Get Free Museum Tickets Across the U.S. in September to Celebrate Smithsonian's Annual Museum Day

Head to a participating museum on Sept. 18.

The Smithsonian Magazine is bringing back its annual Museum Day in September, granting free access to museums and cultural centers across the country.

The 17th annual celebration will allow people to request a free ticket to one of more than 1,000 museums in nearly all 50 states for Saturday, Sept. 18, Smithsonian Magazine shared with Travel + Leisure. This year's event, which carries the theme "Experience America," comes after 2020's Museum Day — like many events around the world — was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"As we begin to feel a sense of normalcy in our day-to-day lives, we are honored to welcome the public back to Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. and New York and museums around the country this Museum Day," Amy Wilkins, the chief revenue officer at Smithsonian Media, said in a statement provided to T+L. "In a year that has challenged us in unprecedented ways, it is our hope that this year's event serves as a reminder of the people, places, and cultural experiences that have the power to unite us all."

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Win McNamee/Getty

Museum-goers can get up close to the space shuttle Enterprise at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City, or explore the history of the blues at the Blues Hall of Fame Museum in Memphis.

Those who want to attend must request a ticket online for the museum they wish to go to starting at midnight on Aug. 18. Each ticket includes general admission for the ticket holder plus one guest, but is not valid for things like special exhibits, parking, or IMAX films.

Each person can request a ticket to one museum location (so Smithsonian Magazine cautions people should "Choose wisely! There are no takebacks.").

In addition to visiting in person, people can enter to win one of five virtual Smithsonian museum tours along with a private Q&A with a museum educator for up to 35 guests thanks to The Quaker Oats Company, which is sponsoring Museum Day. People can also enter online through Sept. 15 to win one of 100 Smithsonian science kits each day.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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