I recently learned that once a year there is free museum day in Los Angeles! (This year it was January 15, 2015.) Tons of museums participate.
It’s a pretty cool idea, huh? To get people out and about to museums they might not otherwise go to. (I’m curious if the museums end up making even more money on the free day, but I’ll hypothesize about that later.)
For now, I’m here to give you the tips on if you do free museum day yourself!
1) Take public transportation
Parking in the parking structure by LACMA was so ridiculous (not that you would’ve had any better luck with street parking). We made it in, sure. There is a lot of room. But, we waited for around 20-minutes in what seemed like a never-ending line of cars crawling along the road.
I didn’t care that much. I was with one of my friends and we were jamming out to oldies. However, my word to the wise is just take the bus. A lot of museums are so easily accessible on public transportation. So use it.
2) Pick the museums that don’t have other free options!
LACMA was very cool and big, and I’m glad I got to go. But, it is already open to residents of Los Angeles Mondays – Fridays after 3pm, and it’s free to everyone on the second Tuesday of each month. So, this was kind of a waste in the sense that there were other museums (such as the one for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, showing the Hollywood Costume exhibit) that didn’t have free days listed! Aye, aye, aye.
But, we also went to the Page Museum while we were in Museum row. I didn’t see any other free days for that. So, at least we did something right! We did try to go to the Hollywood Costume exhibit somewhat early in the day. But, tons of people had already gotten timed tickets.
So, I guess if you are smart enough to pick one of the museums to which you can’t otherwise get free admission, there may be a bunch of other smart people on your wavelength. You should perhaps consider seeing if you can book those free tickets ahead of time (as people in the Costume line said they did).
3) Maybe use the morning to your advantage (strategize, perhaps)
We arrived at LACMA approximately an hour after it opened and only had to wait in a very short line to get our tickets. I don’t know if there was perhaps an early morning rush right as the museum opened. But I do know that later in the afternoon, the line looked crazy. We went to the Page Museum in the afternoon after LACMA, and the line was crazy there. So, apparently there’s a rush later as either more people make their way up and out of the house, or maybe as they go to their second stop.
So, if you’re going to multiple museums that are close to each other, you might want to get your tickets/stickers/wristbands (whatever they’re using) before you go into any museum. That way you don’t have to worry about spending time in long lines later.
4) Bring single bills if you want to donate (and maybe cash in general)
The museums will ask if you’d like to donate a dollar for entry. You’re obviously free to donate more or nothing at all. But if you think you might like to donate a dollar, think about bringing singles as it’ll make it easier than getting change (as you want to keep those long lines moving).
Also, if you go to Museum Row, there will be food trucks everywhere. Many of them take credit cards. But think about bringing cash if you want, to make things easier.
That’s everything I can think of when it comes to free museum day… If you have more advice (or if you have questions), please give ’em to me in the comments. And now that I’ve given my tips, I’ll talk more about the day soon!