So my last post was about how museums can increase accessibility, from the perspective of a museum. Today I am going to detail a few ways to get good deals on admission as a visitor. While I live in Florida, some other places are included, as well as tips on how to find programs.
One of my best purchases was a student membership at the Orlando Museum of Art because 1) I love visiting, and 2) they are a SERM member. SERM is the Southeastern Reciprocal Membership program; this means that with my Orlando Museum of Art membership, I can get into lots of other museums in the region for free! Just in Tampa, there’s the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, the Henry B. Plant Museum, the Tampa Bay History Center, and the Tampa Museum of Art. Lots more museums in Florida, as well as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, plus a couple other museums, are on the list. That’s a ton! Be sure to look around at what is available and where you can get the cheapest membership. For example, the Tampa Museum of Art offers an individual membership for $50, but instead I bought a membership from the Orlando Museum of Art when student passes were on sale for $20.
NARM is the same thing but throughout North America. There are 842 institutions associated with this, and generally you’ll have to buy a more expensive membership such as a family pass or a higher supporter level. You can check out a map of NARM members here.
I’ve also found a Smithsonian Affiliate reciprocal program, and another reciprocal group called ROAM.
Teen and Student Deals
So many museums give discounted admission to teenagers and college students! It varies; for some huge museums where admission is already $25+, it may only be a couple dollars off with a student ID. Other museums, especially art museums from what I’ve seen, may give very cheap or free tickets. Always check.
There are also programs designed specifically to give teens more access to cultural events. When I was researching my last post, I found TeenTix in Seattle, Washington. It’s an organization where 13 to 19 year olds can get “a free pass that gets you in to movies, music, theatre, dance, visual art, and more for just $5.” The range of events you can go to is really impressive. My family is actually going on a trip to Seattle soon and the EMP Museum looks absolutely incredible but was going to be over $100 for my family of four to visit. Amazingly, my brother and I can both get TeenTix (you don’t have to be from Washington) and get $5 admission. On Thursdays you can also bring someone with you for $5, so now my whole family will be visiting for $20, save an exhibit upcharge. This is a great deal and a great program that I hope residents take full advantage of by seeing lots of theatre and going to lots of museums!
Kids and Family
In my previous post I mentioned that some libraries provide family museum passes which is an awesome resource. Chicago , Miami-Dade county, and Seattle were what I came across, but I’d encourage looking up your own city or county library system as well.
If there is a single museum or aquarium your family really likes to visit, definitely consider a membership or annual pass. In many cases these cost a little more than just two trips. Keep an eye out for summer deals, too; the Glazer Children’s Museum, for example, offers an unlimited admission package for the summer months that is only $49. For just one visit, tickets for a family of four usually come out to $49, but this is unlimited membership!
And again, NARM is often included when you purchase a family-level membership.
Bank of America cardholders get free admission on the first weekend of the month at lots of institutions.
Groupon sometimes has museum admission; I more often see zoo or aquarium deals. My family once went to a special nighttime event at a zoo for half-price with Groupon tickets.
Look for discount days at your favorite museums. Many have deals such as free admission one Friday a month, $5 on Mondays, etc. This is how I went to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg; they have $10 admission when open late on Thursdays. Free Museum Day is a site that will show you similar deals for some cities.
At the Very Least…
Visit free museums! While some cities are known for having lots of free institutions, like Washington DC, and others have many just by virtue of being packed with museums, like New York City, others may require some digging. I could not find a singular list of all free museums, but a google search for “[your city or state] + free museums” will reveal some. Many museums may be free thanks to sponsors, only charge donations, or are public because they’re affiliated with a university.
There are lots of great art and history museums, science centers, aquariums, and more to see! Find some local deals or get a reciprocal museum pass and go check them out!