Here’s an awesome, frugal offer that should not be missed: Each year Smithsonian Magazine coordinates a nationwide free museum day. This year’s get-into-museums-gratis event falls on Saturday, Sept. 23. On Museum Day Live! (as the Smithsonian calls the day of free admission), participating museums provide entry (for two!) to anyone presenting a ticket, downloaded from the website.
The folks at Smithsonian Magazine have dubbed this effort “America’s Annual Celebration of Boundless Curiosity.” How can you resist THAT?
Very Important Detail: You must visit the website and register by midnight on Sept. 20 to take advantage of this offer!
Portland-Area Museums Offering Free Admission on Sept. 23
A half-dozen museums in the Portland area are participating, including:
Oregon Historical Society. Multnomah County residents enjoy free admission year round at this information-filled destination. On Sept. 23, EVERYONE (with the necessary ticket) will receive free access.
Portland Art Museum. Admission is now $19.99 for adults so this is a great time to immerse yourself in the museum’s permanent and traveling exhibits. (For those 17 and younger, the museum is always free.) Check out the current exhibits at this link.
Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum. If you haven’t been to this McMinnville site yet, this is the day to do it. Reason Number One: Normal admission is a very steep $27 per adult. Reason Number Two: You’ll get to see the world famous Spruce Goose – Howard Hughes’ legendary all-wood airplane that has the largest wingspan of any aircraft ever flown. And that alone makes the trek to McMinnville absolutely worthwhile.
Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center. The Nikkei Center chronicles Japanese American history in Oregon, including the many contributions of Japanese Americans and our government’s brutal treatment of them during World War II.
Zimmerman House Museum & Gardens (Gresham) and Heslin House Museum (Fairview). Both of these east county historical destinations offer free admission on Sept. 23.
You must go to the Museum Day Live website before midnight on Sept. 20, and follow the instructions to receive your free passes. Your Museum Day Live! ticket provides admission for two people. If you want to visit more than one museum, use a different email address to request additional tickets (it’s absolutely kosher to do this).
For more information visit their FAQs page.
Free Museums Every Day
If you miss out on the Smithsonian’s Free Museum Day this Saturday – or the selection doesn’t float your museum boat – consider these local museums and galleries that are ALWAYS free:
Free and Discount Days
Many museums in the area also have regular free or discounted admission days. Here are some possibilities:
OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). This perennially popular destination charges only $2 on the first Sunday of every month. Expect crowds.
Portland Art Museum. Another spot to expect crowds is the Art Museum’s free night, on the first Thursday of every month.
Portland Children’s Museum. Got kids? The Children’s Museum welcomes you free of charge on the first Friday of every month (4 to 8 p.m.).
World Forestry Center Discovery Museum. Admission is only $3 on the first Thursday of each month.
It’s no coincidence that Museum Day Live! takes place at the beginning of fall. When the days turn gray and rainy, a visit to an indoor attraction becomes mighty appealing. You’ll stay dry and learn A LOT in the process.
Marie Sherlock is an award-winning, Portland-based travel writer. Follow her on twitter @SherlockTravels.