New York Museums $1 Budget Guide!

Updated: Mar 1, 2020

Most museums in New York City have a “Pay what You wish” period where the amount you pay is up to you. You can pay $1 for yourself or any number of people. I personally have tried this several times. I also saw others pay as low as a penny for the fee.

I’ll post a full list of the time and day that the museums have this options below. But first, I want to share some information about my favorites.

If you are visiting New York You have to visit The Met Fifth Avenue. The Met has a suggested admission option but only for New York State residents as well as New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut students. They are lenient with the verification -- just bring any state ID or statements. You can also pay for guests at a suggested price. So, you only need one person in the group to have a NY state ID.

The Met is gigantic. You have the visitor’s favorites such as the Egyptian exhibition and The Temple of Dendur. The artifacts look amazing for their age.

They yearly have a different Met Fashion Exhibit . This year the #MetCamp theme is Susan Sontag's 1964 essay "Notes on 'Camp'", which examines how the elements of irony, humor, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality, and exaggeration are expressed in fashion.

Personally, I would make sure to view the Robert Lehman Collection. It houses art work from icons such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Da Vinci. It won’t be every day that you can say you saw art from these legends with your own eyes. On the 4th floor, The Met also houses works of Vincent Van Gogh.

Other notable museums include The Guggenheim, which houses the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe. His work I would describe as interesting, provocative and ahead of his time.

If you are going for the pay what you wish option, it's best to arrive 20-30 minutes before the promotion starts as there will likely be a line of museum-goers. Or another option is to arrive later so the crowd will have already entered the museum.

Self Portrait, Robert Mapplethorpe

American Museum of Natural History

Whitney Museum of American Art

Detail of National Times, 2016

"Untitled",1994 Felix Gonzalez-Torres

Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

Curiosity Cloud, Mischer'traxler Studio

Curiosity Cloud is activated by our body warmth and causes oversized light bulbs to illuminate and robotic insects to flutter. Currently on show until January 2020.

The Noguchi Museum located at Astoria, Queens. Chartered as The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, was designed and created by the Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi.

The Noguchi Museum doesn’t have a suggested admission option. General admission is $10. The Japanese lantern designs are definitely fascinating. Walking through the museum was a Zen experience and they also have a cafe if you decide to take a break. If you are fascinated with Japanese design and artistry, it’s a definite must.

Suggested Admission/ Pay as you wish:

1. The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters.

Available for New York State residents

2. American Museum of Natural History


3. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Saturdays, 5–8 pm (cash only)

4. Whitney Museum of American Art

Fridays, 7–9:30 pm

5. Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

Saturdays, 6- 9:00 pm

6. Museum of Art and Design

Thursdays, 6- 9:00 pm

7. The Noguchi Museum

First Friday of every month free all year-round

For more information about your visit to New York, the best guide I found in the market is Fodor's Full Color New York City Guide.

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