I know I teased a little the other day on Instagram and made you wait… but now it’s here! Enjoy!
Did you know that many museum memberships are part of an alliance that offer reciprocal admission to each others’ members? I have literally been so excited about this find that it’s distracting me (not hard to distract me from laundry…dishes…more laundry…) and I just can’t wait to take advantage of this benefit.
We have been thoroughly enjoying C1’s membership to the Thinkery here in Austin that she got for her 3rd birthday (Thank you, Mamie and Poppy!), and were looking forward to a trip to San Antonio’s Doseum in a few weeks. The trip itself is for a good friend’s birthday (Happy 4th H!) and we decided to make it an overnight and enjoy some of what nearby SA has to offer. While looking at Doseum prices, I vaguely remembered something about a sharing agreement between children’s museums that I had seen on the Thinkery website, but I was sure we didn’t sign up for the correct membership level. I did a bit more research and made a few phone calls, and we have now upgraded to the Thinkery’s Premier Membership with FREE reciprocal admission to SO many museums (not just Children’s) nationwide.
The Thinkery is part of 2 programs: the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) and Association of Children’s Museums (ACM). The ASTC offers a “Passport Program” that gives you FREE access to many museums nationwide, including many children’s museums. The terms of each participating museum is outlined in a PDF, linked below. The ACM Reciprocal Network offer 50% off general admission for up to 6 people when you hold a membership level of $125 value or more. Their website and PDF are also linked below.
So… does this reciprocal network apply to you? Is it worth it to upgrade if you have a lower membership already? A few questions to consider:
1. Do you currently have and use a membership to a children’s museum in your area?
2. Does your membership offer participation in the ACM and ASTC networks? Do you need to have a certain tier of membership to qualify?
3. Do you plan to travel to any cities within the network where you would utilize either the ASTC free admission or ACM 50% off?
OK – so the logistics. The Thinkery makes available the option to upgrade your membership by paying the difference ($51 for us), but in this case they also proposed that we pay the full $150 and receive premier membership status through 10/2018, which is a full year from when our current membership expires and 18 months from NOW. So we are getting 6 additional premier months (we already have a regular membership, remember…). Considering we are going to the Doseum in 2 weeks (50% off, saving us $24), hoping to take the girls to Nashville coming up (FREE – saving us $41 assuming our 1 year old is still free), and my husband can visit the Bishop’s museum in Honolulu while on a business trip coming up (FREE – $23 savings)…this was a no-brainer. And that is just before summer starts. How many fun museums can we visit from this list in 18 months? I foresee this being an ongoing upgrade to our membership!
Just as a note, the Doseum is also included int he ASTC network, which offers free admission. BUT – there is a caveat. Since the Thinkery is less than 90 miles from the Doseum, it voids the FREE admission part, but they still offer the ACM 50% off. This saves us $24 on our Doseum admission and pays for half of the upgrade…so now we just need to visit one more museum to make it worth it. I’m sure we will do better than that!
So – check out the children’s museum nearest you to find out if you qualify for these reciprocal benefits. Or maybe you would consider a higher membership level if you do qualify, just like we did! Maybe you’ll get to check out more than kid stuff on your next trip. ALWAYS CALL BEFORE VISITING AS THESE LISTS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE!!! Check out this list:
Association of Science-Technology Centers – ASTC Passport Program:
Association of Children’s Museum List – ACM (Check symbols for reciprocal network participation):
AND – while on this journey I found a fun additional find for free museum admissions. Bank of America offers a “Museums on Us” program where they will pay for admission (for 1, I believe) on the first full weekend of each month to their participating museums. Check out the list at:
The Thinkery is on this list! As is the Chicago Institute of Art, Newseum in Washington, D.C., etc, etc, etc. I am not a museum afficianado, but I do love and seek out the best ones to visit when we travel. Looks like I will be checking out more right here in ATX 🙂
Do you have more tips on visiting museums? How about with kids? I’d love to hear about them!
~Until next time…!