A Free Admission Guide to Houston’s Museums, Zoo, and Gardens

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Houston has a long list of museums and cultural attractions. Here are a few that offer designated free entry days.

Asia Society Texas Center: The organization encourages partnerships between people, leaders and institutions from Asia and the West, providing enriching, innovative and relevant programs in the fields of arts and culture and community outreach. Admission to its building and the Great Hall exhibit is free, while the Sarofim Gallery will cost $5-$8 for non-members. 1370 Southmore; asiasociety.org/texas

The art car museum

Marie D. De Jesus, Houston Chronicle / Photographer

Art Car Museum: Dubbed “Garage Mahal”, the museum features imaginative and elaborate art cars, lowriders and mobile machinery, as well as rotating exhibitions by local, national and international artists. FREE ENTRANCE. 140 Heights,; artcarmuseum.com

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens

Jessica Kourkounis, Freelance / For the Chronicle

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens: Located in River Oaks, the 14-acre facility of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and former home of philanthropist Ima Hogg, houses a collection of decorative art, paintings and furniture. Admission is $5 to $15, however, it offers free admission on Family Day, the third Sunday of select months; the event features crafts, music, games, and guided tours of select rooms. 6003 Memorial; mfah.org

Blaffer Art Museum: The non-collection Museum of Contemporary Art located in the Arts District of the University of Houston campus offers a variety of free public programs, art exhibits, performances, and events. 4173 Elgin Street; blafferartmuseum.org

The National Buffalo Soldiers Museum.

The National Buffalo Soldiers Museum.

Marie D. De Jesus, Houston Chronicle / Photographer

Buffalo Soldiers National Museum: The research center is dedicated to African American soldiers with exhibits, workshops, and re-enactments. Admission $5-$10; free from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays, 3816 Caroline; buffalosoldiermuseum.com

Houston Children’s Museum: The museum offers interactive exhibits that engage children in fun learning experiences. Admission $13-$15, free on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., 1500 Binz; cmhouston.org

Houston Museum of Contemporary Art

Houston Museum of Contemporary Art

Courtesy photo / Courtesy photo

Houston Museum of Contemporary Art: The non-collecting institution founded in 1948 is dedicated to presenting international, national and regional art through exhibitions, lectures and educational programs. Free entry. 5216 Montrose; camh.org

Houston Czech Cultural Center Museum: The mission of the multifunctional cultural organization is to educate and celebrate Czech and Slovak culture, art and history. Admission $6 to $10, free Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.; 4920 San Jacinto; www.czechcenter.org

Gut Game at the Museum of Health.

Gut Game at the Museum of Health.

Courtesy photo, director, photo studio / Courtesy photo

The Health Museum: The museum offers interactive exhibits on health, medical science and the human body. Exhibits include the Amazing Body Pavilion, where visitors can get a close look at the human body and how it works, test their reflexes, and experience a 4D theater. Admission $8-$10, free Thursdays 2-7 p.m., 1515 Hermann; thehealthmuseum.org

The Heritage Society: Although there is an entrance fee to the museum’s gallery, visitors can use their cellphones to take a free guided tour of its historic buildings in Sam Houston Park. Instructions for the free tour are posted on signs in front of each building. 1100 Bagby; heritagesociety.org

Houston Photography Center: The mecca of free photography offers state-of-the-art exhibitions, workshops and a digital lab. 1441 West Alabama; hcponline.org

Houston Contemporary Craft Center: The non-profit visual arts center is dedicated to advancing education about the process, product and history of craftsmanship. Visitors can view innovative exhibits, participate in free craft workshops, and purchase unique gifts at the Asher Gallery. 4848 main; crafthouston.org

Houston Museum of African American Culture: The museum features works of art that represent the culture of Africans and African Americans across the state and geographic region. Admission is free, donations accepted. 4807 Carolina; hmaac.org

Houston Museum of Natural Science: The museum is home to the Burke Baker Planetarium, Wortham Giant Screen Theatre, Cockrell Butterfly Center, and permanent exhibit areas that cover everything from astronomy and space science to paleontology and wildlife. Admission $16-$25, free Thursdays 2-5 p.m., 5555 Hermann Park; hmns.org

“Bearing Witness: A Community Remembers” from the Houston Holocaust Museum.

“Bearing Witness: A Community Remembers” from the Houston Holocaust Museum.

Marie D. De Jesus, Houston Chronicle / Photographer

Houston Holocaust Museum: The museum tells the story of the Holocaust, honoring the legacy of survivors and teaching the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy. Exhibits include a World War II Holocaust wagon of the same type used to ferry millions to their deaths, images taken during that dark time, and handwritten letters from victims. Admission $6-$10, free 2-5 p.m. Thursdays and International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27), Yom HaShoah (April 28), Walter Kase (May 5), Stefi Altman (May 15), Human Rights Day (Dec. 10) and Veterans Day for serving military and veterans (Nov. 11); 5401 Carolina; hmh.org

The Houston Police Department Museum

The Houston Police Department Museum

Yasmeen Smalley, Personal/Column

Houston Police Department Museum: The free, self-guided museum is located in the lobby of HPD Headquarters and features exhibits and a memorial wall honoring the ultimate sacrifice made by officers who gave their lives in the line of duty. 1200 Travis; www.houstontx.gov/police/museum

Houston Zoo: Spread over 55 acres in Hermann Park, the zoo is home to over 6,000 animals from over 600 species. Exhibits include a tropical wetland, elephants in their habitat, and a gorilla village. Admission $16.96-$21.20, free first Tuesday of each month, online reservations required. 6200 Hermann Park; thehealthmuseum.org

James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace: Built in 2012, the pyramid structure located adjacent to the Shepherd School of Music on the Rice University campus, is acoustically designed to host musical performances and serve as a laboratory for Shepherd School of Music students. Exhibit spaces are free and open to the public, some events and programs may require a ticket. 6100 Main, campus entrance; moody.rice.edu/james-turrell-twilight-epiphany-skyspace

The Jung Center: For more than 60 years, this nonprofit resource has provided a forum for dynamic conversations on psychological, artistic, and spiritual topics through exhibits and art programs. Free, some events and programs require a ticket. 5200 Montrose; junghouston.org

Lawndale Center for the Arts: The multidisciplinary contemporary art center engages Houston communities with exhibitions and programs that explore the aesthetic, critical, and social issues of our time. Admission is free for all exhibitions and public programs. 4912 Main; www.lawndaleartcenter.org

Moody Center for the Arts: The state-of-the-art, collection-free institution serves as an experimental platform for creative thought and original expression, with a library of rotating exhibitions and installations open to the public for free. 6100 main; arts.rice.edu/constituent/moody-center-arts

The Menil Collection: The museum presents a permanent collection of art from Antiquity, the Byzantine world, tribal cultures and the 20th century, from the personal collection of the late Dominique and Jean de Ménil. Admission is free, but donations are suggested. 1533 Sul Ross; menil.org

The Houston Museum of Fine Arts: The museum’s collections of nearly 70,000 objects span world cultures from antiquity to the present day and include in-depth collections of American art, European paintings, pre-Columbian and African gold, decorative arts and design, photography, prints and drawings, 20th and 21st century painting and sculpture and Latin American art. Admission $12-$19, free on Thursdays, 1001 Bissonnet; mfah.org

Townhouse project: Located in Houston’s Third Ward, the nonprofit arts initiative aims to create a positive workplace for local artists. Some of the shotgun-style houses are dedicated to art and photography exhibits, while others are devoted to literary and performing arts. 2521 Holman; projectrowhouses.org

The Rothko Chapel

The Rothko Chapel

Annie Mulligan, Houston Chronicle / Contributor

Rothko Chapel: The spiritual sanctuary on the Menil campus offers a peaceful meditative environment inspired by the murals of American painter Mark Rothko. 3900 Yupon to Sul Ross; rothkochapel.org

Station Museum of Contemporary Art: An exhibition forum for local, national and international artists, reflecting Houston’s cultural diversity. Free entry. 1502 Alabama; stationmuseum.com

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