We just love Austin Museum Day! More than 35 local cultural institutions are offering FREE admission on Sunday, September 17, and you’ll also find tons of special activities for you and the kids to enjoy.

We know you probably already have your favorite museums in mind, but Museum Day is a great time to branch out and try something new. Maybe there’s a place you’ve never been before? Here we’re sharing a few Museum Day highlights that stand out as something extra fun and unique for the family.

Top Picks for Austin Museum Day:

–> New Exhibit & Puppet Show at Austin Nature & Science Center
open 12 – 5 p.m.; puppet show 1 p.m.
Check out the opening of a touring exhibit with interactive displays and a Gothic castle. And at 1 p.m. you can watch “Biodiversity of Texas” — giant puppet show by Animal Facts Club that uses colorful backdrops, puppets, costumes, audio, and narrative to explore the wildlife and ecology in Texas.

See a performance by Animal Facts Club

–> Fossil Identification at Texas Memorial Museum
1-5 p.m.
Texas Memorial Museum will be hosting Identification Day. University scientists and experts from Central Texas will be on hand to identify natural objects such as fossils, bones, rocks and prehistoric archaeological materials.

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UT students and staff can help you identify your fossils

–> Fun with Grover & More at LBJ Presidential Library
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
It’s a “The Monster at the End of This Book” event!  Take your picture with Grover, sit down for storytime, participate in an activity, and win a free book. The River City Pops will sing songs from PBS shows. Enjoy the exhibit, “On The Air: 50 Years of Public Broadcasting.”

Sesame Street photo ops & more at LBJ Library. Photo by Jay Godwin

–> Farm Animals & Historic Tours at Pioneer Farms
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Farm animals, historical demonstrations and much more will be offered at Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms. It’ll be a family-friendly day when you can step back in time to see what Texas was like during the 1800s. There are 5 themed restored historic areas for the whole family to explore.
pioneerfarms–> Play with Color at Laguna Gloria
noon – 4 p.m.
Embark on an exploration of color and light all day long at The Contemporary Austin’s Laguna Gloria. Play with the rainbow, contribute to an explosive collaborative painting, and make a transparent work of art to take home. Jam with Kupira Marimba alongside a xylophone-like work of art, and grab a bite to eat at a food truck.

The Contemporary Austin offers plenty for families to do at Laguna Gloria. Photo by David Brendan Hall.

–> Frida Family Day at Mexic-Arte Museum
12 – 5 p.m.
Join Mexic-Arte Museum in celebrating the life and work of Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo. In conjunction with the annual community altars exhibit, Love to Death and Frida y Diego: A Smile in the Middle of the Way, the Museum will offer hands-on art activities and other family programs to celebrate Frida Kahlo. The Museum will also invite community partners, Monica and Sergio Lejarazu from Jumpolin Piñatas, for a special flower crown demonstration as part of the Museum’s Artist in Residence program.

Hands-on fun at last year’s museum day events. Photo from Mexic-Arte Museum Facebook page.

–> Hands-on Science Fun at the Thinkery
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Ready to tinker, make and create? Enjoy a family-friendly day full of fun and learning at Austin’s home for “why” and “how.” Explore and experience Thinkery’s hands-on, STEAM-focused exhibits and gallery activities from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Museum Day tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Go play!

There’s always so much to explore at Thinkery. Photo from their Facebook page.

–> Fun with Nature at the Wildflower Center
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Take the kids to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s Luci and Ian Family Garden to Discover nature. Activities for the day include garden tours, a seed planting demonstration, children’s activities, storytime, insect displays from the University of Texas, and more!  The Store will also have a 20% off wildflower seeds.

Exploring the Luci and Ian Family Garden. Photo from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Facebook Page

–> Historic Home Tours, Ice Cream at Neill-Cochran House
noon – 4 p.m.
Neill-Cochran House Museum invites guests to step into history and check out the folk art exhibit, and the history of weddings exhibit will be open for tours. Civil war-era reenactors will be displaying period costume, sewing techniques, and medical instruments. They’ll also be hand-churning ice cream on the porch—visitor participation encouraged!

Churning ice cream on the porch at Neill-Cochran House. Photo from their Facebook page.

–>Play Old School Video Games at the Bullock Museum
12- 5 p.m.
Experience the past, present, and future of video games in the Bullock’s exhibit Pong to Pokémon: The Evolution of Electronic Gaming. Rare gaming artifacts, playable video games, and family-friendly activities inspired by your favorite games will have every gamer wanting to play again.

Practicing our Pong skills at the Bullock Museum

–> Portraiture in the Park at the Elisabet Ney Museum
noon – 4 p.m.
The historic Elisabet Ney Museum will host “Portraiture in the Park: Who Are You Anyways?!” What does a portrait say about you? How many new ways can you think of to tell those stories and make new kinds of portraits? Find out through music, demos, art activities, caricatures, and more! Picnic in the park from food trucks while you’re there!

Photo from the Elisabet Ney Museum Facebook page

–> Hands-on Activities at the Science Mill
If you wish to head out for a short day trip, you can visit the Hill Country Science Mill in Johnson City. Explore the Mill’s amazing hands-on exhibits, see a 3D movie, enjoy interactive maker stations and much more. 

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Photo from the Science Mill Facebook page

There’s certainly much more to explore on Austin Museum Day! You can find kid-friendly happenings at Austin Toy Museum, Dougherty Arts Center, Williamson Museum, the Blanton Museum of Art — and more! For even more details, please visit www.austinmuseumday.org. You can also download the Austin Museum Partnership app on Google Play or the Apple Store to plan out your day.

And here’s something cool for those on Instagram: Participate in the Austin Museum Day Instagram contest for a chance to win great prizes. The contest is open 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Sunday, September 21.
To play:
1. Follow @TxHistComm and @austinmuseums on Instagram (link below)
2. Take a photograph at one of the participating Austin Museum Day institutions
3. Post it to your Instagram (make sure your profile is public!)
4. Tag the participating institution and #museumday2014
Multiple submissions are allowed. Contest closes at 9 p.m. on Sunday, September 21; submissions posted after 9 p.m. will not be included.A total of 3 winners – 1st through 3rd places—will be selected by a panel of judges that include staff from Texas Historical Commission and Austin Museum Partnership. Prizes to be announced. – See more at: http://www.rwethereyetmom.com/2014/09/8-family-museums-to-see-on-austin.html#sthash.AUM84Gpb.dpuf–> To see even more of what’s happening on Austin Museum Day, you can visit the Austin Museum Partnership website and download their app from Google Play and the App Store for listings of special activities offered at all Austin Museum Day eventsHave a great time!

Besides visiting on Austin Museum Day, did you know that many museums offer FREE admission on a regular basis? Visit our guide to see which dates and times allow free admission: When to Visit Austin Museums for Free