Austin Museum Day is an open invitation to discover the many treasures that our city holds — at no cost to you. For the 18th consecutive year, more than 40 institutions across Austin will offer free admission, special viewings, and kid-friendly activities on Sunday, September 20.
This weekend, reconnect with the local arts scene and explore the wide variety of art, science, and history gems peppered throughout Austin. Here are some of our favorites, including unique galleries, can't-miss exhibits, and more.
For the artsy types
This Austin Museum Day, wander among some of the newer installations at The Contemporary Austin's beautiful Laguna Gloria campus, like Canopy Tower, Looking Up, and The Stairs. There will also be live artist demos, music performances, and more for the kiddos.
The Elisabet Ney Museum is also hosting a special event geared towards children called "Portraiture in the Park," which explores the meaning of portraits and all the ways we can draw them. Enjoy art activities, caricatures, and food trucks on the museum lawn.
Don't miss: Natalie Frank's works based off of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales are still on display at the Blanton Museum of Art. For those who have never been to the Blanton (shame on you), this museum on the University of Texas campus offers a comprehensive look at art history all across the globe.
For the history buffs
For the locavores out there, the Austin History Center is hosting an exhibit in honor of the Paramount Theatre's 100th birthday. Local musician and author Jesse Sublett will also be on hand to perform and talk about his latest book on Austin gangsters in the 1960s.
Alternatively, Lone Star State lovers should swing by the Bullock Texas State History Museum. In addition to exploring three floors' worth of artifacts at the museum, there's still time to see the to-scale model of La Belle — a 17th-century French ship that sank in Matagorda Bay — and the art of Tom Lea.
Don't miss: Ladies and Gentlemen ... The Beatles! is still in full swing at the LBJ Presidential Library. If you haven't seen it yet, now's the time to walk through this groovy exhibit on the Fab Four.
For the scientific discoverers
Museums aren't just for art and artifacts. Grab the kids, get outside, and get your hands dirty at the Austin Nature and Science Center, which has a ton of interactive activities and exhibits to explore. You can also get better acquainted with Texas landscapes at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which will be hosting planting demos, a seed sale, and several children's activities.
For a blast from the past, head over to the Texas Memorial Museum and check out the history of the earth and the creatures who have lived here. If you have any mysterious fossils and rocks you haven't been able to identify, bring them by and let UT scientists and experts give 'em a look.
Don't miss: Thinkery has a wide variety of hands-on workshops and innovative programs for all ages. Take advantage of the free admission on Austin Museum Day and let the kids explore some of the coolest STEM exhibits around.
For the culturally inclined
Austin is a melting pot of different cultures. Get in touch with our collective heritage by making sugar skull piñatas with the Mexic-Arte Museum, touring the exhibits at the Austin American Resource Center, or listening to live German music with the German-Texan Heritage Society.
Don't miss: The George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center is offering a special viewing of the new Juneteenth Memorial Monument. After you check that out, explore the rest of the arts and activities that the center offers.
Keep Austin Weird
You name it, we've got a gallery in town that's put it on display. Is music your thing? Check out the Texas Music Museum or the Museum of Magnetic Sound Recording (or both). Are you a fan of Oregon Trail? Get a taste of pioneer life at the Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms. Do you like to go fast? Car fanatics will enjoy a stroll through the Austin Rock and Roll Car Museum. And if you're just really into Austin, the South Austin Popular Culture Center has you covered.
Other participating institutions include Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, Harry Ransom Center, Pump Project, French Legation Museum, and Women and Their Work, to name a few. For a list of participating places, visit the Austin Museum Day website or download the Austin Museum Partnership app for a complete guide to hours and special events.