First Thursdays: Free Musuems

On the first Thursday of every month, many museums in Washington (and all over the United States) are free to the public! Below are some wonderful local options. Check out Free Museum Day for a complete list.


The Burke Museum is located on the edge of the University of Washington campus. The Burke focuses on natural and cultural history, with deep respect for Indigenous and Native populations from the past and present.

The Seattle Asian Art Museum is tucked away in Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill. Walking around the park and visiting the museum is a lovely way to spend an afternoon or evening. The museum has collections from all over Asian and often has special rotating exhibits.

For those willing to travel to the east side, the Bellevue Arts Museum is a great choice. Their exhibits explore art, craft, and design. You’ll find works like sculpture, jewelry, and furniture, as well as pieces made from ordinary objects. If it’s nice out, you can go down the road and visit the nearby Bellevue Botanical Garden, which is always free!

In the First Hill neighborhood, you can find the Frye Art Museum. This museum is actually always free, so if you’re busy on a Thursday, you can visit any day of the week. The Frye focuses on contemporary art and artists.


The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) is housed in a beautiful new building on South Lake Union. MOHAI tells the story of how Seattle was founded. It shows how Seattle has grown to be the city we know and love, and what Seattle can be in the future.

The Seattle Art Museum is in the heart of downtown Seattle, only a short walk from Pike Place Market. The SAM has a long history of gathering world-class visual arts. They feature a mix of local and global works and artists. They are always updating and adding, with plenty of traveling exhibits to bring you back to the museum.

In the International District, the Wing Luke Museum celebrates the Asian Pacific Americans who helped shape the Pacific Northwest. They also host neighborhood tours and events; make sure you stop by to learn more about their programs.

– Meg Humphrey

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