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How to get into museums for free in September (and all year long)

Get access to fine art, science, history and much more, gratis.

Alina Bradford/CNET

Every year, Smithsonian magazine hosts a free museum day. This year, a Museum Day ticket supplied by the Smithsonian gets you free admission at museums around the country.

The hitch? Tickets are only good for Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. To secure your tickets, head to the Museum Day website now. Type in your zip code and browse the available museums in your area.

You'll only be allowed to download one ticket for admission, so if you have additional people joining you, they will need to download tickets on their own.

If you're busy on Sept. 22, here are some other ways to get into your favorite museum for free all year long.

Show some plastic

You may use plastic to purchase tickets for your outings, but other cards sitting in your wallet can also get you free passes to your favorite museum.

For example, the Blue Star Museums plan allows those with a military ID, along with their families, free museum entry from from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. To find participating museums, check this map.

You can also use your credit or debit card to get free admission. If you have a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card and a picture ID, you can get into museums around the US for free on the first full weekend of every month.

This is only good for one free general admission, though. Here's a list of participating museums.

Go to the library

Some libraries let you check out more than movies and books. They'll also let you check out passes to museums and science centers. All you need to do is book the trip with your library a few weeks in advance. 

Participating city library systems include Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, New York, Dallas, Miami, Denver and Chicago.

Don't see your town? Call your local library or check out their website to see if it offers passes.

Free days

Usually, museums have days where you can visit a museum for free without any tickets or special prep. You just need to know when these days are.

Some towns have a history or culture night once a year where all the local historical sites, town tours and museums are free to the public. To find out if your town is planning one of these days, call your local Chamber of Commerce.

During slow times of the year, museums will also have their own free days. Check their website or give the museum a call and simply ask if they have any free admission days coming up on the calendar. 

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