free museums toronto

10 museums in Toronto you can visit for free

Free museums in Toronto don't run aplenty but there are some in the city that'll allow you to explore their collection, cost-free, every day of the week.

While big ticket museums like the ROM, the Gardiner, and the Aga Khan have free admission programs, they're limited to one day a week, during certain hours. I suggest looking (mostly) beyond the usual tourist attractions for some local venues that are doing something different.

Here are some museums in Toronto you can visit for free.

AGO

In 2019, the largest art museum in Toronto decided that, all year, and at anytime, entry would be free for people 25 and under—and so it was. This is great new for thousands of milennials who might not be able to shell out $25 for regular admission, or make it to free night on Wednesdays.

Marilyn and Charles Baille Special Collections Centre

Located on the fifth floor of Toronto's Reference Library is this two-storey area, home to the Arthur Conan Doyle reading parlour a.k.a. the Sherlock Holmes Room. Move through the vaulted rotunda to this Victorian-stlyle room and explore a collection of antiques and rare editions of Doyle's works that you can actually read.

Toronto Police Museum

In case you've ever wondered about the history of the Toronto Police Service, look no further than its headquarters at 40 College Street. Open on weekdays, the building's atrium has a 3,000-square-foot area dedicated to showcasing the history of policing in the city. Simply walk in to check displays of old badges and the old Metro Police cop cruiser. 

Ryerson Image Centre

This former warehouse building on Ryerson's campus is a multi-faceted space. While it's best known for its galleries and art shows, the RIC has been amassing works since 1969, so the space is now home to a collection of nearly 375,000 historical photographs by seminal photographers like Eugene Atget and Brassai. 

City of Toronto Archives

First step is to get your Archives ID paper (essentially a library card); the next step is to start digging. Toronto's record centre on Spadina Road is a research buff's paradise, with a collection of photographs, maps, and books. One entire wall has books of City Council meetings that go all the way back to 1834.

Archives of Ontario

At the province's archives on the York U campus you'll find some fascinating displays about Ontario's history, endless statistics, microfilms and immigration records. Possibly the most fascinating part is the Family History Centre, which offers FamilySearch microfilms in their Reading Room, in case you've got some genealogical digging to do.

Sticker Museum

Inside the biggest sticker store in the world, this massive museum is dedicated to the history of glue-meets-paper. Follow the sticker journey from the UK postal system to its subversive graffiti connections to your childhood sticker books. Located downstairs, the permanent museum features works from legends like Shepard Fairey.

Prehistoria

It's skulls galore (even human ones) at this fascinatingly morbid natural history centre. Found at Dundas and Parliament, this emporium of oddities features over 20,000 objects like beads made from dinosaur poop and entire pilot whale skeletons. Considering the breadth of what's on display, it's kind of shocking that it's free.

Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Considered one of the largest cultural centres in the world, this not-for-profit has recently introduced the Moriyama Nikkei Heritage Centre: a permanent museum with artifacts and interactive displays that showcases the history of the Japanese community, including settling in Canada, internment, and modern day.

Scarborough Museum

This hidden treasure on Brimley Road might be one of the best insights into how early settlers lived when they arrived in Scarborough, before it became on the biggest suburbs in the 20th century. Set off a series of trails and greenery of the Thomson Memorial Park, this series of four buildings is especially beautiful in the summertime. 

Lead photo by

Andrew Williamson at the Ryerson Image Centre


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