When and which museums are free
Everyone knows you can catch a big concert in Austin, but it’s also a city where you can spot a painting by Frida Kahlo, the elegant sculptures by Elisabet Ney, and the genre work of up-and-coming contemporary artists.
Austin is home to an incredible array of museums, many of which can be visited without spending a dime. Here’s a guide to some of Austin’s notable museums, and when you can visit them for free. Holidays can affect hours; check individual websites before you go.
Blanton Art Museum
200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
With a sprawling permanent collection that features works by Mexican muralists Diego Rivera and JosÃ© Clemente Orozco, an eclectic mix of contemporary rotating exhibitions and access to Ellsworth Kelly’s immersive installation “Austin”, visiting the Blanton Museum well worth its usual $ 12 entree. But if you’re looking to avoid the fees, you can visit the Blanton on a Thursday. Every Thursday, the University of Texas Museum waives its admission fee. See you soon to see Luis JimÃ©nez’s wild sculptures or an exhibition on 60s pop art.
Contemporary Austin Jones Center
700, avenue du CongrÃ¨s.
the Jones Center, the contemporary downtown Austin campus, is hard to miss. It’s because of Jim Hodges’ âWith Freedom and Justice for All (a work in progress)â, a sculpture of colorful capital letters that spell out the famous phrase, which is positioned to be visible from the street. Inside, the Jones Center has two exhibition floors filled with equally eye-catching modern art, as well as a rooftop with stunning views. You can see everything for free every Thursday, when the museum waives admission and stays open until later, until 9 p.m.
Contemporary Austin Laguna Gloria
3809 West 35th St.
If you haven’t had enough contemporary art at Jones Center, more awaits you at Laguna Gloria, Austin’s contemporary waterfront campus. Laguna Gloria Park is home to the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park, an exciting collection of sculptures by modern artists. The museum’s large sculptures mimic everything from tree trunks to old cars. Check them out on a Thursday, when Contemporary Austin waives field admission.
419 avenue du CongrÃ¨s.
Since 1984, the Mexic-Arte Museum brought cutting-edge art from Mexican, Latino and Latin American artists to downtown Austin. Currently, the museum houses âMX 21-Resistance, Reaffirmation & Resilienceâ, an exhibition dedicated to the history, culture and future of Mexico. With works by artists such as Delilah Montoya and Sergio Sanchez Santamaria, the exhibition explores the perseverance of the indigenous peoples of Mexico and the presence of Mexican culture in the United States. If you visit the Mexic-Arte Museum on a Sunday, you can access the exhibition for free.
Women and their work
1311 E. Cesar Chavez St.
A peer-reviewed data analysis of 2018 found that in 18 major US art museums, collections were 87% male and 85% white. Women and their work, a gallery located in East Austin, has been trying to challenge this reality since 1978. The gallery specializes in presenting art created by women, especially women living and working in Texas. Currently, Women and Their Work hosts “Pattern Language” by Rehab El Sadek, an artist of Egyptian origin who has lived and worked in Austin, among other places in the world. You can see “Pattern Language” – and all of the other Women and Their Work exhibits – for free. Donations are accepted.
George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogical Center
1165 Angelina Street
the George Washington Carver Museum started out as a library. It was built in 1926 on the corner of Ninth and Guadalupe streets, then moved to East Austin in 1933 after black residents asked the city for a library in their neighborhood. Thus, it became known as the “colored branch” of the Austin library system before being renamed in 1947 in honor of the inventor and scientist George Washington Carver. Today, the building serves as a museum honoring the cultural contributions of black Americans. The museum is free and currently hosts an exhibition with work from the inaugural cohort of the Small Black Museum Residency Project.
Elisabet Ney Museum
304 E. 44th St.
At the end of the 19th century, the sculptor Elisabet ney left his studio in Berlin and moved to Austin. Today you can visit the Hyde Park house she occupied. Inside you’ll find the world’s largest collection of works by Ney, which includes busts and statues of iconic rulers. Until January 9, the museum is also hosting an exhibition of photographs by Marie Ely, a contemporary artist born and raised in Texas. Entrance to the Elisabet Ney Museum is free.
Harry Ransom Center
300 W. 21st St.
Viewing a painting by Frida Kahlo for free is not something to be taken for granted. So if you haven’t visited the Harry Ransom Center yet, what are you waiting for? The museum’s archives include Kahlo’s “Self-Portrait with Necklace of Thorns and Hummingbird”, as well as paintings by literary figures such as Tennessee Williams and Anne Sexton. You can still visit the Harry Ransom Center, which is part of the University of Texas at Austin, for free.
Austin Nature and Science Center
2389 Stratford Drive
Upgrade your next trip to Zilker Park by visiting the Austin Nature and Science Center. Located at the western end of Zilker, the center offers Austinites interactive and educational nature exhibits, teaching the public everything from sundials to prehistoric creatures. The centre’s wildlife exhibits spotlight animals native to central Texas, and a tree trail provides a place to shade while learning about native Austin flora. Admission to the Austin Nature and Science Center is always free.