Access to culture shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, or even an ear. Many Bay Area museums follow the enlightened practice of waiving admission for one day every month—sometimes more often. And a handful are always free.
First, take a look soon at Berkeley’s on-the-street Addison Street Window Gallery, always free and on view any time, day or night, from the sidewalk at 2018 Addison Street, between Shattuck and Milvia. Until August 25, there’s a special exhibit, “Art for Humanity,” organized by Evelyn Glaubman of Berkeley City College with city college alumni, featuring paintings inspired by the U.N.’s Millenium Development Goals.
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive: First Thursday of the month, including 5:30 p.m. PFA screening; always free to UC Berkeley students, faculty, and staff. 2626 Bancroft Way. 642-0808, www.bampfa.berkeley.edu.
Berkeley Historical Society History Center: (permanent and rotating exhibits on local history) Free every day. Thursday through Saturday, 1-4 p.m. Veterans Memorial Building, 1931 Center St. 848-0181, www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/histsoc.
Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology: Free every day; docent tours $5 adults, $2 children. Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sunday 12 pm-4 p.m. 102 Kroeber Hall (corner of Bancroft and College). (510) 642-3682, hearstmuseum.berkeley.edu.
Oakland Museum of California: Second Sunday of the month. Fee required for special exhibits. 100 Oak St., Oakland. 238-2200, www.museumca.org.
Mills College Art Museum: Free every day, hours vary, closed Monday. 5000 MacArthur Boulevard, Oakland. 430-2164,
Richmond Museum of History: Free every day, Wednesday through Sunday, 1-4 p.m. 400 Nevin Ave., Richmond. 235-7387, www.richmondmuseumofhistory.org.
Golden State Model Railroad Museum: Free Saturday and Sunday noon-5 p.m., Wednesday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (open April-December; trains run Sunday only). 900-A Dornan Drive, Point Richmond. 234-4484, www.gsmrm.org.
Alameda Museum: Free every day (donations encouraged). Wednesday-Sunday, hours vary. 2324 Alameda Ave. near Park Street, Alameda. 521-1233, www.alamedamuseum.org.
Hayward Area Historical Society Downtown Museum: Free every day. 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday. 22701 Main St., Hayward. 581-0223, www.haywardareahistory.org/downtownmuseum.asp.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: First Tuesday of the month, 11 a.m.-5:45 p.m. after Labor Day. 151 Third St. between Mission and Howard, San Francisco. (415)357-4000, www.sfmoma.org.
California Academy of Sciences: First Wednesday of the month, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 875 Howard St. between Fourth and Fifth, San Francisco. 321-8000, www.calacademy.org.
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco: First Tuesday of the month, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 200 Larkin Street between Fulton and McAllister, San Francisco. (415)581-3500, www.asianart.org.
De Young Museum: First Tuesday of the month. Fee required for special exhibits. 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. (415) 750-3600, www.thinker.org/deyoung.
Legion of Honor: First Tuesday of the month.Fee required for special exhibits. Lincoln Park, 34th Avenue and Clement Street, San Francisco. (415) 863-3330, www.thinker.org/legion.
Exploratorium: First Wednesday of the month (reservations required for groups of 10 or more), 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 3601 Lyon Street, San Francisco. (415) 561-0399, www.exploratorium.edu.