An economic recession doesn't mean you have to repress your craving for NYC culture. Some of the City's most inspiring museums slash admission prices every weekend, making them cheap or even free to visit—which means an eyeful of artwork won't cost you a penny.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum normally has a pay-what-you-wish policy for guests on Fridays from 5:45pm to 7:45pm. Just be sure to leave yourself ample time—the last tickets are issued at 7:15pm, and with so much to see here (from special exhibitions to the Vasily Kandinsky collection to the architecture of the spiral building itself), you'll want to be first in line. The Whitney Museum of American Art also allows guests to pay what they wish on Fridays from 6pm to 9pm—so visitors can contribute whatever they can while still enjoying the museum's ongoing contribution to the City.
In Midtown, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) hosts its popular Target Free Friday Nights, which offers free admission for all visitors from 4pm to 8pm (the last entry is at 7:30pm). And right next door, the American Folk Art Museum is also free on Fridays, here from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. But since there's so much to take in at these two neighboring museums, you'll probably want to make the trips on two separate Fridays.
On the first Saturday of each month, head to the Brooklyn Museum for Target First Saturdays. From 5pm to 11pm, guests can take advantage of an array of special programs—including a book club, performances, discussions, lectures, art classes, dance parties and more—in addition to access to the entire museum. Check out brooklynmuseum.org for the schedule, which changes every month. And when Sunday rolls around, head to the Museum of the City of New York for free admission from 10am to noon.
You can spend an entire weekend exploring New York City's unmatched cultural institutions at zero-to-almost-no cost. Save even more dough by packing a picnic and lunching in Central Park. Can you think of a more perfect (and wallet-friendly) NYC summer day?