Where Will You Go For Free Museum Day?

Cartoon Art Museum - free museum day
Flickr, Kim Smith

Whether you are traveling in the U.S. or having a staycation this Saturday, be sure to include some culture. September 28 is Museum Day Live! (aka Free Museum Day), when museums all over the country open their doors without charging admission.

The annual event is inspired by the Smithsonian museums, which offer free admission every day. You’ll have to register and download your free ticket in advance, which will get two guests in free to participating museums.

A few of our favorite museums participating:

Chicago
Smart Museum of Art
The University of Chicago’s art museum is always free, but this weekend is also the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, and museum-goers can also enjoy free concerts in the sculpture garden.

Dallas/Ft. Worth
American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum
Regular price: $7 adults
Serious airline nerds, frequent flyers and those on a long layover can check out this museum of aviation and American AIrlines history, just a few miles from DFW airport. Exhibits include a rare Douglas DC-3 plane.

Las Vegas
Burlesque Hall of Fame
Regular suggested donation or gift shop purchase: $5)
What’s Sin City without a little strip tease? See costumes, props and photos documenting the history, traditions and stars of burlesque dance.
Los Angeles
Grammy Museum
Regular price: $12.95 adults
Pop music lovers can check out four floors of music exhibits and memorabilia. The current exhibition features the career of Ringo Starr, including an interactive drum lesson with the Beatles‘ rhythm man himself.

New York
Museum of Chinese in America
Regular price: $10 adults
Learn about the immigrant experience in New York’s Chinatown in a building designed by Maya Lin. Current special exhibitions on the glamour of Shanghai women and the role Chinese-American designers in fashion. Follow it up with dim sum in the neighborhood.

San Francisco
Cartoon Art
Regular price: $7 adults
Take your comics seriously? This is the art museum for you, with 6,000 works of cartoon cels, comic strips and book art. Best. Museum. Ever.

Washington, D.C.
Museum of Crime and Punishment
Regular price: $21.95
Value the free admission and your freedom at a museum dedicated to criminals and police work. Fans of police procedural TV shows will enjoy the CSI lab and the filming studio for “America’s Most Wanted.”

Hergé Museum opens its doors just outside Brussels

To celebrate the year of the comic strip, Brussels is doing more than just host the 2009 comic book celebrations.

Just outside the city is the town of Louvain-la-Neuve, which recently became the home of the Hergé Museum.

Many North American readers probably never had the luck of getting to read much of the comic book work of Hergé, but anyone with European roots probably grew up reading his Tintin stories.

In fact, Tintin is one of the most popular comic strips ever created, and had a 54 year run, selling over 200 million books.

So, if you find yourself in Brussels, and want to learn more about Tintin and his creator, head down to the museum. The museum was opened on May 22nd, but won’t be open to the general public till June 2nd.

Visitor information and address

Need a Laugh? A Humor Triangle in NYC

If the news is getting you down, or if you’d like a big belly laugh, the kind that hurts, New York City is a place you should consider.

It’s one of the biggies in an article on the funniest cities in the U.S. One reason is because of the number of sitcoms that have been situated there–30 Rock being one of the latest. And, of course, there’s the never ending Saturday Night Live. In a way, there’s a comic triangle in New York with NBC being the first stop. Here you can go to tapings of Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Conan O’ Brian and Last Call with Carson Daly. Here’s the NBC Web site link to show you how to get tickets. There are two options. One is a lottery of sorts and the other is showing up the day of taping. If you don’t get to see the actual shows, you can always see where they are filmed by taking an NBC Studio Tour. I took this tour years ago.

Close to NBC studios is Carolines on Broadway. A couple years ago, I went to a fundraiser comedy show here and still think about how sharp and witty the performers were. Caroline’s pulls in top comic entertainment like Darrell Hammond who is on the bill this summer. Plus, the New Talent nights are considered a rites of passage of sorts for new comics on the verge of being discovered. Often, that happens on Carolines on Broadway’s stage.

For another comedy fix, you can also go to a taping of the David Letterman Show at CBS studios. I did get called last summer after putting my name in for tickets, but we weren’t able to go. A friend of mine went this past year by heading to the studio the day of the taping. I did wander into Rupert Jee’s Hello Deli which is often featured on the show. Rupert wasn’t there but I bought my husband a mug and a box of Explod-O-Pop popcorn.