May 15, 2014


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IMLS Contact
Giuliana Bullard, 202-653-4799

Association of Children’s Museums Contact
Jessica Hubbard, 703-224-3100 x102

ACM, IMLS Announce Children’s Museum Access Program for Low-Income Families

Museums for All to increase accessibility of high-quality museum learning resources

Phoenix, AZ—There is a crisis in early learning. Too many children are starting school without the academic and social skills they need for success. Socioeconomic status (SES) is perhaps the greatest divider; the children who are not ready for school are disproportionately from low-income families. A new initiative of the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) aims to address that disparity by making the high-quality learning experiences of children’s museums more accessible to low-income families.

Today at InterActivity, ACM’s annual conference, ACM Board President Jane Werner announced that ACM and IMLS are working to establish Museums for All, a signature access program to encourage families of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly and build lifelong museum habits. The program will enable low-income families to visit participating museums for a minimal fee.

Museums for All will enable low-income families (as indicated by an EBT card—an electronic payment card that has replaced food stamps) to visit any participating museum year-round for a minimal fee. ACM proposes to develop Museums for All guidelines and promotional materials during summer 2014 and to begin recruiting museums to participate in the program. The goal is to enlist 125 museum participants.

While the pilot will be targeted to ACM members, which include children's museums and science centers, any type of museum is welcome to participate in this pilot phase. If the initial Museums for All pilot is successful, ACM will work with IMLS and other museum associations to expand Museums for All to include museums of all disciplines. IMLS will provide $126,445 to support the effort.

IMLS Director Susan H. Hildreth said, “The Museums for All initiative represents a long stride toward our goal of reaching more children and parents, especially those living in poverty, with the valuable learning resources of museums. We know that only 43 percent of children in the lowest socioeconomic status visited museums in their kindergarten year, compared to 65 percent of children in the highest SES. The disparity of access to learning resources between children of affluence and those in poverty has created a knowledge gap with serious implications for our nation’s economic prosperity.”

ACM Board President Jane Werner said, “Children’s museums, with their unique focus on bringing children, families, and communities together, are committed to providing access to all. Each year, children’s museums host more than 31 million visitors. In 2013, children’s museums offered programs in the museum and in community for low-income audiences that reached more than 2,300,000 people. The Museums for All initiative will allow children’s museums to further expand their reach and impact.”

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About Association of Children’s Museums (ACM)
In an increasingly complex world, children’s museums provide a place where all kids can learn through play and exploration with the caring adults in their lives. There are approximately 400 children’s museums around the world, which annually reach more than thirty-one million visitors. ACM provides leadership, professional development, advocacy and resources for its member organizations and individuals. To learn more about ACM and to find an ACM-member children’s museum near you, visit