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13 Ways to Get Discounted and Free Admission to Columbus Museums, Performances and Cultural Institutions

This list of ticket discounts and free museum admission will help you do some of the best things in Columbus for free or for cheap!

There are so many great things to do in Columbus! Culture is just outside our doors, but it can cost a pretty penny! I’ve put together this list of discounts on tickets, free museum days and special deals at Columbus’s most popular cultural institutions to help you have these great experiences without breaking the bank!

As things are always changing, please check the websites provided for the most up-to-date information before you visit!

1. Culture Pass at Columbus Metropolitan Libraries

Culture Passes can be checked out at each Columbus Metropolitan Library location. Availability is determined by the community each library serves. They are only available for in-person checkout. You can check the website for availability before visiting.

The Culture Pass is a one-time pass and it offers free admission to a participating organization when checked out with your library card.

At the time of writing, the following Central Ohio organizations are participating:

  • BalletMet
  • CAPA
  • Columbus Children’s Theatre
  • Columbus Clippers
  • Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus
  • Columbus Museum of Art
  • Columbus Symphony
  • Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
  • Dawes Arboretum
  • Franklin Park Conservatory
  • National Veterans Memorial and Museum
  • Ohio History Center
  • Pizzuti Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art
  • ProMusica

2. Pay What You Want at BalletMet

BalletMet offers the option to “pay what you want” for select performances. Check the website for upcoming performances where this is an option. These tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis and they can only be purchased at the box office on the day you want to attend. The box office opens 2 hours before show time.

3. Friday Dress Rehearsals at Columbus Symphony Orchestra

Guests can attend select dress rehearsals of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra on Friday mornings. The discounted ticket is usually around $14 and includes donuts and coffee in the lobby beforehand! These tickets can be purchased online ahead of time. The dress rehearsals take place at Ohio Theatre and may include stops and starts as the musicians work through the music.

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra Friday Dress Rehearsal at Ohio Theatre.
Columbus Symphony Friday Dress Rehearsal

4. Columbus Member Advantage

The Columbus Member Advantage program offers members of local organizations $3 off general admission to other local institutions by showing their participating membership card.

2024 partners include:

  • Columbus Metropolitan Club
  • Columbus Museum of Art and Pizzuti Collection
  • Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
  • Dawes Arboretum
  • Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
  • LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Columbus
  • National Veterans Memorial and Museum
  • Ohio History Center & Ohio Village
  • Wexner Center for the Arts ($2 off any film)
  • The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art and Technology

5. Museums for All

Through the Museums for All program, guests receiving SNAP benefits (food assistance) can receive free or reduced admission to museums around the country. Present your EBT card and photo ID to take advantage of this opportunity!

Start with the website linked above to find the museum you are interested in visiting and then navigate to that museum’s page to find out what discount each museum offers.

Columbus participants include:

  • COSI
  • Central Ohio Fire Museum
  • National Veterans Memorial and Museum
  • Columbus Museum of Art
  • Franklin Park Conservatory
  • Ohio History Center & Ohio Village
  • Orton Geological Museum (free to visit anytime)
  • Wexner Center for the Arts (free to visit anytime)
A fire truck display inside the Central Ohio Fire Museum in Downtown Columbus.
Central Ohio Fire Museum

6. Family Access Memberships

Some museums in Columbus offer Family Access Memberships which offer a significant discount for families who participate in Medicaid, WIC or SNAP.

In order to purchase this membership, guests must show proof of Medicaid, Ohio Directions, WIC, SNAP or EBT. These memberships can often be purchased online and you can email your proof of participation to the museum. Or you can choose to purchase this membership in person at the participating institution.

Columbus museums with Access Memberships (click each name to be taken to more info):

7. Pay-What-You-Want at The Contemporary Theatre of Ohio

The Contemporary Theatre of Ohio offers PWYW tickets for preview performances of every production. You can choose how much you pay for a single ticket. (Minimum cost is $1 plus an Arts and Culture fee of 5%). Service and credit card fees will be added to your order over the phone, or you can purchase in person at the CAPA ticket office or at the theatre up to two hours before the performance.

8. Rush Tickets at Broadway in Columbus

Rush tickets are unsold seats that are offered at a discount for Broadway shows! These tickets are available in person only at the Ohio Theatre box office beginning 2 hours before the performance. The limit is 2 tickets per person and is subject to availability.

These discounted Broadway tickets are not available for every show. Broadway in Columbus will announce when Rush Tickets are available on their Facebook Page (which I’ve linked above) about a week in advance.

9. Free Sundays at Columbus Museum of Art

Admission is free for everyone at the Columbus Museum of Art every Sunday! Sunday hours are 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Check out my list of art museums in Columbus for more to visit!

The lobby of the Columbus Museum of Art which is free on Sundays.
Columbus Museum of Art

10. Free Admission to the Columbus Museum of Art at The Pizzuti

Guests who spend $5 or more in the Short North Arts District within 24 hours can show their receipt for complimentary admission to the Columbus Museum of Art at The Pizzuti.

11. Community Day at Franklin Park Conservatory

Admission is free to Franklin Park Conservatory for residents of Columbus and Franklin County on the first Sunday of every month. Community Days usually feature special programming!

You must show your proof of residency/ID for free admission on this special day. Sunday hours are generally 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Your admission also includes the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden.

Entry way to Franklin Park Conservatory lined with hanging baskets.
Community Day is Free at Franklin Park Conservatory

12. Free Admission to the National Veterans Memorial and Museum

Admission is free to the National Veterans Memorial and Museum for U.S. military Veterans, active-duty military members and Gold Star Families. Show your Veteran ID, military ID, DD214 or driver’s license with military status when visiting.

Outside of the National Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus, Ohio.
National Veterans Memorial and Museum

13. Memberships

If you enjoy a particular museum or cultural institution and want to visit frequently, memberships offer the most bang for your buck! While it might not be “cheap” up front, most memberships pay for themselves after two visits, making each subsequent visit free after that! You can read about our favorite Columbus memberships to compare and contrast the benefits!

Take advantage of these free and discounted tickets in Columbus to get out and explore our great city!

Need more ideas? Check out Free Things to do this Summer in Columbus, Free Things to do this Winter in Columbus or 10 Free Indoor Activities for Kids in Columbus!

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