Free Museum Days in Seattle and Tacoma

How to enjoy area museums on the cheap

Seattle Art Museum
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The Seattle-Tacoma area is filled to the brim with museums, but unlike the renowned museums in Washington D.C., most of Seattle’s museums have an admission fee. However, this doesn’t mean the only way to visit is to shell out admission, which can get steep if you want to bring the kids along! Most museums offer free or discounted admission for young children accompanied by an adult, as well as other free days for all.

Many area museums have free admission on certain days each month. These free museum days happen on Seattle’s First Thursday, Tacoma’s Third Thursday and sometimes for special holiday events. Here's a rundown of how you can get into the local museums for free or cheap.

Blue Star Museums for Military

Many area museums are Blue Star Museums—a nation-wide program offering free admission for military families to museums, art galleries, and science centers. For a full list of which museums participate in the program, check the current list on the Blue Star website.

Free Museum Passes from Libraries

Yet another way to get into some local museums for free is to look to the county library systems. King County Library allows patrons to reserve free museum passes from its website. Passes are available for most Seattle-area museums, including Seattle Art Museum, EMP Museum, Museum of Flight and more.

Pierce County Library and Tacoma Public Library also have free passes, but rather than printing them out, patrons can check them out from the libraries.

Passes cannot be renewed or reserved, but they are often available. Both library systems have free passes to Museum of Glass, Tacoma Art Museum, and Washington State History Museum.

Free Museum Days in Seattle

Bellevue Arts Museum
Blue Star Museum: No
How to visit for free: Free on First Fridays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. also free for kids under 6, free for members
Location: 510 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Blue Star Museum: Yes
How to visit for free: For First Thursdays, the museum is open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. and admission is free. Seattle Public Library has passes. Admission is also free for UW students, staff and faculty.
Location: On University of Washington campus, on the corner of 17th Avenue NE and NE 45th Street.

Center for Wooden Boats
Blue Star Museum: No
Admission is always free.
Location: 1010 Valley Street, Seattle

Frye Art Museum
Blue Star Museum: Yes
Admission is always free.
Location: 704 Terry Avenue, Seattle

Klondike Gold Rush Museum
Blue Star Museum: No
Admission is always free.
Location: 319 2nd Avenue South, Seattle

Museum of Flight
Blue Star Museum: No
How to visit for free: Seattle Public Library passes. First Thursdays, the museum offers free admission from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Children under 4 are always free. Members are free.
Location: 9404 East Marginal Way South, Seattle

Museum of History and Industry
Blue Star Museum: No
How to visit for free: Seattle Public Library passes. First Thursdays, this museum has free admission from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Children 14 and under are always free.
Location: 860 Terry Avenue N, Seattle WA, 98109

Northwest African American Museum
Blue Star Museum: No
How to visit for free: Seattle Public Library passes.

Children under 5 always free. Free for members, and the museum offers free admission on the first Thursday of every month.
Location: 2300 South Massachusetts Street, Seattle

Seattle Art Museum
Blue Star Museum: Yes
How to visit for free: Seattle Public Library passes. First Thursdays the museum is free for everyone. The first Friday of each month, admission is free to seniors 62 and older.
Location: 1300 First Avenue, Seattle

Seattle Asian Art Museum
Blue Star Museum: No
How to visit for free: Seattle Public Library passes. SAAM is open to the public for free on First Thursdays. The first Friday of each month is free for seniors 62+. The first Saturday is free for families.
Location: 1400 East Prospect Street, Seattle
Please note that the Seattle Asian Art Museum is closed for renovations and expects to reopen in 2019.

 

Free Museum Days in Tacoma

Museum of Glass
Blue Star Museum: Yes
How to visit for free: On Tacoma’s Third Thursdays, MOG is free from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Always free to children 5 and under. Pierce County Library and Tacoma Public Library have passes you can check out.
Location: 1801 Dock Street, Tacoma

Tacoma Art Museum
Blue Star Museum: Yes
How to visit for free: On Third Thursdays, TAM is open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for free. Children 5 and under are always free. Pierce County Library and Tacoma Public Library have passes you can check out.
Location: 1701 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma

Children’s Museum of Tacoma
Blue Star Museum: Yes
How to visit for free: Children’s Museum of Tacoma is a pay-as-you-will museum, meaning if you can’t afford to pay, you and your children can still come in and enjoy the museum!
Location: 1501 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma

Washington State History Museum
Blue Star Museum: Yes
How to visit for free: For Third Thursday, WSHM offers free admission from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Children under 5 are free. Pierce County Library and Tacoma Public Library have passes you can check out.
Location: 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma