Celebrate International Museum Day with This List of Free Museums Los Angeles Offers

international museum day is the perfect time to acquaint yourself with free museums los angeles offers
Updated: April 2024

It’s May 18th and everyone knows what that means! Okay, so you probably don’t, but allow us to illuminate you: it’s International Museum Day! As the name suggests, this day is aimed at honoring the spirit of museums the world over. And what better way to do that than list off some of the free museums Los Angeles citizens (or visitors to the city) can enjoy? Almost every museum in Los Angeles (and there are plenty of them) provides free entry. You just need to know when to go. But before we get to that, let’s learn a bit more about International Museum Day.

The Brief History of International Museum Day

Museums are more than a beacon for school field trips and awkward first dates. But to draw much needed attention to these galleries of the human experience, something needed to change. That’s why in 1977, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) held the first International Museum Day.

Every year, International Museum Day picks a new theme. Admittedly, these aren’t that varied. For example, last year’s theme was “The Future of Museums” while this year’s is “The Power of Museums.” Vague themes aside, was ICOM’s mission to boost awareness with their own international day a success? If the majority of you are just now hearing about it, probably not. But this doesn’t diminish the importance of museums in our society. 

The Museum as a Sanctuary

Benjamin Franklin once wrote that “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” It may be an exaggeration, but life can certainly have that feeling. Museums are one of the few resources we can rely on in our society that challenges that grim idiom. Even the brokest, most down-on-their-luck amongst us can find a free day at some museum or another. The amount of free museums Los Angeles offers borders on an embarrassment of riches. 

Like art? We’ve got The Broad, The Getty, and LACMA just to name a few. 

What about science? There’s the California Science Center, Natural History Museum, and the Griffith Observatory for starters. 

Photo credit: Envato

You’ll find a small army of museums focused on cultural heritage, art and history. Just look to La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, the Japanese American National Museum, or the USC Pacific Asia Museum. 

There are even museums honoring the romance of the natural world. The LA County Arboretum, Descanso Gardens, and South Coast Botanic Gardens are perfect examples. 

Some of these museums are always free. Some are only free museums Los Angeles residents can enjoy during certains hours. And some are only free on certain days of the week or month. We did our best to untangle this scheduling in the following guide to the free museums Los Angeles offers. We hope you find something that inspires you! 

Free Museums Los Angeles Residents and Visitors Can Enjoy

Photo credit: The Getty

This list compiles the free museums Los Angeles offers that remain admission-free during all of their hours of operation. Keep in mind, these museums keep their own hours. We’ve included the days of operation for each museum, though these are subject to change. We’ve also tried to specify which museums require reservations. 

Museums Conditionally Free to Los Angeles Residents 

This brief list compiles museums offering free admission with proof of Los Angeles residence during limited hours. While these museums recommend bringing a government-issued ID, they will likely accept utility bills too. 

Photo credit: La Brea Tar Pits and Museum

Los Angeles Museums That Offer Free Days During the Week or Month

Photo credit: Natural History Museum of LA County

Our final list compiles museums that don’t typically offer free admission. However, these museums offer free days during the week or month when guests are admitted free of charge. We’ve broken them down by day. Ironically, none of these free days fall on International Museum Day. But if you’re looking for something to do on the holiday itself, check our list above of permanently free museums Los Angeles offers. 






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