Visiting Milwaukee museums is a great way to learn about the world around you with your kids, but it can be really expensive to purchase tickets for the whole family.
Here’s the good news!
You can easily explore Milwaukee on a budget with these free museums and free admission days.
I’ll show you nine awesome museums that are always free, and six more museums that offer free admission days for the whole community.
Let’s dive in!
Free Milwaukee Museums
1. Milwaukee Fire Museum
1615 W. Oklahoma Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53215
The Milwaukee Fire Museum is only open on the first Sunday of each month (April – December, excluding holidays) from noon to 4 p.m.
Built in 1927, this small museum houses the first department ambulance – a 1947 Cadillac – plus two trucks built in the Milwaukee Fire Department Shop during the 1920’s and 30’s.
The building also has a vintage kitchen, locker room, and hose tower, a fire officer’s office, and more.
2. Mitchell Gallery of Flight
5300 S. Howell Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53207
If you find yourself at the Milwaukee Airport with some time to spend, stop by the Mitchell Gallery of Flight, where you’ll find aviation models and memorabilia, as well as educational information about local planes and famous Midwestern pilots and astronauts.
Families can find direct flights from MKE to several family-friendly destinations including Orlando, Seattle, Atlanta, and more.
3. Model Railroad Club of Milwaukee Inc.
215 E. National Ave. (built into a Canadian Pacific Railway bridge that spans the street)
Hidden gem alert! Built in 1916 by the Milwaukee Road as a bridge station, this location was abandoned and converted into the Railroad Club’s venue in 1936.
It is the longest running model railroad club in the same location in the United States.
Many of the original features are still intact, including subway tile, tin ceiling panels, and some steam heat fixtures. The models inside are built to ¼-inch scale, with some dating back to pre-WWII.
The club is open to visitors the last Sunday afternoon of each month, between about 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. If that day falls on a holiday, or within a four-day weekend, the club is not open, and it is not open during severe weather events in winter.
Call ahead to confirm hours.
4. Latino Arts, Inc.
1028 S. 9th St., Milwaukee, WI 53204
Latino Arts, Inc., located in the heart of Walker’s Point, is the only Wisconsin fine arts insitution dedicated exclusively to showcasing the works of Hispanic and Latinx artists.
You’ll find a gallery space with rotating exhibitions and a concert hall where there are regular community concerts.
Don’t miss their colorful and dynamic Day of the Dead Ofrenda Gallery every Fall from October to November.
5. Cedarburg History Museum
N58W6194 Columbia Rd, Cedarburg, WI 53012
Located in the historic Hilgen & Schroeder Mill Store, the Cedarburg History Museum features permanent installments like the General Store Museum, rotating exhibits, and interactive technology. Current exhibits include the Hometown Teams and Wedding Dresses of Cedarburg.
6. Dinosaur Discovery Museum
5608 Tenth Ave., Kenosha, WI 53140
The Dinosaur Discovery Museum in Kenosha is the only museum to focus on the link between meat-eating dinosaurs and birds.
Tour the main gallery filled with impressive dinosaur skeletons that are casts of actual fossil bones.
Head downstairs to dig for fossils, do dinosaur crafts, and peek into the on-site laboratory. Admission is free (suggested donation of $3 per person).
7. Haggerty Museum of Art
Marquette University Campus
530 N. 13th St.
Milwaukee, WI 53233
Located on the Marquette University campus, this free museum features an impressive permanent collection, an ever-changing array of exhibitions, and a full calendar of free performances, gallery talks, workshops, and more.
Admission is always free, and free parking is nearby.
8. The Warehouse Art Museum
1635 W St Paul Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53233
Located inside a former factory and warehouse built in 1924, The Warehouse features a permanent collection for more than 3,000 modern and contemporary works.
Rotating exhibits in the space shine a spotlight on a variety of multi-media artists, and they also offer performances and lectures throughout the year.
9. Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel
139 E Kilbourn Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202
It’s not exactly a museum, but the impressive lobby and first floor of the Saint Kate Hotel is home to permanent art exhibitions as well as special exhibits and travelings shows. A visit to this downtown gem is full of surprises, and never a disappointment.
Free Admission Days at Milwaukee Museums
Several Milwaukee area museums offer free admission days throughout the year. Read on to learn more about them.
Discounted admission is typically offered during Milwaukee Museum Days.
10. Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
929 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202
The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum is packed with innovative, hands-on learning experiences created especially for kids ages 10 and under.
Families can have fun learning together in the museum’s interactive exhibits, including Home Sweet Home, Let’s Play Railway, Science CITY and Pocket Park (for children age 4 and younger).
Stop by the Be A Maker space for new and fresh creative activities and collaborative projects.
Special programs, sensory friendly sessions, workshops and events are offered throughout the year to spark exploration among children.
Free Admission: The museum offers a free day for all on Community Access Days, which take place on the third Thursday of every month. (Advanced registration required; some restrictions apply.)
11. Milwaukee Public Museum
800 W. Wells St., Milwaukee, WI 53233
The Milwaukee Public Museum, located in downtown Milwaukee, is known for its life-size dioramas, walk-through villages, a live butterfly garden, and the Daniel M. Soref Dome Theater and Planetarium.
There are three floors of exhibits to explore.
One of the most fun things for kids to do at the museum is stroll through the Streets of Old Milwaukee and the European Village, where the old world comes to life.
There is often a special exhibition on the upper level. Check their website before you head out!
Pro Tip: To get the butterflies to land on you in the Butterfly Wing, wear red or orange!
Fun Fact: There are three hidden buttons in the museum. Can you find them all?
Free Admission: ALL visitors* (excluding groups) receive FREE access to the permanent exhibits of MPM on the first Thursday of each month during Kohl’s Thank You Thursday.
12. Milwaukee Art Museum (Free For Kids 12 & Under)
700 N. Art Museum Dr. Milwaukee, WI 53202
The world-class Milwaukee Art Museum is a must-visit for locals and tourist alike.
Make the most of your next museum visit with some tips from our post: “8 Special Things To Do With Kids At The Art Museum“.
Free Admission: The museum is always free for kids 12 and under, and for members. In the past, the Art Museum has offered free admission for all on the first Thursday of each month, however this was not being offered at the time this post was published.
Pro Tip: Don’t miss the Kohl’s Art Studio. Drop-in activities and hands-on art projects are available every day!
13. Harley-Davidson Museum
400 W. Canal St., Milwaukee, WI 53203
The Harley Davidson Museum is a quintessential Milwaukee museum, showcasing bikes and artifacts from one of the city’s most well-known companies.
Pose for a photo with the company founders, see the oldest known Harley-Davidson motorcycle (also known as “Serial Number One”), rev up your engines in the engine room, rummage through discovery drawers filled with vintage toys and trinkets, make your own custom creation at the build-a-bike station, and more.
Free Admission: Free admission is typically offered on “Milwaukee Day” (April 14th).
14. Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum
2220 N Terrace Ave.
Villa Terrace is a gorgeous decorative arts museum situated on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan.
Meander through the gardens, Tuscan columns, and grilled Italian windows as your take in the view. The charming Mercury Courtyard is home to a statue of Mercury, the mythical messenger of the gods.
Free Admission: Children 12 and under are always free. Free admission is offered for all on the first Wednesday of every month.
15. Charles Allis Art Museum
1801 N. Prospect Ave
This small, impressive art museum is located inside a historic mansion that used to belong to Charles and Sarah family. It is home to their personal collection of paintings and international artifacts.
Free Admission: Free to children ages 12 and under, and free for all on the first Wednesday of every month.
16. Jewish Museum Milwaukee
The Jewish Museum Milwaukee showcases exhibition that explore the history of the Jewish community in Southeastern Wisconsin. Keep an eye on their calendar for regular community free days.
Honorable Mention: National Bobblehead Hall Of Fame & Museum ($5 Admission)
170 S. 1st St., 2nd Floor, Milwaukee, WI 53204
For sports fans and those who love quirky destinations, this one-of-a-kind museum houses the world’s largest collection of bobbleheads from all genres and periods.
There are also dozens of exhibits related to the history of bobbleheads, the making of bobbleheads, and more.
Honorable Mention: Grohman Museum ($5 admission)
The Grohmann Museum is home to the world’s most comprehensive art collection dedicated to the evolution of human work. There are over 1700 paintings and sculptures, as well as an impressive rooftop garden with a great view of the city.
Free admission: Children 12 and under are always free.
The city of Milwaukee has a thriving outdoor arts scene, evidenced by the giant murals in Black Cat Alley, the innovative sculptures that make up Sculpture Milwaukee, the art-filled Riverwalk, and impressive murals found all over the city.
You can also take a stroll through the Historic Third Ward, where you can marvel at the stunning works of art in several galleries throughout the neighborhood.
In 2013, Calie Herbst, a former teacher with three little ones, saw a need for a “One Stop Shop” for family fun in Milwaukee. So she founded Milwaukee With Kids. Her goal was to find the best this city has to offer families and share it with other parents. In one place.
In 2019, she published “Exploring Milwaukee WIth Kids”, a comprehensive Milwaukee travel guide for families and kids.
She appears regularly on WISN News, Fox 6’s ‘Real Milwaukee’, B93.3, and Wisconsin Morning News. She has been featured in Medium, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NPR, the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, and on CBS 58 News.
Calie is available for hosting, moderating and media appearances.