If you’re into science or engineering, you can explore space at planetariums galore. Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, the Western Hemisphere’s first, is on the list along with facilities in Michigan, New York, Texas and more.
Are animals your thing? You’re in luck: Highlights include the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium in New Orleans, where visitors cozy up with bugs, and the Estuarium at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Dauphin Island, Ala., where visitors can touch stingrays and learn about salt marshes.
If you’re more into your fellow humans, you have options, too. A wide assortment of institutions cover anthropology, medicine and more. Try the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago, Egan Maritime Institute’s Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum in Nantucket, Mass., or the National Museum of Psychology in Akron, Ohio.
Big-name museums are on the list. But smaller, more niche ones are a major feature of the event. And the list of participating institutions can give you ideas for future visits, too.
Visit Smithsonianmag.com/museumday to get a ticket. The website has a search function and a place to get your free tickets, which provide general admission for the holder and one guest.
Each email address can download only one ticket, so choose wisely — and get ready to immerse yourself in a museum you may not have even known existed.