Free Museums in Austin, Texas

Austin is full of amazing museums and many of them are free! Most of the museums on this list are always free, while others offer free admission on certain days/times. In order to help you visit them all, we’ve made a list of the museums, their free admission days, and their hours. If you time it right, you can visit nearly every museum in Austin and soak up a little Texas history, art, science, or international culture, without spending a dime.Free Museums in Austin TexasBefore you head out to visit these fantastic Austin museums, make sure to check out our list of Free Educational Resources. Many of the museums on this list offer learning guides and lesson plans to print before your visit, and some have a family-friendly kit that can be checked out on site in order to enhance your experience. You may also be interested in our Free Austin Museums Printable Checklist!

Free Museums in Austin

These museums are always free to the public.

Austin History Center

The Austin History Center offers historical and photographic archives of Austin. Their collections include a number of historical records documenting Austin’s history from before its founding to the present day. They also offer special themed exhibits on various Austin topics four times a year. View the current exhibits on display here.
Location: 810 Guadalupe St., Austin, TX, 78701
Hours:  Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., Monday: Closed, Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

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Austin Nature and Science Center

Located in west Zilker Park, the Austin Nature and Science Center offers fun indoor and outdoor activities for the whole family. Inside the center, families can visit the Trade Counter, visit the small model cave, view the rotating educational exhibits, and visit the front desk to check out an Eco-Detective Kit to use while out exploring the trails. Once outside, there’s a wildlife collection and a sand-filled dino-pit with bones ready to be excavated. Also, before heading to the nature center, print out some Austin Nature and Science Center Bingo Cards to make your trip even more fun.
Location: 301 Nature Center Dr., Austin
Hours:  Monday – Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Sunday 12:00-5:00 p.m.

 

Austin Fire MuseumAustin Fire Museum

The Austin Fire Museum is housed in Austin’s Central Fire Station No. 1 in the heart of downtown Austin. The active fire station was built in 1938 and is one of the city’s busiest stations. A visit to the museum often includes watching the fire trucks leaving for and returning from calls. The museum features AFD relics from as far back as the 1870s, photos, videos, and uniform pieces that can be tried on.
Location: 401 E 5th St, Austin, TX 78701
Hours:  Wednesday – Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

ohenrymuseum

O. Henry Museum

The O. Henry Museum is a historic house and the former home of the author William Sydney Porter, a famed short story writer better known by his pen name: O. Henry. The museum contains many period pieces including some of Porter’s correspondence, drawings, and unpublished manuscripts, as well as original photographs, furniture, decor, and housewares. Visit our O. Henry Museum DIY Learning page to learn more about O. Henry, his use of wordplay and puns, and print a Fun with Puns printable.
Location: 401 E 5th St, Austin, TX 78701
Hours:  Wednesday – Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Susana Dickinson Museum

Susanna Dickinson Museum

The Susanna Dickinson Museum is a historic house and the former home of Susanna Dickinson Hannig, a survivor of the Battle of the Alamo. The museum contains many period pieces, rare family artifacts, and furniture. Additionally, the museum has a library of over 500 Texas history books and children’s books that are available to read while you visit the museum. Visit our Susanna Dickinson Museum DIY Learning page to learn more about Susanna Dickinson, her experience at the Battle of the Alamo, and print a Remember the Alamo word search.
Location: 401 E 5th St, Austin, TX 78701
Hours:  Wednesday – Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

capitol visitors center

Capitol Visitors Center

Located on the Southeast corner of the Capitol grounds, the Capitol Visitors Center is housed in the historic General Land Office Building. It features fun, interactive exhibits and films about Texas history, including costumes to try on, hands-on activities and neat photo opportunities. If you’ve ever wanted to dress up like a cowboy, a pioneer, or see what the Goddess of Liberty would look like with your face, this is your chance!
Location: 112 East 11th Street, Austin, Texas 78701
Hours:  Monday – Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Sunday noon – 5:00 p.m.

texas capitol

The Texas Capitol

Visiting the Texas Capitol offers a chance to learn about Texas history and to watch Texas politics in action. Admission to the Capitol and tours are free. Whether exploring the building, the annex, the Visitors Center, or admiring any of the 20 monuments located on the 22 acre grounds, the Texas Capitol offers a variety of learning opportunities for families in Austin. Visit our Texas Capitol DIY Learning page to learn more about the Capitol and print a fun Lone Star Search page.
Location: 1100 Congress Ave, Austin, Texas 78701
Hours:  Monday through Friday – 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday – 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Hours are extended during Legislative Session.

elisabet ney museum

Elisabet Ney Museum

The Elisabet Ney Museum is a historic building and the home and former studio of the sculptor, Elisabet Ney. The museum currently contains many of Ney’s sculptures in bronze, marble, and plaster, as well as her furniture, tools, and personal effects. The collection includes 50 of the 100 statues, busts, and medallions created by Ney and includes sculptures of Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, Gen. Albert Sydney Johnston, and Ney’s masterpiece, the allegorical figure of Lady Macbeth. Visit our Elisabet Ney DIY Learning page to learn more about the famous sculptor and print a fun Let’s Make a Sculpture page.
Location: 304 East 44th Street, Austin
Hours:  Wed. – Sun. 12-5 p.m.; Closed on Monday and Tuesday.

carver museum

George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center

Dedicated to the collection, preservation, research, and exhibition of African-American historical and cultural material The George Washington Carver Museum offers interactive exhibits, programs, classes, and a genealogy center. The galleries feature a core exhibit on Juneteenth, a permanent exhibit on Austin African-American families, an Artists’ Gallery, and a children’s exhibit on African-American scientists and inventors.
Location: 1165 Angelina Street, Austin
Hours:  Mon. – Wed. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Thu. 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Fri. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Closed Sun.

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Emma S Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center

The Mexican American Cultural Center is dedicated to the preservation, creation, presentation and promotion of Mexican American cultural arts and heritage. The center houses two galleries featuring local, regional and national Latino/a artists.
Location: 600 River St., Austin, TX, 78701
Hours:      Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Friday: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Gutenberg Bible Ransom Center AustinHarry Ransom Center

The Harry Ransom Center works to advance the study of the arts and humanities and offers a unique record of the creative process of writers and artists. The center offers rotating exhibits that feature hands-on activities and opportunities for enrichment, discovery, and delight. Permanent exhibits include the world’s first photograph and an original Gutenberg Bible.
Location: 21st and Guadalupe Streets, Austin
Hours: 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Thursday, Noon–5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

UT Landmarks Austin

Monochrome for Austin by Nancy Rubins, part of the Landmarks collection

Landmarks at the University of Texas

While not technically a museum, the Landmarks program at the University of Texas offers visitors the opportunity to view more than 35 works of modern and contemporary art throughout the 433 acre campus. There is a printable pdf map of the Landmarks pieces available to download, as well as an audio guide that can be listened to via a mobile device. GPS coordinates for each piece are available on the artist pages.
Location: 2305 Trinity Street, Austin
Hours: Outdoor public art is available for viewing at all times. Works located indoors may be viewed during each facility’s regular operating hours.

dps museum

Courtesy of Texas DPS Museum

Texas DPS Museum & Research Center

Dedicated to the Department and to educating the community, the museum is located within the headquarters of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Visit the museum to view the Department’s past, look at the present, glimpse into the future, and honor those Department members who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
Location: 5805 N. Lamar Blvd, Building A, Lobby, Austin
Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

governors mansion

Texas Governor’s Mansion

The Texas Governor’s Mansion has been the official home of every Texas governor since June 1856. Through the many years since, the house has survived as the state and its First Families went through many social and political changes. Now a registered National Historic Landmark, it is the oldest executive residence west of the Mississippi, the fourth oldest in the Nation, and the oldest to survive and function essentially in its original configuration. The Governor’s Mansion is a reminder of the dedicated leaders who helped create the great State of Texas.
Location: 1010 Colorado St, Austin, TX 78701
Hours: Free guided tours of the Texas Governor’s Mansion are available Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and select Saturdays, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Tours last 30 minutes and are subject to availability. Reservations are required for tours and must be made at least one week in advance. Sorry, but there are no walk-up tours.

military museum

Texas Military Forces Museum

The Military Forces Museum offers 45,000 square feet of uniforms, weapons, tanks, artillery, aircraft, helicopters, and more, showing the history of the Texas Military Forces from 1823 to the present. Living history programs, battle reenactments and other special events take place throughout the year.
Location: 2200 West 35th St., Bldg. 6 ( for GPS enter 3038 West 35th St.), Austin
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Closed Monday

splash

Splash! Exhibit at the Beverly S. Sheffield Education Center

The Splash! exhibit offers a fun and exciting learning experience deep inside a simulated limestone cave. Multimedia displays and interactive exhibits demonstrate how the aquifer was formed and how it maintains its average daily flow of 32 million gallons of water at Barton Springs. The endangered Barton Springs salamander and other native aquatic species on display illustrate the diversity of life dependent on the water quality of local springs, creeks and rivers. Visitors can also investigate how their routine activities can impact local water quality while learning about water quality testing.
Location: Zilker Park – 2201 Barton Springs Rd, Austin
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday, 12-5 p.m.; Closed Monday

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 9.48.11 AMWilliamson Museum

The Williamson Museum offers free hands-on educational programs through innovative exhibits, tours and outreach. On the 2nd Saturday of each month from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., The Williamson Museum offers hands-on, interactive history lessons & activities.
Location: 716 South Austin Ave, Georgetown, Texas
Hours: Wednesday – Friday, 12–5 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Austin Museums That Offer Free Admission Times

These museums charge admission fees, but are free to public on certain days and times, or with special programs.

blanton 4

Blanton Museum of Art

The Blanton Museum, located on the University of Texas Campus offers one of the largest art collections in Central Texas. Its permanent collection features over 17,000 works and features European paintings, prints and drawings, as well as contemporary American and Latin American art. Read our post about writing an ekphrastic poem, a poem based on a piece of art, and print out our handy writing guide before heading into the galleries. Also, make sure to visit the front desk and check out a wireless headset which features a spoken tour and music to complement the European paintings exhibit.
Location: 200 E MLK Boulevard, Austin
Free Admission: Thursdays, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. every third Thursday. Third Thursdays feature special programming and extended hours.

Bullock Museum

Bullock Texas State History Museum

The Bullock Texas State History Museum offers interactive visits, films, and rare artifacts that let you explore and learn all about the exciting history of the state of Texas. Admission is free on the first Sunday of every month. First Sundays offer special programming for families from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and include art, presentations, and gallery activities.
Location: 1800 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701
Free Admission: The First Sunday of every month. 12:00 p.m to 5:00 p.m

Laguna Gloria

Looking Up by Tom Friedman, at Laguna Gloria

The Contemporary Austin

The Contemporary Austin consists of two museums, The Jones Center and Laguna Gloria. Both locations offer innovative exhibitions, education, interpretative programs and direct access to the creative process in order to expose audiences to a variety of modern and contemporary art.
Location: The Jones Center: 700 Congress Avenue, Austin, TX 78701
Laguna Gloria, 3809 West 35th Street, Austin, TX 78703
Free Admission: Tuesdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at The Jones Center and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Laguna Gloria.

LBJ Library

LBJ Presidential Library

The LBJ Library and Museum is one of thirteen Presidential Libraries in the US, the 10-story building holds 45 million pages of historical documents, 650,000 photos, and 5,000 hours of recordings from President Johnson’s political career. Only floors 3 (entry level), 4, and 10 are open to the public for exhibits. Guests can take a peek at a 7/8ths replica of the Oval Office, view some of Lady Bird Johnson’s elegant clothing, and watch a film about life in the White House.
Location: 2313 Red River Street, Austin
Free Admission: On the following days: Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, Explore UT, Memorial Day, The Fourth of July, August 27 (LBJ’s birthday), Veterans Day, and Austin Museum Day, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Mexic-Arte Museum

Mexic-Arte Museum is dedicated to cultural enrichment and education through the collection, preservation and presentation of traditional and contemporary Mexican, Latino, and Latin American art and culture to promote dialogue and develop understanding for visitors of all ages. Offers rotating exhibits from artists in the United States, Mexico, and Latin America.
Location: 419 Congress Avenue, Austin
Free Admission: Sundays noon – 5 pm and every day in December: Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday noon – 5 p.m.

Children's Museum Austin

The Thinkery

The Thinkery is Austin’s STEM focused children’s museum featuring hands-on interactive exhibits, art centers, a  playground, and classes.
Location: 1830 Simond Ave., Austin
Free Admission: Community Nights on Wednesdays, from 4-8 p.m., where admission is by donation (suggested: $1 per person).

Have fun exploring the free museums in Austin! Here’s a Checklist of Free Austin Museums that you can print to track your progress. And, if you’ve been to every museum and are still looking for more fun, free things to do, make sure to check out our 100+ Free Things to Do in Austin Checklist.