. Friday night at the Boston Children’s Museum only costs $1 per person for entrance. Kids can create hands-on artwork, work on simulated construction projects, learn about different ethnic groups and watch performances on kid-sized KidStage (performances run 15-20 minutes). All winter long, the museum offers a range of seasonal activities like sock ice-skating, family yoga, hockey and hot chocolate.
Boston Children’s Museum
Valid: 5–9 p.m.
$1 per person
308 Congress St., Boston
Limited street parking, South Station T stop
What: Harvard Art Museums Free Saturdays
Turns out you can feel like a Harvard student without paying an Ivy League tuition. Every Saturday morning, Harvard Art Museums hosts free admission for Massachusetts residents, and Cambridge residents get free admission year round. Current exhibitions include, “Clay—Modeling African Design” displaying ceramic arts from the African continent.
Harvard Art Museums
Valid: 10 a.m–12 p.m.
Free for Massachusetts residents Saturdays 10 a.m.–12 p.m.
Limited street parking, Harvard T stop