Visit most any major museum and you could pay handsomely for your admission, your store visit and access to a special exhibit. Museums must make money to sustain their operations, but that doesn’t mean you should be gouged as you make your way through the various galleries. Here is how you can save money on your next museum visit.

1. Look for discounts.

You do not need to pay full price when visiting a museum. Discounts are available — you just need to know where to find them.

Groupon and sites like it will regularly offer discounts to museum visitors. Typically, you will be offered as much as half-off when you select the discount, usable on select days or for certain exhibits. If you belong to Bank of America, museum visits are also free on certain days of the month. Check out their Museums on Us program to learn more.

Your smartphone can help you find discounts too. There are more than 20 smartphone apps that provide discounts on a variety of products including museum visits.

2. Demonstrate flexibility.

If you must visit a museum on a peak day or time, you will find that discounts are hard to come by. Many museums offer free hours — you need to know when these take place and plan your visit accordingly.

Some museums restrict those free visits to a certain gallery on a specific day of the week. You won’t see the entire collection, but if there is a display of interest to you, then you can spend your time there.

3. Work as a volunteer.

If there is a museum that you are passionate about and visit often, why not serve there as a volunteer? Most museums desperately need dedicated volunteers and reward them handsomely through free admission. Work a select number of hours per year and you should gain access to enjoy the entire museum for free and on your own time.

Some museums also partner with other museums to extend the volunteer benefit further out. This means that if you volunteer at one museum, partner museums may also provide free admittance. This can be especially rewarding and you travel around the country to take in the various collections found in each city.

At New York’s Guggenheim Museum, for example, volunteers receive free admission for themselves and up to three guests. They also receive discounts at the store and cafe and receive free admission to most other New York museums.

4. Become a member.

Join a museum and you will pay an annual membership fee. Typically, this fee is $75 and allows you access to the museum several times throughout the year. For some museums, you gain unlimited access for one full year.

Sure, you will pay a fee, but there is another benefit: the cost of membership is usually tax deductible. Moreover, a museum membership will usually entitle you to a discount at the museum store and restaurant. It can also provide access to other museums at a reduced cost or for free.

Museum Considerations

Free or reduced passes to the museum can be had in other places too. Some people have reported success at their local public library where museum passes are offered to patrons. You may also find that your employer is a big patron of the arts. If so, flashing your employee identification card may save you money or even give you free access.

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