Top Five Free Museums on MLK Day

In addition to no-charge admission, these Indy cultural destinations also offer special Martin Luther King Jr. Day programs.

Editor’s Note: The following list was updated for 2017.

This Monday, January 16, museums and cultural institutions around Indianapolis will offer free admission and special performances or exhibitions in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy.

  1. In addition to free admission, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (3000 N. Meridian St., 317-334-3342) offers a special MLK Day program: Storyteller Portia Jackson speaks about courageous children from the Civil Rights Movement; the Singing Troupe of Freetown Village, a living history museum representing the men and women of the many African American communities throughout Indiana in the years following the end of the Civil War, gives a vocal performance; and the Griot Drum Ensemble plays authentic traditional West African and Diaspora drumming.
  2. museum-wide storytelling and performances by the Griot Drum Ensemble throughout the day. Popular attractions, like Dinosphere and the temporary Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles interactive exhibition, are also included with free admission. Open 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
  3. Admission is free at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art (500 W. Washington St., 317-636-9378) with the donation of one canned good. You can experience the last day of the sixth annual Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure exhibition alongside the permanent collection of Native American art. Keep the little ones entertained with totem-pole raising and other kid-friendly activities. Open 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
  4. Normally closed on Mondays, the Indiana History Center (450 W. Ohio St., 317-232-1882) will open its doors on MLK Day. A short performance of a play based on Robert F. Kennedy’s impassioned speech in Indianapolis just after the death of King will be followed by an appearance from the Griot Drum Ensemble at 1:30 p.m. Guests can give back by assembling care packages to benefit the HealthNet Homeless Initiative Program. Open 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
  5. Free admission is just one perk at the Rhythm! Discovery Center (110 W. Washington St., 317-275-9030): As part of its MLK day celebrations, the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation will be featured in a special performance at 11 a.m. Spend the rest of the day exploring exhibitions focusing on the history and science of percussive music, or give your own musical skills a whirl at the family-friendly Interactive Area. Open 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
  6. The Indianapolis Zoo (1200 W. Washington St., 317-630-2001) will be open to the public for the price of one canned food donation, weather permitting. Winter-loving animals like polar bears, seals, and walruses will come out to play. If you need a break from the cold, the zoo’s indoor exhibitions will be open, and a free Dolphin Adventure Show is included with admission. Open 9 a.m.–4 p.m.