Free Cultural Venues in Sydney

Photo courtesy of Architecture AU.
Photo courtesy of Architecture AU.

The best things in life are free with these Free Cultural Venues all around Sydney.

There are a variety of art galleries, museums and cultural venues that are essential to visit when you’re living in or visiting a city however most of the time these experiences don’t come cheap. That’s why we have compiled a list of free cultural venues that offer visitors a chance to enjoy an insight into Sydney’s culture free of charge. Did we mention it’s FREE!

Free Cultural Venues: Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo courtesy of Architecture AU.

Photo courtesy of Architecture AU.

Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art is a hub of Sydney’s creative culture, planted firmly in The Rocks. The MCA hosts contemporary art pieces from both Australian and Internationally renowned artists, and encourages gallery enthusiasts to experience art as an experience, not merely as an object. Whether you’re a Sydney sider or a tourist, this cultural destination is essential to visit and has a jam-packed calendar with an array of event programs open to the public. The philosophy of this gallery is that art is for everyone. So that’s why the diverse range of programs, exhibits, talks, workshops and features of the MCA make it a unique Australian experience. The MCA also has an Artbar, which hosts monthly exhibits and gallery parties complete with a DJ and bar.

The MCA floor is free to roam with the exception of specially curated exhibits or workshops.

The Museum of Contemporary Art
140 George St, The Rocks, 9245 2400
Open Mon – Weds 10am-5pm, Thurs 10am – 9pm, Fri – Sun 10am – 5pm.

The Nicholson Museum

The Nicholson Museum is Australia’s oldest University museum and is a destination for all history and archaeology buffs. This museum plays host to the largest collection of antiquities in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s located within the campus of the University of Sydney. The museum was founded in 1860, following a donation of the private antiquities collection of Sir Charles Nicholson (the second chancellor of the University of Sydney).
The Nicholson Museum is definitely a unique cultural experience. It encourages an interest in Sydney’s historic educational institutions. This museum hosts a range of worldwide artefacts from Egypt, Italy, Cyprus, Greece the East.

The Nicholson Museum
Main Quadrangle inside the University of Sydney, Manning Rd, Camperdown, 9351 2812
Open weekdays 10am – 4.30pm and first Saturday of the month 12pm – 4pm.

Free Cultural Venues: The Rocks Discovery Museum

The Rocks Discovery Museum

The Rocks Discovery Museum is a small cultural foundation which exhibits images and archaeological finds that were discovered from Sydney’s pre-European era. This museum may not be one of Sydney’s most widely visited institutions, however is hosts a unique range of curious finds discovered in The Rocks. The Rocks Discovery Museum is hidden amongst the small selection of venues located on the cobble stone streets of The Rocks, and is housed within a restored 1850’s sandstone warehouse. The Rocks Discovery Museum also explores the Aboriginal history of the area, as well as English colonisation and trade which occurred throughout the region. The museum hosts a range of interactive displays and audiovisual elements which make this museum a fun and family friendly revision of history.

The Rocks Discovery Museum
2-8 Kendall lane, Sydney, 9240 8680
Open 10am – 5pm daily.

The National Maritime Museum

The National Maritime Museum is a cultural venue which is for keen followers of maritime history and explorers alike. This museum located in Darling Harbour explores Australia’s maritime history through trade, immigration, commerce and defence. The National Maritime Museum is fondly associated with school excursions, however it consistently hosts a unique range of cultural and historical exhibits. Permanent features of The National Maritime Museum are the tall ships and vessels lining the harbour (such as the HMB Endeavour and the HMAS Onslow submarine) and exhibits such as the Eora first people display and the mini mariners play area. The National Maritime Museum offers visitors free entry on the first Thursday of every month, however various exhibits and areas of the museum do charge a fee.

National Maritime Museum
2 Murray Street, Darling Harbour, 9298 3777
Open daily 9:30 am – 5:00 pm, extended to 6:00 pm in Jan
Last boarding time for Submarine and Tall Ships – 4.10pm.

Free Cultural Venues: Sydney Observatory

Sydney Observatory

Free cultural venues certainly can seem heaven sent. And this place certainly is. The Sydney Observatory, easily identified by its striking copper telescope domes is located atop Observatory Hill. This cultural institution encourages a keen curiosity in science for children and adults. And it is listed as a heritage site by the NSW Government and is the oldest observatory in Australia. Visitors can star gaze, tour the planetarium and wander through meteorological exhibits as well as observing Sydney’s weather patterns. Day visits to the ground and first floor of the Observatory are free of charge, however there are also special nighttime guided tours and a 3D space theatre which require payment.

Sydney Observatory
Watson Rd, Millers Point, 9921 3485
Open 10am – 5pm daily, times vary for nighttime visits and exhibits.

Now run forth and try all these free cultural venues for yourself. And if you’re looking for a place to eat on a budget, Read our Guide to The Best Food in Sydney Under $5. 

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