12 Free Museums in Toronto with the Toronto Public Library

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Did you know if you are a member of the Toronto Public Library you can access free museums in Toronto? Whether you have a local library membership or you buy an annual non-resident pass, there are many things to do at the Toronto Public Library, not the least of which is to see city highlights for free.

Toronto Public Library is one of the world’s busiest library systems with 100 branches located throughout the city almost half have access to the MAP program which distributes passed. The Museum + Arts Pass (MAP) program has two components: (1) the Museum Pass and; (2) the Performing Arts Pass. The former lets you have access to 12 museums and cultural activities in the GTA – Greater Toronto Area. Currently, the Performing Arts Pass is unavailable but lets you access live music and theatre events.

Museum + Arts Pass (MAP)

Free admission to Toronto museums and cultural attractions are available at many (but not all branches). The listings below link to each of the participating venues on the Toronto Public Library website and list the branch which participated in the MAPS program. You can also see a list of pass availability by branch,  borrowing rules and conditions and Museum + Arts Pass FAQ through the links.

There are specific days and times when the passes are available on a first-come-first-serve or draw basis. Note that you can only visit one venue per week (and each only once every three months). Access the MAP Pass with your adult library card, and you and your family can get admission to free museums in Toronto and other cultural attractions.

Museums & Cultural Venues

The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto @DownshiftingPRO

Aga Khan Museum This exceptional museum is a “must-see”. I loved my recent visit and look forward to returning in the summer to see their gardens. The Aga Khan Museum provides visitors with a window into the artistic, intellectual, and scientific contributions of Muslim civilizations to world heritage.

The AGO is part of the MAP Program of the Toronto Public Library providing Free museums in Toronto

AGO – Art Gallery of Ontario With a collection of close to 95,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. The AGO always has interesting and sometimes provocative artists. It’s here that l discovered Ai Wei Wei.

The Bata Museum is part of the MAP Program of the Toronto Public Library providing Free museums in Toronto

Bata Shoe Museum As North America’s largest shoe museum, the Bata Shoe Museum features an international collection of 15,000 artifacts, spanning 4,500 years of fascinating footwear history. I visited in March and loved it.

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Black Creek Pioneer Village Travel back in time and experience life as it was! Explore 40 heritage buildings, meet friendly farm animals, enjoy beautiful gardens, and visit with costumed educators.

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Gardiner Museum On my list to see: this unique museum is focused on ceramics, with a permanent collection made up of approximately 4,000 objects.

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The Museum of Contemporary Art MOCA Toronto features work by world-renowned Canadian and international artists exploring the themes of our time.

ontario science centre

Ontario Science Centre A highlight for any adult and child interested in science, the OSC has many fascinating interactive experiences about science and technology.

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ROM – Royal Ontario Museum Experience Canada’s largest museum. From dinosaurs to mummies, Chinese architecture to Indigenous objects, and meteorites to precious jewels. One of my favourites was The Dale Chihuly Exhibit in 2016.

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Textile Museum of CanadaThe Textile Museum of Canada aims to inspire understanding of the human experience through textiles.

historic sites

Toronto History Museums Connecting local communities to Toronto’s past, present and future through diverse perspectives. There are 10 locations including Fort York, Colbourne Lodge, Spadina Museum Scarborough Museum, Gibson House Museum, Market Gallery, McKenzie House, Montgomery’s Inn, Todmorden Mills and Zion Schoolhouse.

toronto railway museumToronto Railway Museum The Toronto Railway Museum presents exhibits, tours, educational programs, and presentations that bring Toronto’s railway heritage to life.

toronto zooToronto Zoo The Toronto Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the world with over 700 acres and more than 5,000 animals representing 450 species.

Music, theatre, and film

royal conservatory

There is no question that free museums in Toronto are wonderful but the MAP Performing Arts PassSee includes music, theatre, film, and more. Passes are currently unavailable until further notice. In the past venues include Canadian Stage, Factory Theatre, Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, The Royal Conservatory of Music, Tafelmusik, TIFF Lightbox, and Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Connect with the Toronto Public Library

The main branch of the Toronto Public Library is located right downtown and is easily accessible via public transit. If you want more information about programs follow them on your favourite social media platform.

Some images used in this post are directly from the TPL website. All photo credit belongs to The Toronto Public Library website.

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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for DownshiftingPRO.com and other online media outlets.