Museums in major cities often will welcome visitors for free at the tail-end of the day (especially on days when business tends to be slower). In some cases, this means the museum will be, ironically, packed with people—like NYC’s MoMA on Friday nights. For the sake of artistic enjoyment and appreciation, most museums will at least offer a discount at some point during the week—or use the term ‘recommended donation’ instead of ‘admission fee.’ Here are some tips for when to go to some of Toronto‘s best museums.
The MOCCA (Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art): Original and often mind-bending, the MOCCA is technically ‘pay what you can’ Tuesdays through Sundays from 11am–6pm. Current exhibitions include The Shape of Things with 1960’s works and Matter as Subject, which features local Toronto artists.
Art Gallery of Ontario (Musée des beaux-arts de l’Ontario): The Permanent Collection has free entry on Wednesdays from 6–8:30pm. The AGO currently has exhibitions on Picasso, Revolutionary Russia, Iain Baxter, and others. A Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting exhibition is coming mid-October, 2012.
The Bata Shoe Museum: Thursday evenings from 5–8pm are ‘pay what you can.’ This museum is truly one-of-a-kind and includes hundreds of pieces of footwear that are historical, wacky, or famous. You’ll never look at your own shoes the same again!
Textile Museum of Canada: Normal admission is $15, but on Wednesdays from 5–8pm, the TMC is ‘pay what you can.’ This place has more than just your average cloth—in fact, it has 2,000 years’ worth of artifacts, garments, and ceremonial pieces from all around the world.
The ROM (Royal Ontario Museum): The window of time is small for a museum this size, but you can get in for half-price on Fridays after 4:30pm (the regular rates used to be $24, but they’ve since dropped to $15). The ROM has six million objects and covers practically everything from natural history to international cultures.
Also, Doors Open Toronto, an annual, weekend-long cultural celebration, allows guests to enter well over 100 historical and cultural buildings for free during the festival (May 25–26 in 2013). Among the numerous locations are cemeteries, factories, mansions and breweries, some of them not normally open to the public at all.