All conditions listed below are subject to change. Check with the Toronto Public Library for the most up-to-date information.
As most tourists know, there are just too many cultural and historical museums here in Toronto to take in during one visit to the city. Yet many who live in Toronto -- who should have ample opportunities to see and do it all -- don't always end up taking advantage of our city's many museums and historic sites. Sometimes it's just due to a lack of interest or time, but for some there's also the financial concern of fitting in admission fees on a limited budget. Wouldn't it be nice if there was some kind of free Toronto museum pass available just for local residents? There's a simple solution for you, courtesy of the Toronto Public Library.
Looking to save money on Toronto cultural attractions? Enter the Sun Life Financial Museum and Arts Pass (MAP). Available from every Toronto Public Library branch in the city, these passes, which offer free admission to one of over a dozen local museums, can be signed out by anyone with an adult Toronto Public Library card. The conditions vary depending on which museum you'd like to visit, but in general the pass is good for two adults and up to five children.
There are a limited number of passes available from each branch each week, and they are given out on a first-come, first-served basis. Most branches begin signing out the week's allotment on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. with some exceptions.
If you are early enough to get one of the passes, note that you can only use it once and then you'll surrender it at the venue to gain admission (so you have to pick one museum from the list, not make a day of museum-hopping). You can only sign out one pass per week, and you can only get one pass for each venue about once every three months.
So Where Can Your Toronto Museum Pass Take You?
The following museums and attractions are currently part of the Sun Life Financial Museum and Arts Pass program: The Art Gallery of Ontario, The Textile Museum of Canada and all 8 of the City of Toronto's Historic Museums.
There are also a limited number of passes available to Bata Shoe Museum, Aga Khan Museum, Black Creek Pioneer Village, Gardiner Museum, Ontario Science Centre, Royal Ontario Museum and the Toronto Zoo.
Of course there are some restrictions on when you can use the passes (not during March Break, for example) and the age and number of children who will get free admission varies with each institution. Visit your local branch or the Sun Life MAP page on the Toronto Public Library's website for full details and conditions of borrowing - then get out to a museum - for free.
Other MAP Perks
It's also good to note that on Saturdays in May, October and November, Toronto's MAP attractions offer crafts, games, and activities at library branches across the city. Programs on offer usually last an hour and are ideal for children ages 5 to 12 and their parents or caregivers.
And theatre lovers will want to take advantage of the MAP Performing Arts Pass, which gives you access to Toronto's best dance, music, film, theatre and more for free from several branches of the Toronto Public Library. Venues include Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Factory Theatre, Canadian Stage, TIFF Bell Lightbox and more.
Updated by Jessica Padykula