Museums on the cheap? Yes, if you know the schedule. Several Charlotte area museums have free days. Some of the free days are for everyone, some are for kids and some are for customers of a certain bank. Read on to learn which days are the cheapest for each museum. Also, when free days come up they are regularly published in Charlotte on the Cheap. So make sure to subscribe to the daily emails and also check the Free Event List for updates and reminders.
Want to go on a day that’s not a free day? Groupon often has half-price deals for local museums, so check out their museum page.
Mint Museums: Both locations of the Mint Museum of Art are free on Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mint Museum Uptown’s free Wednesday night is part of Wednesday Night Live. Every Wednesday, from 5 to 9 p.m., The Bechtler, Mint Museum and Gantt Center are free to visit, and there will be a special performance, film, or other activity at one of them.
Mint Museum Randolph, 2370 Randolph Road, Charlotte, NC
Mint Museum Uptown, 500 South Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC
Mint Museum’s Sunday Fun Day: In the past, one Sunday most months, one of the Mint Museums held Sunday Fun Day from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Kids were admitted for free and accompanying adults were admitted for just $5. Special hands-on art activities were available those days. These events have been on hold. Visit the above link for a schedule when they return. Also you’ll find Family Days listed on Charlotte on the Cheap’s Free Event List.
Mint Museum’s NexGen program for teens: Teens can visit either Mint Museum for free any day, and also participate in free events just for them, once they sign up for NexGen Mint, which is free to join. Their parking at Mint Museum Uptown is even reimbursed.
2370 Randolph Road and 500 South Tryon Street
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture: The Gantt Center has occasionally presents Gantt After Dark or Art after Dark. At these events, guests can enjoy exploring the galleries for free, as well as other entertainment, usually including live music, dance, film, light bites, and hands-on art activities. There’s a cash bar. We will update on our calendar when the next free evening is announced.
In addition, the Gantt Center is offering free admission on Wednesday evenings, through the Wednesday Night Live program, along with The Mint Museum Uptown and Bechtler Museum, both of which are also free on Wednesday evenings. 5 to 9 p.m.
551 South Tryon Street
Schiele Museum of Natural History: The Schiele Museum is a natural history museum in Gastonia and well worth the short drive. If you have kids who go to Charlotte schools it’s very likely that they’ve enjoyed a field trip to the Schiele Museum at least once. It’s free on the second Tuesday and the fourth Friday of each month, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. In addition, on the free days on January, April, July, and October, the planetarium is also free. You should reserve your tickets in advance to guarantee entry.
1500 E. Garrison Blvd, Gastonia, NC
Bank of America’s Museums on Us: The first full weekend of every month, customers of Bank of America and Merrill Lynch can enjoy free admission to many museums around the country. You just need to bring your credit or debit card to get in for free. Admission does not include entry into special events or special exhibits. Right now the participating museums are Mint Museums, Bechtler Museum, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and Levine Museum of the New South, but that can change, so follow the above link.
Blue Star Museums: This is a program that provides free admission to over 2,000 museums nationwide to active duty military personnel and their families. It runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The military ID holder can bring five family members with him or her, and those family members can include children, a spouse, aunts, grandparents, etc. If the military member is deployed the spouse can still participate in the program. In Charlotte, participating museums are Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Charlotte Museum of History, Levine Museum of the New South, Mint Museum, and Wing Haven.
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art: Bechtler Museum of Modern Art participates on Wednesday Night Live. Every Wednesday, from 5 to 9 p.m., The Bechtler, Mint Museum and Gantt Center are free to visit, and there will be a special performance, film, or other activity at one of them.
420 South Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC
President James K. Polk Historic Site: James Polk’s homesite in Pineville is free to visit. Learn about our 11th president and life in the 1800’s. There are special living history events regularly scheduled as well. 12031 Lancaster Highway, Pineville, NC
McColl Center for Art + Innovation: The McColl Center houses artist studios and over 5,000 square feet of gallery space. Admission is free. Make sure to check its website for hours, because it’s not open every day. It also holds special events and Open Studio Saturday, during which when visits can explore the studios and watch the artists at work.
721 North Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC
Matthews Heritage Museum: The museum strives to nurture a healthy respect for the forward thinking of the early settlers and help guests reflect on the business environment, lifestyles and cultures of those early Matthews townspeople. It’s normally open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., although you should check for holiday closures. It’s free the first Saturday of the month. It’s always free for ages 10 and under.
232 North Trade Street, Matthews, NC
Gaston County Museum: This museum in Dallas, NC is always free. It includes two floors of changing exhibits, on history and/or art, the Daniel Stowe Carriage House, featuring the state’s largest collection of horse-drawn vehicles, and the permanent Carolinas Textile Exhibit, showing the area’s primary commodity from the late 1800’s to mid-1900’s –- cotton mills and the lives that revolved around them.
131 West Main Street, Dallas, NC
Discovery Place: This deal is not for everyone and it’s not quite free but it’s important to mention. All Discovery Place museums (Discovery Place Science, Discovery Place Kids Huntersville, Discovery Place Kids Rockingham, and Discovery Place Nature) offer $1/person admission to families showing an EBT or WIC Card, up to six people in a family. This program, which started in 2014, makes Discovery Place’s opportunities available to lower income families.
Discovery Place Science, 301 N. Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC
Discovery Place Nature, 1658 Sterling Road, Charlotte, NC
Discovery Place Nature, 105 Gilead Road, Huntersville, NC
Museum of the Alphabet: This museum in Waxhaw is always free. It focuses on where writing began and how it came to be what it is today. Trace the history of writing systems, from the ancient world to today. See maps, paintings, and sculptures. Take quizzes. Examine a copy of the Rosetta Stone, a 150-year-old Torah scroll, and a handmade lyre. You can also print your name in Arabic, Assyrian, Hebrew, and Punjabi.Monday–Saturday, 9 a.m.–noon, 1–4 p.m.
6409 Davis Road, Waxhaw, NC
Eastern Cabarrus Historical Society Museum: The museum is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is free to visit.
1100 N. Main Street, Mt. Pleasant, NC