For Emerging Professionals: Museums and Historic Sites on a Budget

Philadelphia is a beautiful city with more than its fair share of amazing museums and historic sites. As a young professional, you might feel that visiting some, or most, or all of these museums and historic sites would benefit you, but you might not have the money or the time in which to do it. But there are plenty of ways in which visiting the city’s museums and historic sites will benefit you, and plenty of ways to take advantage of what they have to offer.

Having time to visit a museum or historic site might seem like a bizarre concept for a busy young professional. You may not feel like you have enough time left in the day to visit a museum, between your crazy work schedule, school, and whatever obligations you may have. Furthermore, if you are still searching for full-time employment, that could take up a majority of your time as well. It can often feel like you have to spend every spare minute of your day poring over your preferred job boards, but it can benefit you to take some time away from the stress and boredom of continually applying for jobs to walk away from it for a little while and do something else, even the couple of hours it takes to visit a museum or historic site. Everyone deserves some time to disconnect from things, and even in the few hours it takes to visit a museum, that might make all the difference.
{USS Olympia}: Highsmith, C. M., photographer. (1980) USS Olympia, docked at the Independence Seaport Museum at Penn's Landing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. [between and 2006] [Image] Retrieved from the Library of Congress.

USS Olympia, docked at the Independence Seaport Museum at Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia.  (C.M. Highsmith, 1980, Library of Congress)

In a previous article, I wrote about how volunteering at a museum can be beneficial because it can set you up on a path toward a career in your chosen field; volunteering in a museum can also be beneficial in that it can provide you with a path to seeing many of the city’s museums. Some are part of organizations that will allow you access to other museums, and others will simply allow you access to their space just because you volunteer there.

If that doesn’t give you access to all the museums and historic sites you’re itching to see, keep an eye out online and at the museums themselves for days where the museum is open for free. Many museums open for free in conjunction with special events on holidays such as the Fourth of July, which can be a great way to see many of the museums you might not be able to afford to visit at the regular admission price.

Many museums and historic sites also offer pay-as-you-wish admission on specific days and some of them don’t charge admission at all, but only ask for a donation. Either of these options is another great way to experience the city’s best historical offerings at a reduced price.

Some websites will offer coupons for admission to museums and historic sites, so keep an eye out on your favorite coupon or Philadelphia-based event websites for those so that you can take advantage of them. If the website offers it, sign up for alerts so you don’t miss any great deals on the museums you want to visit and be aware of when they expire so you can make use of them while they are good and plan when you will visit appropriately.

Additionally, you could add a visit to a specific museum or two each month to your budget, so you know that you have the money for it. Skip a few afternoon trips to Starbucks and pack lunch a few days a week instead of buying a meal, and you will easily have enough money to cover the cost of admission to a museum or two. Not only will you have built-in plans for after work or over the weekend, but the money to afford it, too!

Three of my favorite sites in the city include Belmont Mansion, the USS Olympia at the Independence Seaport Museum, and Independence Hall.
Independence Hall (Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress)

Independence Hall (Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress)

Belmont Mansion is a historic house museum. Dedicated to the Underground Railroad, the museum is located within Fairmount Park in Philadelphia.  The mansion is available as an event venue for weddings, private parties, corporate meetings, and other events. The USS Olympia is part of the Independence Seaport Museum, a maritime museum located on the Delaware River. This fall, the museum is hosting a variety of tours, including an “Artship Olympia” Tour, a Veteran’s Day Ceremony, and a Parade of Lights. Of course, Independence Hall is probably the city’s most famous historic site. Part of Independence National Historical Park, events this fall include a reading of parts of the Declaration of Independence, a twilight tour, and walking tours.

There are so many great museums and historic sites in the greater Philadelphia area; there’s something for everyone no matter what your interest is, and it is possible to see many of them without draining your finances, be it through volunteering, coupons, taking advantage of pay-as-you-wish or donation-only admission, visiting when the museum or historic site is holding an event and is open for free, or budgeting for a visit. No matter how you achieve this goal, be sure to take the time to enjoy the museums you’re visiting.


2011-08-24 11.51.50Sarah Fife is a graduate of the College of Saint Elizabeth, where she studied English, History, and Journalism, including writing for the school’s newspaper and editing the literary magazine. In addition to blogging, she has worked for various historical sites in the Philadelphia area.

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