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Featuring: Toronto’s Free-to-Enjoy Museums

Toronto's Free-to-Enjoy Museums

Featuring: Toronto’s Free-to-Enjoy Museums

In today's world, it can feel like you're getting charged for every little thing, even just taking a breath. But when you're planning a trip, it's good to know there are ways to enjoy a cultural adventure without breaking the bank.

Believe it or not, there are fantastic museums in Toronto where admission won't cost you a dime. Check out our favourite ones where you can explore without spending a penny!

Featuring: Toronto's Free-to-Enjoy Museums

Bata Shoe Museum

Website

Address: 327 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1W7, Canada

Hours:

  • Monday to Saturday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Sunday 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Offering free admission on Sundays, The Bata Shoe Museum is entirely dedicated to the study of footwear and boasts a remarkable catalogue with items dating back to the mid-1940s, making it one of the world’s largest shoe museums.

They have an assortment of over 14,000 shoes and related items from various cultures and eras featuring Egyptian sandals, Chinese bound footshoes, European high-fashion heels, and even cutting-edge designer creations. 

Pro Tip:

If you weren’t able to see everything on display or just want another glimpse of the highlighted items, don’t worry! You can easily schedule online exhibits through their website. 

Colborne Lodge

From: @tohistorymuseums

Website

Address: 11 Colborne Lodge Dr, Toronto, ON, Canada

Hours:

  • Wednesday to Sunday: 11:00 AM –  4:00 PM

This charming heritage home, built by John and Jemima Howard in 1837, pays homage to Sir John Colborne, the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada at the time. 

With its steep gables, pointed windows, and inviting veranda, the lodge captures the essence of 19th-century rural life in the region. Inside, you’ll discover the Howard family’s legacy–original art, architectural drawings, invention blueprints, and life stories.

In collaboration with First Story Toronto, their tour is guided by Indigenous escorts who are eager to tell you about their perspectives and experiences of the city.

Pro Tip:

Colborne Lodge is the place to be for a buzzing community scene in High Park! They’ve got cottage and garden tours, special events, workshops, and a whole lot more so make sure to keep an eye out for announcements.

Fort York National Historic Site

From: @tohistorymuseums

Website

Address: 250 Fort York Blvd, Toronto, ON M5V 3K9, Canada

Hours:

  • Wednesday to Sunday: 11:00 AM –  4:00 PM

Guess what? You can explore the birthplace of urban Toronto, and it won’t cost you a dime! Fort York, established in 1793 and a key defender of Canada during the War of 1812, has transformed into a beautifully preserved national historic site.

You’ll get to check out well-kept military structures, from barracks to blockhouses and officer’s quarters, giving you a firsthand look into the everyday lives of soldiers who were stationed at Fort York.

Plus, you can check out their engaging exhibits that unfold the gripping events of the War of 1812, shedding light on the site’s strategic significance and its role in shaping the development of Toronto.

Pro Tip:

Until January 7, 2024, the Fort York Visitor Centre will be showcasing Transforming Grief: Loss & Togetherness in COVID-19. 

This special exhibition is also free to attend and offers everyone in the city a chance to pause and reflect on the impact of the recent pandemic. 

Gibson House Museum

Website

Address: 5172 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M2N 5P6, Canada

Hours:

  • Wednesday to Sunday: 11:00 AM –  4:00 PM

The Gibson House Museum is a loving tribute to David Gibson, a Scottish immigrant, land surveyor, farmer, politician, and 1820s rebel who left an indelible mark on Toronto’s story.

This charming red brick Georgian Revival farmhouse isn’t your typical museum experience; it’s a peek into the life of an early Toronto settler family. Here, you won’t just observe; you’ll get to feel, smell, and truly immerse yourself in the past.

Pro Tip:

The Gibson House Museum is only accessible via Gibson House Lane, from southbound Yonge Street, and has limited parking. We suggest taking the TTC or walking if you’re nearby.

Mackenzie House

From: @tohistorymuseums

Website

Address: 82 Bond St, Toronto, ON M5B 1X2, Canada

Hours:

  • Wednesday to Sunday: 11:00 AM –  4:00 PM

Nestled in downtown Toronto, Mackenzie House is a hidden gem that has witnessed history unfold. This was once the home of William Lyon Mackenzie, Toronto’s first mayor and leader of the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion.

This is the perfect spot for history buffs, students, or anyone curious about Toronto’s early political landscape. There are rooms adorned with period furniture, and even a replica of Mackenzie’s print shop, showcasing his role as a newspaper publisher. 

Pro Tip:

The Mackenzie House also offers drop-in workshops in the print shop, if you’re interested to learn how newspapers were produced in the 1800s.

From: @tohistorymuseums

Website

Address: 95 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E 1C2, Canada

Hours:

  • Wednesday to Sunday: 11:00 AM –  4:00 PM

Housed within Toronto’s iconic St. Lawrence Market, The Market Gallery is more than just a space; it’s a free-for-all cultural hub with a heart for the city’s rich history and diverse heritage. 

What sets it apart is its dedication to community engagement and the spotlight it shines on stories that often go unnoticed or overlooked. The gallery also collaborates with local artists, historians, and community groups.

Pro Tip:

A large majority of TO’s extensive art collection of more than 2,000 moveable works of art, including paintings, sculptures, watercolours, prints and drawings are displayed in this museum!

Montgomery’s Inn

From: @toronto_past

Website

Address: 4709 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M9A 1A8, Canada

Hours:

  • Wednesday to Sunday: 11:00 AM –  4:00 PM

Dating back to the 1830s, Montgomery’s Inn is a historic gem that continues to be a lively hub for community gatherings to this day. 

With a fully functional kitchen and bar, you’ll get to enjoy pub nights, ghost stories, live music, and a lot of dancing–all under one roof!

Make sure to head to their Tea Room for period-inspired refreshments and a cosy, historical ambiance. Plus, don’t miss the seasonal farmers’ market for a chance to connect with local farmers and artisans.

Pro Tip:

Montgomery’s Inn also offers a free 30-minute guided tour of the house every day at 1:00 PM. 

Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)

Website

Address: 100 Queens Park, Toronto, ON M5S 2C6, Canada

Hours:

  • Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00 AM –  5:30 PM

Of course, we can’t not mention the Royal Ontario Museum, which we fondly call “ROM”. This world-class museum of art, world culture, and natural history is one of the largest museums in North America and the largest in Canada.

The museum is housed in a stunning building that combines a historic Neo-Byzantine structure with a modern glass-and-steel Crystal addition designed by Daniel Libeskind. Inside, you’ll get to explore around 13 million objects, 40 galleries, and exhibits.

Tickets usually cost around $26, but admission is free on the third Tuesday night of every month, from 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM!

Pro Tip:

If you own a CityPASS, you can select ROM as one of your chosen attractions and enter free of charge within nine consecutive days starting with and including the first day you visit one of your chosen spots.

Scarborough Museum

From: @tohistorymuseums

Website

Address: 1007 Brimley Rd, Toronto, ON M1P 3E8, Canada

Hours:

  • Wednesday to Sunday: 11:00 AM –  4:00 PM

Scarborough Museum is made up of four buildings in the heart of Thomson Memorial Park, all dedicated to the story of Scarborough’s rich history and culture from the earliest days of Indigenous habitation to the present day.

With a collection featuring artefacts, documents, and photographs, the museum beautifully unfolds the stories of Scarborough’s farmers, merchants, factory workers, immigrants, and refugees. 

Pro Tip:

If you can, plan your visit around one of the museum’s special events, such as their artist mentorship sessions and yoga workshops. Check their events calendar to know more.

Spadina Museum

From: @tohistorymuseums

Website

Address: 285 Spadina Rd, Toronto, ON M5R 2V5, Canada

Hours:

  • Wednesday to Sunday: 11:00 AM –  4:00 PM

Spadina Museum is a restored Edwardian mansion that was built in the early 1800s and was once the home of the Austin family, a rich and prominent Toronto family. 

The interior is furnished with items from the Austin family’s original collection, reflecting the opulence and style of the time. 

Visitors can explore various rooms, including the elegant reception rooms, the drawing room, the dining room, the bedrooms, and even their servants’ quarters.

Pro Tip:

Take note that visiting the historic house is by guided tour only. There are free guided tours every hour from 12:15 PM to 3:00 PM from Wednesday to Friday, and 11:15 AM to 3:00 PM on Saturdays and Sundays.

Zion Schoolhouse

From: @umberene

Website

Address: 1091 Finch Ave E, North York, ON M2J 2X3, Canada

Hours:

  • Wednesday to Sunday: 11:00 AM –  4:00 PM

Zion Schoolhouse is a historic schoolhouse built in 1869 by the farming families of the rural community known as L’Amoreaux. It was operational until 1955 and is one of the oldest remaining schoolhouses in TO.

What makes this spot special is it’s a one-room schoolhouse, which means that all of the students from grades 1 to 8 were taught in the same room by the same teacher. 

When you visit, you’ll get to closely observe the desks, chairs, and teaching materials that were part of the daily routine over 100 years ago. Isn’t that so cool?

Pro Tip:

Zion Schoolhouse also hosts private bookings and special events! Now you know what to do if you want to have the coolest party in the neighbourhood. *wink*

Website

Address: 317 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M5T 1G4, Canada

Hours:

  • Tuesday and Thursday: 10:30 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Wednesday and Friday:  10:30 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Saturday and Sunday: 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is one of the biggest and most comprehensive art museums in all of North America. They have an impressive collection of over 90,000 artworks, mainly from talented Canadian artists. 

They also showcase masterpieces from legends like Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Vincent van Gogh! And good news for our young art enthusiasts: if you’re 25 or under, you get in to check out the museum’s exhibits for free!

For the general public, free admission is every Wednesday night from 6 PM to 9 PM. Just remember to book your spot online every Monday to secure your slot. 

Pro Tip:

The museum and its collection are massive, so make sure to free up your whole day to be able to explore all the different exhibits.

Gardiner Museum

Website

Address: 111 Queens Park, Toronto, ON M5S 2C7, Canada

Hours:

  • Monday and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

The Gardiner Museum, founded by George and Helen Gardiner in 1984, is dedicated to the collection, preservation, and exhibition of ceramic art. It currently houses over 4,000 unique works. 

It started with their personal collection of ancient American artefacts and European pottery and porcelain. The museum was originally under the Royal Ontario Museum from 1987 to 1996 but is now independent.

General admission is free every Wednesday after 4 PM, but the museum is always free for all students with valid IDs, youth under 18, and Indigenous Peoples.

Pro Tip:

On regular admission days, visitors can also get 20% off with their Presto card.

Aga Khan Museum

Website

Address: 77 Wynford Dr, North York, ON M3C 1K1, Canada

Hours:

  • Tuesday, Thursday to Sunday: 11:00 AM –  5:30 PM
  • Wednesday 11:00 AM –  8:00 PM

The Aga Khan Museum is a cultural institution dedicated to the presentation and preservation of Islamic art, heritage, and culture. 

As one of North America’s largest and most comprehensive museums dedicated to Islamic art, it houses over 11,000 captivating pieces dating from the 7th to the 19th centuries – from manuscripts and ceramics to textiles and paintings.

Admission is free every Wednesday, from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Pro Tip:

For the complete experience, grab lunch or dinner at the museum’s restaurant, Diwan. It overlooks the museum’s courtyard and specialises in modern Middle Eastern cuisine.

Website

Address: 231 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5J 2G8, Canada

Hours:

  • Wednesday to Sunday: 11:00 AM –  6:00 PM

The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery is free for everyone, all year long! As you might have already assumed, this museum is dedicated to contemporary visual art.

This non-collecting public gallery showcases both emerging and established artists from Canada and around the globe. 

What’s extra cool? The exhibition schedule is always changing, so there’s always something new to discover.

Pro Tip:

The Power Plant offers a variety of free public programs throughout the week, including artist talks, lectures, and workshops so make sure to check their calendar to know what’s on.