Experience New Jersey’s cultural institutions—for free. In honor of Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day, select centers will allow patrons access at no cost. Just present a Museum Day ticket at these participating Garden State centers.
Note: Participants are only allowed to download one ticket per email address. The ticket provides free general admission for two people.
About: The American Labor Museum is housed in the Botto House, built for and owned by Italian immigrant and silk mill worker, Pietro Botto and his wife Maria. In 1913, labor union organizers addressed an estimated 20,000 silk mill workers, who were on strike.
What to See: The permanent exhibit “1913 Paterson Silk Strike,” featuring historic photographs of workplace conditions, wage scales, picket lines and more.
About: From Jean Pierre Blanchard’s 1793 balloon flight from Philadelphia to Depford to the accomplishments of Jersey-bred astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly, this center showcases the Garden State’s aerospace heritage.
What to See: The first American hovercraft invented by Charles Fletcher, an interactive aerodynamics exhibit, and plenty of historic aircraft, engines, air and space artifacts.
About: The Cooper Gristmill, one of the last of its kind in the state, shows NJ’s economic transition from agriculture to industry.
What to See: Actors dressed in period clothing bring centuries of history to life through storytelling about the mill, built by Nathan Cooper in 1826.
About: On the Historic National Register, the home was built in 1741 for Cornelius Low, a wealthy merchant of Raritan Landing.
What to See: The exhibit “Mid-Century New Jersey: The Garden State in the 1950s,” is on view through June 28, 2020.
Closed Saturday; ticket valid Sunday, Sept 22.
About: The mansion served as General George Washington’s Headquarters during the summer and fall of 1780.
What to See: The artifact collection ranges from prints and decorative arts to farming tools and firearms.
About: The village is comprised of sixteen reconstructed and replica 18th- and 19th- century structures that represent architecture typical of farm and merchant communities once found in the Raritan Valley.
What to See: A blacksmith shop, schoolhouse, church and homes of early settlers. Explore and meet historical interpreters.
Closed Saturday; ticket valid Sunday, Sept 22.
About: Experience farm life as it was more than 100 years ago at this 213-acre New Jersey and National Register Historic Site.
What to See: Visit the farm animals, witness the farmer using antique machinery, and help perform daily tasks, such as collecting eggs and grinding corn. Tour the interactive transportation exhibit filled with antique automobiles.
About: This 18th Century Dutch homestead, was once the residence of the Van Wagoner and Hamilton families.
What to See: The six rooms that depict different periods invite you to
walk in the footsteps of history.
About: The mansion has furnishing from the time period that inventor and politician Hezekiah B. Smith resided at Smithville.
What to See: View historically decorated rooms and hear the fascinating history of Smithville.
Closed Saturday; ticket valid Sunday, Sept 22
About: This seven-acre National Historic Landmark includes the Factory Building, better known as the birthplace of the telegraph, which is now an interactive telecommunications museum.
What to See: Historic Speedwell has several 18th century buildings. The park across the street has the remains of the ironworks, a waterfall, and a lake with a walking trail.
About: The Historical Society of Princeton headquarters is at Updike Farmstead. The society preserves and shares Princeton’s stories.
What to See: In the farmhouse, you’ll find the Einstein Salon. Photographs, documents and other material explain Einstein’s time in Princeton from 1933 to 1955. Outdoors, there is a history trail and garden.
About: The Hunterdon Art Museum presents changing exhibitions of contemporary art, craft and design in a 19th century stone mill listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
About: The museum promotes the legacy of John F. Peto, an internationally renowned artist, by maintaining his home and studio.
What to see: “Trompe l’oeil Meets Photorealism” compares the work of John F. Peto, recognized as a master of trompe l’oeil or the “fool the eye” school of still life painting, with contemporary artists, on view from September 21 through December 15.
Kean University, Union
About: Embark on a tour inside the home of New Jersey’s first elected governor, William Livingston. The 50-room Victorian mansion contains artifacts from the Livingston/Kean family, who called the property home until 1995.
What to See: “History in a Bottle” showcases bottles and demijohns found in 2015 in a long-forgotten cellar. Collected over the course of 200 years, the newly discovered bottles included Madeira, port, Bordeaux wine, Jamaican rum and scotch that date to the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as Civil War-era bourbon.
About: Long Pond Ironworks was founded in 1766 and operated continually until 1882, making iron for a wide range of purposes.
What to See: The ruins of three furnaces and other unique structures remain. The 175-acre Long Pond Ironworks Historic District is an example of the ironworks plantations established in the American Colonies.
About: Situated on the Brookdale Community College campus, this center is one of the largest private museums in New Jersey, with an annual attendance exceeding 50,000.
What to See: The “Juried Photography Exhibition,” on view through November 10.
About: In 1913, Aldus Pierson, the Morristown Neighborhood House’s first head worker, displayed cultural artifacts that she had acquired from friends in their travels around the world. By 1927, the Morris Museum Collection had expanded to seven rooms. Since 1986, the institution has also boasted the 300-seat Bickford Theatre presents dramas, comedies, thrillers, musicals, a children’s series and a jazz showcase.
What to See: The Murtogh D. Guinness Collection is a wing that displays 150 antique mechanical musical instruments and moving figures—known as automata—from the late 16th through early 20th centuries. Also of note, “Aerosol: Graffiti | Street Art | New Jersey | Now,” co-curated by Trenton graffiti artist Will Kasso Condry, celebrates Jersey’s graffiti scene through 12 works painted directly on the museum’s walls.
About: Home to five New Jersey governors, Morven was built by Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, in the 1750s.
What to See: See the permanent exhibit “Historic Morven: A Window Into America’s Past.” Through Oct 27, view “New Jersey Baseball: From the Cradle to the Major Leagues, 1855– 1915,” which showcases the state’s role in the history of early organized baseball, including the first New Jersey baseball clubs, the African-American experience, women’s participation and more.
About: In 1970, Agnes and Edgar Law Land founded the museum by donating their personal collection of hand tools and artifacts of the pre-industrial age.
What to See: The collection consists of more than 8,800 artifacts related to 21 different trades. Open through January 5, “Sweet Treats: Desserts & Delicacies from the Garden State.”
About: This museum opened in 1895 with a collection of natural-history specimens from the 19th century, but has since grown to house areas for archaeology, ethnology, decorative arts, fine arts and more. There’s also a planetarium.
What to See: The exhibition “Many Inspired Steps” celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, which occurred on July 20, 1969. Among the artifacts on view through November 10: an astronaut glove mold created at the Trenton based General Porcelain Manufacturing Company.
About: The state’s largest museum showcases an impressive collection of American, Asian and classical art. Founded in 1909 by John Cotton Dana, the museum continues to bring the best in arts and sciences to the state. The adjoining Ballantine House is a trip back to the Victorian era and also a National Historic Landmark.
What to See: Portraits of homegrown artists ranging from Bruce Springsteen to John Travolta to Ice-T will be featured in the Museum’s latest exhibition, “What Exit? The New Jersey Spirit: Photographs by Timothy White,” on view through January 5.
About: The Arts Garage houses artist studios, galleries, shops, a café, a flexible workshop/classroom and hosts special events throughout the year. It includes a 1,200 square ft. satellite gallery of The Noyes Museum of Art of Stockton University and the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey.
About: Ethel and Fred W. Noyes, Jr. are best known as the developers of Historic Smithville and the founders and chief benefactors of The Noyes Museum of Art.
What to See: “100 Faces of War,” a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian, presents the stories of those who served the US in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. “Jenson Cheng: Aesthetics and Meanings” features the work of the Taiwanese-born Asian American sculptor, painter, designer, craftsman, and educator.
About: Built before the Revolutionary War, the barracks housed British and Hessian soldiers when it fell to General George Washington after the Continental Army’s Christmas Eve 1776 crossing of the Delaware.
What to See: Restored and partially reconstructed, the museum features costumed reenactors who depict military and civilian life in the Revolutionary era.
About: The house was built in 1810 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. It provides a rotating gallery space for both established and emerging artists.
The College of New Jersey, Ewing
About: The collection is named in honor of David Sarnoff, longtime chairman of the Radio Corporation of America and pioneer in radio and television. The collection comprises more than 6,000 artifacts that document major 20th-century developments in communication and electronics.
About: This museum tells the story of golf in America, with artifacts like President William H. Taft’s extra-long putter and the six-iron with which astronaut Alan B. Shepard hit balls “miles and miles and miles” on the moon.
About: This is one of the oldest buildings in Passaic County. Built in 1720, it was the original home of Gilbert Vanderhoef, owner and operator of the only working flour and gristmill in the area at that time.
About: WheatonArts is a cluster of buildings spread across 45 wooded acres that were once at the center of the nation’s earliest glass industry.
What to See: The beautifully curated Museum of American Glass, interactive artist studios, and gift shops featuring locally made art pieces.
Rutgers University, New Brunswick
About: Founded in 1966 as the Rutgers University Art Gallery, the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum was established in 1983. The museum is headquartered in a 70,000-square-foot facility and has a collection of 60,000 objects ranging from ancient to contemporary art.
What to See: The Zimmerli’s Russian and Soviet nonconformist art holdings contain over 22,000 objects. “Women Artists on the Leading Edge: Celebrating Douglass College at 100,” on view thorough January 11, celebrates the achievements of Douglass’s alumnae and faculty, among them Alice Aycock, Joan Snyder, Mimi Smith, Bonnie Lucas, and Joan Semmel.