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.”

Crime and punishment museum where the good guys win

The National Museum of Crime and Punishment has nothing to do with the novel by the same name written by Fyodor Dostoevsky, but about one of the U.S.’s favorite past times, fighting criminals. In this museum that has just opened in Washington, D.C., according to this L.A. Times article by Sara Wire, it’s not the criminals that get the glory–Al Capone, move over, but the people who fight crime. No, no, no, not Batman or Superman or even Indiana Jones, but law enforcement officers and detectives–the good guys, the people who are sleuthing experts who save the day.

John Walsh, the man who hosts “America’s Most Wanted,” will broadcast the show from here once a month. Visitors to the museum will get a history lesson of crime and punishment in the United States from colonial times to present day. There are interactive features where folks get a true picture of what fighting crime is actually like–not the CSI version, but what really happens.

One of the messages throughout is that crime doesn’t pay. This is a museum to show off the good guys and down play the bad guys.

One of the exhibits that caught my attention is the car used for the movie Bonnie and Clyde. Even though Al Capone is not glorified here, a replica of his cell at Eastern State Penitentiary is. Both show the end of the life of crime, not the “fun” stuff of getting by with bank robberies that tend to get a movie audience to root for the get-a-way, at least for awhile.