November 2, 2015
By Christopher Reich
IMLS Senior Advisor
IMLS has joined with the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) to launch a new initiative to ensure that every family and child has access to high quality museum experiences. Museums for All has been developed as a nationally branded program, targeted to low-income families. Participating museums will offer free or reduced-price admission for up to four individuals in a group upon presentation of an EBT (electronic benefit transfer) card.
Photo by Joel Haskell. Courtesy of the Boston Children's Museum
Many museums currently offer free days, but these might not be the most convenient times for working families. Museums for All museums offer this discounted admission opportunity at any time, every day. The nationally-branded program offers a variety of resources and support materials ranging from the program logo to bookmarks, window stickers, sample press releases, partnership ideas, and training resources for front line staff.
ACM is currently coordinating a pilot phase, targeting the children’s museum community, with a goal of recruiting 125 participating institutions by spring 2016. Any kind of museum is welcome to join now, however, and the project has enrolled over 40 museums as of today!
Visit the Museums for All website at www.museums4all.org for more information, to view an introductory webinar, or to enroll your museum. Participation requirements are minimal, including a commitment to appropriate training for visitor services staff and quarterly reporting on the number of persons using the EBT admissions program.
We expect that participating museums will see an increase in attendance, but not necessarily a decrease in admissions revenue. Several museums that have implemented similar programs have found new avenues of funding through foundation grants and local donations or sponsorships.
We hope that participating museums will benefit from being part of a high-profile national initiative emphasizing the important role that museums play as community resources. Museums for All provides a very visible way for the museum community to shine a light on its commitment to inclusiveness and accessibility while allowing participating museums to expand their reach and foster deeper relationships with underserved parts of the communities they strive to serve.
Christopher Reich is a senior advisor in the Office of Museum Services within IMLS.