Whether you’re a Boston local, a tourist, or somebody who’s planning on moving to Boston, the sheer volume of attractions, restaurants, museums, and general things to see and do around this iconic American city can be nothing short of overwhelming. Even if you do decide on which attractions to visit, those costs can add up fast, especially in a city as pricey as Boston! Nowhere is that more true than Boston’s many museums, which, while certainly fantastic places to visit, usually have costly admission fees.
Luckily for those looking to explore Boston’s history, arts, and sciences on a budget, there’s plenty of cool museums with free admission, whether they be on certain days, to certain qualifying members of the public, or all the time! Let us walk you through some of your best options, and what you need to do to get in without spending a dime!
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston | A Collection of the Finest Art from All Over The World
It would not be exaggeration to call the Museum of Fine Arts (often shortened to “MFA”) one the best museums in Boston, if not the United States. This immense museum has wings that hold hundreds of exhibits, literally, on all sorts of artistic subject matter. While visiting this establishment, you can find exhibits on Ancient Egyptian art, Islamic art, contemporary art, as well as lectures and demonstrations.
Not only does this immense museum hold hundreds of exhibits, but it even has its own restaurants and shops contained within, as well as a plethora of other amenities. There’s a reason the MFA of Boston gets so many repeat visitors! It is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
Now, the Museum of Fine Arts is not typically free. Typical admission prices for adults is $27, and for children aged 7 to 17, the price is $10. However, very young children get free admission, and so do members of the MFA program (although this requires a subscription). The main thing to look out for if you’re planning to visit the MFA on a budget or entirely for free is special events, which occur often here. For instance, local students will be let in free of charge, and certain events reduce admission to certain exhibits to incredibly low prices, or outright cost-free. Be sure to keep an eye on that event calendar!
Museum of Fine Arts Hours & Location
465 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115, (617) 267-9300
Hours: 10 am to 5 pm, $27 for adults, $10 for children, free admission during special events
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Boston Fire Museum | Documenting Boston’s History of Firefighting and Public Safety
Set in Boston’s second oldest firehouse, built in 1892, the Boston Fire Museum is an interesting look into the history of fires in Boston, and how people in the past dealt with them. From vintage firefighting vehicles and gear, to documentary material on major fires in the Boston area, you’ll be surprised at just how in-depth this museum goes. If you’ve got a little one who’s obsessed with fire trucks, or are yourself interested in public safety and its evolution, this museum is sure to be a treat!
But, perhaps the best part about the Boston Fire Museum is that admission is totally free! Relying on donations and volunteers, you won’t pay a single cent to be admitted to the Boston Fire Museum.
Boston Fire Museum Hours & Location
344 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210, (617) 338-9700
Hours: 11 AM to 4 PM, Free
U.S.S. Constitution Museum | Explore an Important Part of America’s Revolutionary History
Owned and operated by the US Navy, the U.S.S. Constitution museum in Boston offers a look at one of the oldest American ships still in existence. Launched only a scant decade or so after America gained her independence, the U.S.S. Constitution served with distinction in the War of 1812, defeating many British ships and earning the nickname “Old Ironsides”. Retired from active service 70 years after the war, she was to be scrapped, but public adoration of the ship kept her in one piece. Today, she serves as a sailing monument to the American navy’s history.
The museum itself allows you to explore interactive educational exhibits about the U.S.S. Constitution’s history, and also allows you to enter the U.S.S. Constitution itself. The best part about all of this is that it’s 100% free! While the museum urges visitors to make donations, the museum is operated by the Navy and thus does not charge anybody for admission
U.S.S. Constitution Museum Hours & Location
Building 22, Charlestown Navy Yard, Charlestown, MA 02129, (617) 426-1812
Hours: 9 AM to 6 PM, Free
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Ancient & Honorable Artillery Company Museum | The Oldest Chartered Military Organization in America
Chartered in 1638 by Governor John Winthrop at the eve of English settlement, the Ancient & Honorable Artillery Company has the claim to fame of being the oldest still extant chartered military organization in the entirety of America. Now headquartered at the Faneuil Hall, the Ancient & Honorable Artillery Company has a museum on America’s famous “Freedom Trail”, showcasing firearms, swords, uniforms, artillery pieces, and more from America’s 300 year military history.
And, as you might expect, the Ancient & Honorable Artillery Company is totally free! If you or a loved one are a military history buff, or you’re just interested in this part of America’s history, it literally costs nothing to check this fantastic educational center out!
Ancient & Honorable Artillery Company Museum Hours & Location
4 Faneuil Hall, Boston, MA 02109, (617) 227-1638
Hours: 9 AM to 3:30 PM, Free every weekday
Metropolitan Waterworks Museum | A Fascinating Look into Boston’s Water Infrastructure Throughout History
Infrastructure, particularly water infrastructure, aren’t often the subject matter of museums. Who wants to see a bunch of pipes, right? If you think that’s all Boston’s waterworks are, you’re in for a surprise! While certainly niche, the Metropolitan Waterworks Museum provides a fascinating look into the inner workings of Boston’s waterworks in the past, with the main centerpiece being a series of immense steam engines that used to power Boston’s water infrastructure, which are truly impressive to behold. The Waterworks Museum also contains educational exhibits on Boston’s fire department throughout the years, in case the Boston Fire Museum wasn’t enough for you!
As you might’ve guessed owing to its position in this blog, admission to the Metropolitan Waterworks Museum is totally free, allowing walk-in guests during the weekdays. See this interesting slice of Boston history for yourself!
Metropolitan Waterworks Museum Hours & Location
2450 Beacon St, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, (617) 277-0065
Hours: 11 AM to 4 PM, Free
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Bunker Hill Museum | A Museum on One of America’s Most Important Battles
Fought in 1775, the Battle of Bunker Hill was a bitter struggle between the colonial rebels who would become the founders of the United States and the British Empire. The line battle on Bunker Hill and Breed’s Hill would leave thousands dead, with the colonial rebels killing double the amount of British than colonials who died to British shot and bayonet. The day would be a loss for the colonials – but proof that the colonials could beat the British if properly supplied.
Topped by the immense obelisk which was erected in remembrance of the dead of the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Bunker Hill Museum is an open-air series of exhibits that cover what was once a collection of hilly pastures where this incredibly important Revolutionary War battle took place. See the monument itself and climb to the top, see the Bunker Hill Lodge and important sites in the battle, and visit preserved artifacts from the era.
The Bunker Hill Museum is funded by the federal government, and that means that admission for the public is totally free! However, the Bunker Hill Museum does have occupancy limits, particularly for the monument itself, so be aware that you might have to wait to see some of the exhibits.
Bunker Hill Museum Hours & Location
43 Monument Sq, Charlestown, MA 02129, (617) 242-7275
Hours: Occupancy dependent, Free
Map of Museums in Boston
Want to know the location of all the best free museums in Boston? Check out this map below:
Free or not, Boston is heaven for museum loves of all types! If you want to see a certain type of museum on a certain topic, chances are it’ll be in this city! If you’re a Boston resident, you likely know that already. However, if you’re a prospective resident planning to move to Boston, you’ll need a top-rated Boston moving company for the job! Luckily for you, you’ve come to the right place – call Mass Bay Movers at 978-587-3775 for a quick, easy, and simple move with a great crew.