The MFA

You might be A-OK with your gym habits, a wizard in the kitchen and already have the perfect boyfriend, but let’s face it — everyone could stand to get a little more cultured in 2013. While jet-setting to Paris to take in the Louvre would be great, you don’t have to head to Europe to get your fill of art, history and culture. Turn off the TV, peel yourself from the couch and unsuck your brain by checking out these Boston area museums on the cheap. Even if budgeting isn’t a top resolution for you in the New Year, we can all stand to save a little money, and get smarter while doing it!

Boston Public Library (BPL) – Not just for books, the BPL hosts awesome exhibitions that you can access for free. Check out Boston Sports Temples, offering a glimpse into places like the Boston Garden, Fenway Park, Braves Field and Suffolk Downs, or Boston in the Gilded Age: Mapping Public Places, which looks at city planning and Boston’s early park system.

Boston Children’s Museum – If you have kids, you can entertain them on the cheap courtesy of Target. The retailer sponsors $1 admission for all every Friday from 5pm – 9pm.

Harvard Museum of Natural History– The Harvard Museum of Natural History is already a great deal at just $9 for adult admission, but if you have a valid Harvard ID, you and a guest can get in for free. Additionally, Massachusetts residents get free entry every Sunday from 9am – 12pm and Wednesday from 3pm – 5pm.

Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) – The ICA hosts Free Thursday Nights from 5pm – 9pm every Thursday, granting free access for all. Additionally, families, defined as “tw0 adults accompanied by children 12 and under,” can visit for free on the last Saturday of each month. Once inside, you can opt to take in a free guided tour of the incredible art. For more details on tour dates and times, click here.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum – Admission to the Gardner Museum is $15 for adults, but college students can snag a ticket for $5 with a valid ID. Visits on your birthday are free, and if you’re named Isabella – with that spelling – you have free admission for life. Finally, bring your MFA ticket stub to the Gardner Museum within two days of purchase to save $2 on adult general admission.

MIT Museum – Of course, the brainiacs at MIT have a museum dedicated to their work. MIT ID holders can always get free admission, while the general public can visit for free Sundays from 10am – 12pm and the second Friday of each month from 5pm – 8pm.

Museum of Fine Art (MFA) – Wednesday nights after 4 pm, a voluntary contribution will get you into the museum. Also, admission is free to all visitors during Open House Days: Monday, January 21, 2013 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day); Monday, May 27, 2013 (Memorial Day); and Monday, October 14, 2013. The MFA also hosts a University Membership Program, which grants free admission to students with a valid ID. For a list of participating institutions, click here.

New England Aquarium – Massachusetts teachers get free admission with proof of current classroom employment. Those in a wheelchair and the visually impaired are also invited to the Aquarium free of charge.

Zoo New England –From 10am – 12pm on the first Saturday of every month, all guests receive the children’s admission price: $11 at Franklin Park Zoo and $10 at Stone Zoo. Additionally, the Zoo is offering a $4 off coupon now through January 31st.

There’s more…

During the first weekend of every month, Bank of America cardholders can take advantage of Museums on Us, receiving free admission to the MFA and the MIT Museum.

Boston Public Library members can reserve museum passes for free or discounted rates to the ICA, MFA, Gardner Museum, Aquarium, Museum of Science, Zoo New England and more. Restricted dates and times do apply; check the BPL website in advance when planning your trip.

Alternatively, if you want to be a tourist in your own city, check out the $46 City Pass, which allows you one-time admission into the MFA, the Aquarium, Skywalk Observatory, Museum of Science and the Harvard Museum of Natural History for nine consecutive days. Along the same lines, the Go Boston Card grants access to 58 attractions in the area for various prices, depending on how days you choose.

What discounts do you score at museums around town?