7 museums, national parks, and more that are free on Monday

A day out with the family on Martin Luther King Jr. Day doesn't have to cost a lot.

A previous Martin Luther King Jr. Open House at the Museum of Fine Arts.
A previous Martin Luther King Jr. Open House at the Museum of Fine Arts. –MFA

On Monday, many events will take place around the city to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Ahead, discover free activities you can do with your family on the holiday.

Contribute to a unique mural at the Museum of Fine Arts
Take the family to craft flowers for a unity garden, design family trees, and add color to a one-of-a-kind mural created by teens from Artists for Humanity. It’s all happening at the Museum of Fine Arts’s annual free Martin Luther King Jr. Day Open House, which will also include live performances, scavenger hunts, and gallery tours during which guests will learn about artists of color. Mayor Marty Walsh will speak at 1 p.m. to commemorate King’s life. (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; free; all ages)


Discover a national park
The National Park Service will offer $0 admission to its parks nationwide on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the first of four fee-free days in 2018. (The others are April 21, Sept. 22, and Nov. 11.) There are more than 400 national parks, many of which are free to enter all the time, but some normally charge a fee, according to the National Park Service. In Massachusetts, two national parks charge fees: Adams National Historic Park in Quincy and Cape Cod National Seashore in Wellfleet. The historic homes at Adams National Historic Park are closed until April 19, but you can still explore the grounds between sunrise and sunset. Starting at the Cape Cod National Seashore’s Salt Pond Visitor Center, you can hike trails, tour a museum with exhibits about Wampanoag culture, and watch short films about Cape Cod’s maritime history and how the Cape was formed by ice, wind, and waves. (9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Cape Cod National Seashore’s Salt Pond Visitor Center, Eastham; free; all ages)

Attend a concert at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Explore the changing roles of music in the African-American community during a free concert by George Russell Jr. & Company at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Berklee College of Music professor George Russell Jr. and his ensemble play everything from Thomas Dorsey spirituals of the 1930s to the 1960s hit “Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins Singers. Reservations are required. (10:30 to 11:30 a.m.; John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston; free; all ages)

You can chat with a zookeeper about lions during an admission-free day at the Franklin Park Zoo on Monday. —David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe

Chat with a zookeeper
On Monday, admission is free to both the Stone Zoo in Stoneham and the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, where you can write a message of hope and peace on a mural within the Tropical Forest Pavilion. The Franklin Park Zoo will host zookeeper chats about birds, lions, gorillas, sloths, flamingos, and red pandas. The Stone Zoo will host zookeeper chats about cougars, sloths, and black bears. (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Stone Zoo, Stoneham, and Franklin Park Zoo, Boston; free; all ages)

Watch live performances at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
The Gardner Museum is waiving admission for its Day of Service festivities, at which Martin Luther King Jr. speeches will be projected onto the historic building. Danza Organica, the Gregory Groover Jr. Jazz Trio, and Jeff. W. Jones will all perform, the latter using music and imagery to depict four generations of African-American cultural history in Boston. Visitors will also have the opportunity to make care packages for survivors of domestic violence. Due to capacity regulations, the museum will admit guests every 30 minutes beginning at 11 a.m. (11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston; free; all ages)

Hear a stirring orchestra at Boston University
Listen to young musicians perform classical music, spirituals, and freedom songs when the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra performs a free concert at Boston University’s Metcalf Hall. Community leaders will also speak the words of King. It’s all part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and Celebration Tribute Concert, a collaboration between the Museum of African American History and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture. Seating is first-come, first-served. (10:30 a.m. to noon; Boston University’s Metcalf Hall, Boston; free; all ages)


Help neighbors in need in Cambridge
Sen. Elizabeth Warren will kick off the 8th Annual MLK Day of Service in Cambridge with a welcome address at 2 p.m. at Cambridge City Hall. Volunteers can then join several hands-on service projects between 2 and 5 p.m. at the following Central Square locations: the YWCA, the Senior Center, The Possible Project, St. Peter’s Church, and Cambridge City Hall. You can make fleece blankets for the homeless, Valentine’s Day cards for the elderly, activity kits for kids in ER waiting areas, and sort food donations for pantries. More than 80 different Cambridge service organizations will benefit from the citywide event. Volunteers are asked to register for the activities and arrive with items to donate, such as winter clothing, nonperishable foods, and children’s books. (2 to 5 p.m.; Central Square, Cambridge; free; all ages)

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