What can be better than a day at the museum? How about a day at the museum for free.
Museum Day Live, a program initiated 10 years ago by Smithsonian magazine and the Smithsonian Institution, returns for 2015 with more than 1,000 museums around the country offering free admission on Saturday, Sept. 26.
On Long Island, 13 museums, galleries and cultural institutions are participating in the annual event.
Museum Day Live has grown in popularity every year across the country. "We had over 260,000 visitors last year," says Steve Giannetti, chief revenue officer for Smithsonian Enterprises. "This year we expect an equal if not greater level of participation." Giannetti says the goal of Museum Day Live is for museums to "emulate the policy of the Smithsonian and open their doors free of charge," at least for one day. The Smithsonian operates 19 museums and galleries, mostly in the Washington, D.C., area, and most do not charge admission. "It is an incredible opportunity for museums and other cultural institutions to share their unique experiences with their community," he says.
Here's how it works: Go to the Museum Day Live website (nwsdy.li/museumday) and create a free account. You will then be able to download a ticket. Each ticket allows the holder and one guest free admission to any one participating museum. One ticket can be downloaded per household and per email address. The ticket does not cover any parking charges.
Once you have your ticket, decide where you want to go. At the Museum Day Live website, you can search for participating museums by state or ZIP code. The list includes links to each institution's website, so you can find a museum with an exhibit or collection that interests you the most.
While many area institutions are participating, some of the elite Manhattan museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art are not. Still, there's more than enough art and treasures available to see.
For the museums that participate, it's a chance to attract a new audience that may return again and again. "We love getting people back who have been here, but to broaden the base with this is fantastic," says Neil Watson, executive director of the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook, one of the local institutions participating in Museum Day Live. "Our job is education and entertainment and creating an experience that they'll remember."