5 Ways to Visit Ann Arbor Museums for Free

Are you looking for Free Ann Arbor Museums? We found 5 ways to visit Ann Arbor Museums for Free. Check out always free museums, special free days, and other ways to get free tickets. We also have suggestions for visiting museums for free beyond the Ann Arbor area.

Free Ann Arbor Museums

1 – Free Ann Arbor Museums

Here in Ann Arbor we have several great museums that offer FREE admission. Instead, they recommend a donation. The best free admission museums are on campus at the University of Michigan.


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University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History reopened in their new building in March 2019. Later in 2019, additional exhibits will open. Additionally, the museum offers free tours and talks. However, there is a fee for planetarium shows.

Visit Mastodon at UM Museum of Natural History - a Free Ann Arbor Museum

Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

My daughter has always loved the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. Stop in and see their child mummy and other Egyptian artifacts. Watch for their story times, family days, and kid-friendly tours.

Ann Arbor Kelsey Museum of Archaeology - Looking at Masks - a Free Ann Arbor Museum

University of Michigan Museum of Art

Stop in at the University of Michigan Museum of Art and browse the galleries with your kids. They also offer storytimes and family art workshops. The family art workshops reach capacity, so register early!


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Matthaei Botanical Gardens

The University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens have free admission. Visit the Conservatory. Play at the outdoor Children’s Garden. Then, walk through the outdoor grounds.

Matthaei Botanical Garden - Conservatory - Kaleidoscope
Matthaei Botanical Gardens: Kaleidoscope in Conservatory

While admission is free, there is an hourly parking charge at Matthaei Botanical Gardens

2 – Free Museum Admission Days

A number of museums offer free admission days throughout the year. There are national free museum programs like Smithsonian Museum Day and Bank of America’s Museum on Us. Also, individual museums offer free admission days.

Smithsonian Museum Day

For 2019, the Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day is September 21. You can request 2 free tickets to participating museums.

Check out the included museums near Ann Arbor:

  • Yankee Air Museum, Belleville
  • Michigan Science Center, Detroit
  • Detroit Historical Museum, Detroit
  • Arab American National Museum, Dearborn
  • National Museum of the Great Lakes, Toledo
  • Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo
Yankee Air Museum - Riveting with Rosie - Learn how to visit for Free
Yankee Air Museum: Testing Riveting Skills with Rosie

Bank of America Museums on Us

Bank of America offers Museums on Us as a benefit for their cardholders. Each cardholder receives two free admissions to select museums on the first full weekend of each month.

If you have a Bank of America Card, check out one of the local participating museums:

  • Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn
  • Arab American National Museum, Dearborn
  • Michigan Science Center, Detroit
  • Motown Museum, Detroit
  • Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
  • Motown Museum, Detroit
Henry Ford Museum Reagan Presidential Limo
Henry Ford Museum: Reagan’s Presidential Limousine

Other Free Museum Days near Ann Arbor

Some local museums periodically offer free admission. Henry Ford Museum and Michigan Science Center have regular free days. Henry Ford Museum often offers free admission on Martin Luther King Jr Day and other federal holidays. Michigan Science Center offered free admission in summer 2019.

Upcoming Free Museum days are:

No Events

3 – Michigan Activity Pass

Many Michigan libraries offer the Michigan Activity Pass (MAP). It provides free or discounted admission to locations throughout the state. The Ann Arbor District Library offers passes through each branch. If the branch you selected first is not available, check another branch.

Local Museums participating in Michigan Activity Pass:

Michigan Firehouse Museum - Exploring Firetrucks - Learn how to get free admission
Michigan Firehouse Museum: Exploring Firetrucks

My daughter and I used the MAP for free admission to the Yankee Air Museum in 2018. It was a very easy process. The day before our trip, I requested our tickets online. There was a limit of one ticket per library card. First, I requested one ticket with my account. Then, I switched to my daughter’s card to request a second ticket.


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4 – Museum Memberships

Join a Local Museum

Visit your favorite local museum for free all year by buying a membership. We have had memberships to Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum (AAHOM), Toledo Zoo, and Henry Ford Museum.

Did you know that the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum membership includes admission for grandparents? Henry Ford Museum includes admission to Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.

AAHOM - Second Floor - Bubble Cage
Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum: In the Bubble Tube

Reciprocal Membership Perks

Even better, many of your museums had an added benefit – reciprocal membership. With reciprocal membership, visit museums across the country (and beyond) for free or discounted admission.

Over the years we have used our AAHOM membership through the ASTC reciprocal program in:

  • Grand Rapids – Grand Rapids Public Museum
  • Chicago
    • Field Museum
    • Museum of Science & Industry
    • Adler Planetarium
  • New Mexico
    • Albuquerque
      • Explora, a Children’s Museum
      • New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
      • National Museum of Nuclear Science & History
    • Los Alamos – Bradbury Science Museum
  • Pennsylvania
    • Philadelphia
      • Franklin Institute
      • Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
    • Reading
      • Reading Public Museum
  • Delaware – Hagley Museum, Wilmington
  • New York –
    • New York City – Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum
  • Toronto – Ontario Science Center
Chicago Trip - Field Museum - Sue the Dinosaur
Chicago Field Museum

For ASTC, free admission is restricted to museums more than 90 miles from both your home and the museum that you belong to. However, many museums inside that radius offer discounts.


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Over the years we have received discounts at Imagination Station (Toledo), Michigan Science Center (Detroit), and Impression 5 (Lansing).

Imagination Station - Wednesday Activity Review

Reciprocal Membership Benefits in Ann Arbor

If you are visiting Ann Arbor, use your museum benefits at Ann Arbor Museums.

  • ASTC (Science Museums)
    • Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum, Ann Arbor
    • Yankee Air Museum, Belleville
    • Michigan Science Center, Detroit
  • ACM (Children’s Museums)
    • Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
  • AZA (Zoos)
    • Detroit Zoo – Royal Oak
    • Toledo Zoo – Toledo, OH

5 – Beyond Ann Arbor

Check out these free museum options from my friends across the country.

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Anna Mae
Anna Mae owns & operates Ann Arbor with Kids, a website dedicated to Family Activities in Ann Arbor. My husband and I moved to Ann Arbor in 2003 and our daughter joined the family in 2006.
Anna Mae

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