By: Lori Vajda
Having fun in Miami doesn’t require a lot of money. In fact, there is a lot to experience in this great city for free, and who doesn’t love to get something for free? As host to many of the world’s most unbelievable artifacts, rare artwork, and rich history and architecture, Miami museums offer visitors and locals an unforgettable experience. Whether you're planning a family trip or just exploring the historic, scenic and cultural spots right in your own backyard, we've got you covered!
Here’s a list of free museums to feed your mind and nourish your soul.
The MDC Museum & Galleries of Art + Design
Located in the heart of Downtown Miami, on Miami Dade College's downtown campus you’ll find The MDC Museum & Galleries of Art + Design. With more than 15,000 square-feet of space, this museum is one of the largest and most diverse institutions in the country dedicated to the visual arts. Visitors will find an impressive collection of work by emerging artists, as well as major figures in modern, post-modern and contemporary art. Concerts, lectures, and events are free and open to the public.
The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum
Located on the University Park campus of Florida International University, the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum was design by architect Yann Weymouth, and is considered a masterpiece of contemporary architecture. This state-of-the-art building uses its natural light to showcase paintings. Visitors can stroll through the museum’s various galleries and view innovative exhibitions ranging from regionally unique to nationally recognized programs. Outstanding lectures are also on offer.
Bay of Pigs Museum
For the history buff, Bay of Pigs Museum offers a small collection of memorabilia relaying the history of Brigade 2506's failed 1961 invasion of Cuba. One notable exhibit is a Brigade 2506 flag held up by President John F. Kennedy during a speech he made at the Orange Bowl in 1962.
FREE ON SELECT DAYS
Bass Museum of Art
Free Day: The last Sunday of each month, 12 – 5 p.m.
IDEA@thebass is free for children and adults the last Sunday of each month, 2 to 4 p.m.
In the heart of the historic Art Deco District, Bass Museum of Art offers an expansive view at distinguished art. From its permanent collection (European Old Masters, 18th-century English portraits, sculptures, Chinese woodblock prints, and more), to hosting world-class travelling exhibitions, lectures, workshops and a wonderful gift shop, it offers something for everyone. IDEA@thebass activities include art projects, scavenger hunts and prizes. Admission is always free for children under 6 years of age.
Please note: The Bass Museum of Art galleries is temporarily closed for renovation. Reopening is planned for Fall 2016. Beginning in September 2015, the museum will launch a series of exhibitions, events and programs called bassX in the Miami Beach Regional Library, which is directly across the street from the museum at 227 22nd Street, Miami Beach.
Gold Coast Railroad Museum
Free Day: The first Saturday of each month except in March when the museum hosts the popular Day out with Thomas.
A must-see museum for any train enthusiast, you’ll find plenty of trains to explore at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum. This model train exhibit includes various scales, and for the younger kids, numerous Thomas the Tank Engine tables for interactive play. You’ll find rare collection pieces including “Ferdinand Magellan,” the private railroad car built for President Franklin Roosevelt, and the Florida East Coast Railway locomotive #153. This unique museum is always free for children under two.
HistoryMiami (formerly the Historical Museum of Southern Florida)
Free Day: The second Saturday of each month.
A cultural institution, and Smithsonian Institute Affiliate Program, this museum is committed to gathering, preserving and celebrating Miami’s unique history. Family Fun Days, which are the second Saturday of each month, offer all children and adults the opportunity to learn and experience something new and fun. Children under the age of six are always free, as are veterans between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Jewish Museum of Florida
Free Day: Every Saturday.
The Jewish Museum of Florida is housed lovingly in two restored buildings that once served as synagogues for Miami Beach’s first congregation. Located on South Beach’s "South of Fifth" neighborhood, the museum features 80 stained glass windows, Deco chandeliers and a Moorish copper dome. Temporary exhibits change throughout the year in both buildings, but the main exhibit, MOSAIC: Jewish life in Florida, 1763 to present, is a staple of the museum. Children under the age of six are always free.
Lowe Art Museum
Free Day: Donation Day, the first Tuesday of each month. A free gallery tour takes place at 1 p.m.
Located in Coral Gables on the beautiful University of Miami campus, this is considered Miami’s oldest art museum. Featuring a variety of permanent works of art as well as temporary exhibits, it is the only area museum with a notable collection of Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities. This museum is always free for children under 12 years old.
Miami Children’s Museum
Free Day: Free the third Friday of each month from 3 - 9 p.m.
Visitors of all ages will love the interactive and bilingual activities and crafts throughout the museum. Engaging exhibits encourage learning through play. On the first floor, kids have the opportunity to explore a bank, supermarket, health and wellness center, veterinary clinic, and television studio – all sized for them. Upstairs, children of all ages can make art and music, board a life size cruise ship, climb through a two-story sandcastle, and so much more. The museum is always free for infants under one year old.
Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA)
Known for seeking a fresh and sometimes provocative approach in examining art, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is internationally recognized and respected for its ability to define new trends and directions in contemporary art. MOCA presents up to ten exhibitions each year offering an exciting and ever-changing blend of both emerging and established artists. MOCA is always free for children under the age of 12, North Miami residents, city employees and veterans.
Miami Science Museum
Free Day: The observatory is free the first Friday of each month 8:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Originally built in 1949, the Miami Science Museum is a Smithsonian Institute Affiliate. The museum features national traveling exhibits, and visitors can see live science demonstrations and theater shows daily. While there, don’t miss the wildlife center where you’ll see rare and exotic birds and the Miami Planetarium, home to the Weintraub Observatory's two powerful telescopes. You’ll marvel at the Milky Way and gaze at far-off galaxies during the observatory’s free monthly star show. Miami Science Museum is always free for infants 2 years of age and under.
Wolfsonian-FIU Art Museum
Free Day: Every Friday after 6:00 p.m.
This internationally known art museum is located in a 1926 Mediterranean revival-style warehouse in the heart of Miami’s historic art district. Visitors with a love for art won’t be disappointed by the magnificent exhibits, paintings, ceramics, posters, books, furniture, and architectural creations from the modern era. Be sure to visit the museum gift shop and café located on the grounds. Peruse the selection of unconventional gifts, books and films inspired by the museum's collection. Children under the age of six are always free.
Dates are subject to change and may not include fees to view special exhibits. Visit individual museum websites for admission details, as well as policies for specific community members, such as military personnel and local school groups.
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