If you missed Free Museum Day on Feb. 2, fear not! Although Free Museum Day 2020 is about 11 months away, Sacramento’s day-to-day museum list is actually stacked with free and discounted museums. Learn about California’s earliest inhabitants, revisit the Gold Rush era, view ancient art along with modern art—all in (and around) our city of Sacramento.
Free Admission Museums
Capitol Building 10th & L St., Sacramento
Hours: Weekdays, 7:30 a.m.–6 p.m.; Weekends, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Thought of as a “living museum,” witness government employees and lobbyists line the hallways, as the museum section of the building takes you through a beautiful recollection of America’s political history.
California State Library 914 Capitol Mall, Sacramento
Hours: Weekdays, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Although you must be a California state government official or employee to borrow anything from this library, the library itself, which doubles as a California History Museum, is open to the general public.
California Statewide Museum Collections Center 4940 Lang Ave., McClellan
Hours: Tuesdays, 1–4 p.m.
This is the place to go to see more than 1 million historical artifacts from California State Parks. Hours are limited!
Don & June Salvatori California Pharmacy Museum 4030 Lennane Drive, Natomas
Hours: Monday–Friday, by appointment
See how far California’s pharmaceutical industry has come in the past 170 years and where it is headed.
Locke Boarding House Museum 13916 Main St., Locke
Hours: Tuesday & Friday, Noon–4 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
A bit of a drive but highly recommended while on a day trip along the Delta. See my 2017 article for Submerge on Locke: “Hometown Tourist,” which you can find at Submergemag.com.
Museum of Medical History 5380 Elvas Ave., Sacramento
Hours: Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Similar to the pharmaceutical museum, learn about the history of medicine in California since the Gold Rush and perhaps get a wee bit creeped out by “modern” medicine.
Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum 1200 Front St., Old Sacramento
Hours: Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; Sunday, noon–4 p.m.
Costumed “teachers” describe a typical school day in this 1800s replicated schoolhouse.
Old Sacramento State Historic Park Front & I St., Old Sacramento
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
From a Pony Express postal system to a transcontinental railroad and telegraph, this state park includes a handful of historical buildings still in place.
Sacramento Historic City Cemetery Enter on Broadway at 10th St., Sacramento
Hours: Daily, 7 a.m.–7 p.m.
Statues, gardens and lantern-lit night tours.
Sojourner Truth African American Museum 2251 Florin Road, South Sacramento
Hours: Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.– 5 p.m.
An art museum in honor of Sojourner Truth: abolitionist, civil and women’s rights activist. Find art from all over the world along with programs and events for both kids and adults.
Wells Fargo Museum (two locations)
400 Capitol Mall, Sacramento
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
1000 Second St., Sacramento
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.– 5 p.m.
Wells Fargo has been through a lot; they even had a stagecoach.
If you are a resident of Sacramento and have yet to become a member of the Sacramento Public Library, you are missing out. Members of the library receive tickets to the following museums for free or at a discounted rate.
Sacramento Library Discounted Museums
California Automobile Museum (free with library card) 2200 Front St. Sacramento
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.– 5 p.m. (CLOSED Tuesday)
Pretty straightforward explanation here; if you’re into cars, check this place out.
California State Railroad Museum (half-price admission with library card) 125 I St., Sacramento
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
A beautiful building hosting a wide range of knowledge regarding California’s rail system.
Crocker Art Museum Events: Artful Tot, Baby Loves Art and Wee Wednesday (free with library card) 216 O St., Sacramento
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m.– 9 p.m.
Take your little ones to hang out with other little ones! On a side note, have you been to ArtMix at the Crocker? I highly recommend.
Folsom History Museum (free with library card) 823 Sutter St., Folsom
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
Getting real close to where the actual gold mining took place. Dig deep in the history of Folsom’s Gold Rush.
Powerhouse Science Center (free with library card) 3615 Auburn Blvd., Sacramento
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Bringing science to life—a beautiful way to learn more about science as a child and adult.
To see a list of all museums in Sacramento, visit Sacmuseums.org.