This Sunday, Sept. 17, Austin will be celebrating its 20th Annual Austin Museum Day where over 35 museums in the Austin-area will be free of charge, and many will be hosting special events for the day. There’s even an Instagram contest where you could win some awesome stuff! You can find the full list of participating (AKA: FREE) museums here, but below we’ve highlighted a few of our favorites from the list. So get out there and learn something new FOR FREE!
Austin Toy Museum
This Downtown museum features over 200,000 toys, which is enough to bring out the inner child in anyone. Spend the day exploring fun exhibits including Rainbow Brite, My Little Pony, Transformers and He-Man. There’s also a video game exhibit featuring Sega and Atari console games and a Vintage Arcade.
Briscoe Center for American History
Also on the UT Campus, the Briscoe Center is usually closed on Sunday, but on Sept.17, it will have special hours of 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Stop by and check out the American South exhibit on its last day and learn about the South in the 19th Century, including slavery, the cotton industry and the Civil War.
Blanton Museum of Art
On the UT campus, you’ll find Austin’s primary art collection. Not only can you view thousands of works of art from around the world, but on Austin Museum Day, YOU can be an artist, too, in a community Rangoli-inspired art project! There will also be storytellers and traditional Indian dances from 1-4 p.m.
Elisabet Ney Museum
In the historic 1892 studio of sculptress Elisabet Ney, you’ll find a stunning collection of her sculptures, and on Sept. 17, you can make your own art. To celebrate Museum Day, the museum is hosting a Portraiture in the Park event, complete with live music and demonstrations, art activities and caricatures, food trucks and more!
Brush Square Museums
On this square, you’ll find two historic landmarks that have been turned into museums. The first is the home of Alamo survivor, Susanna Dickinson, which now houses an exhibit on her time in the Alamo, featuring rare family artifacts.
The home of famous writer O. Henry is also part of the Brush Square Museums. On Austin Museum Day, the museum will be hosting special readings of Henry’s works at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., with a caricature artist painting portraits and “Oh Henry!” candy bars for sale.
Step into another culture at this art museum where you can view traditional and contemporary Mexican, Latino and Latin American works of art. On Sept. 17, the museum will have hands-on exhibits that compliment the current Frida Kahlo exhibit.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center –
Along with having free admission on Sunday, at this center where you can frolic through fields of flowers, you can also join in on tons of nature activities all day including planting demonstrations and an entomology exhibit. Be sure to check out the fall flowers garden tour as well!
Sheffield Education Center
Dive into Barton Springs without even getting wet at the Education Center’s Splash! Into the Edwards Aquifer exhibit about Barton Springs, how it was formed and its complex ecosystem. You’ll also learn about the living things that call Austin’s local rivers, springs and creeks home.
LBJ Presidential Library
The Presidential Library is packed with fun exhibits including the permanent exhibits on President Johnson’s time in office, but right now there’s also a PBS exhibit (which was created after LBJ signed the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967) and you know how much we love PBS! Learn about some of PBS’s most beloved programs including “Sesame Street”, “Mister Roger” and “The Joy of Painting” by Bob Ross. On Museum Day, “Sesame Street’s” Grover will be there and KLRU President Bill Stotesbery will be the featured Storytime guest.
Texas Wendish Heritage Museum
Back in 1854, immigrants from Eastern Germany (called Wends) settled in the historic Texas town Serbin — that town has since become the Texas Wendish Heritage Museum. Transport yourself back in time and take a peak into the life of these folks with a walk through the town’s historic buildings, including the St. Paul Lutheran Church, one of South Central Texas’s painted churches.
Texas Music Museum
Explore the musicians that helped Austin claim the title of the “Live Music Capital of the World” at this museum where you’ll find personal items from some of the Texas greats, including Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and Beyoncé! You can also check out the current exhibit on the “Contributions of East Austin African-American Musicians to Texas Music.”
The Contemporary Austin
View hundreds of Contemporary artworks at this museum and find sculptures sprawling across the Sculpture Park. The museum will be hosting all kinds of hands-on activities exploring how color and light combine to make art, and the music group Kupira Marimba will perform outside the museum.
Along with the permanent fun hands-on learning activities, The Thinkery will also have a Kitchen Lab where kids ages 4 and up can learn about extracting DNA from fruits and vegetables. Be sure to get to the museum early to ensure you get a spot in the long line for one of Austin’s favorite children’s museums!
The Williamson Museum
The living farm at the Round Rock location will not only be alive with history, but the museum will also be “yarn-bombed” on Sept. 17 and you are invited to contribute to the art! Stop by for live demonstrations, tons of fun and more!
Women & Their Work
This gallery is filled with art works from incredible female artists across Texas. The current exhibit “Red Dot Art” features 150 artworks by some of the best contemporary artists in the state, and on Museum Day, the exhibit will also feature a fun game of “I Spy” to help people of all ages get a deeper look at the pieces of art throughout the gallery.