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The Power of Reciprocal Museum Programs


If you’re a planner and like to save, it is worth considering a membership at a select museum for the benefit of getting free or discounted admission to other museums! Many participate in reciprocal programs, locally and nationally, via:

• Association of Science-Technology Centers Passport Program (ASTC)
• Association of Children’s Museums’ Reciprocal Network (ACM)
• North American Reciprocal Museum Association (NARM)

Learn more about each unique program below. Also, click here to see DullesMoms.com’s guide to STEM-Inspired Museums & Play Places.


Association of Science-Technology Centers Passport Program
The Association of Science-Technology Centers is a global organization providing a collective voice, professional support, and programming opportunities for science centers, museums, and related institutions. The association’s reciprocal membership program makes you eligible for benefits like free general admission to ASTC-participating museums more than 90-miles from your home.*

For example, a membership to the Maryland Science Center (Baltimore, MD) will also allow you to get in free to the Children’s Museum of Virginia (Portsmouth, VA), the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum (Winchester, VA), the Science Museum of Virginia (Richmond, VA), and many more! You can see a full list of participating ASTC Passport Program members here.

So, for a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 children), the savings really add up:

Maryland Science Center Adventurer Membership
$125 for 4 people

A general admission ticket $20.95/adult and $16.95/child. With about 2 visits in a year, the membership (based on 2 adults and 2 children) has almost paid for itself! And with that membership you also save when visiting:

Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum
Save: $32 on general admission
General admission: $8/person ages 2+

Children’s Museum of Virginia
Save: $42 on general admission
General admission: $10/person ages 2-17 and $11/person 18+

Science Museum of Virginia
Save: $42 on general admission
General admission: $10/person ages 4-12 and $11/person 18+

It is VERY important to note that reading each museum’s rules and asking questions in person or over the phone, are very important, as agreements are updated, new museums are added, and others leave. Each membership page on a museum’s website outlines their rules and benefits. Plus, admission to special exhibits, planetariums and larger-screen theater presentations, museum store discounts, and other benefits associated with museum membership unless stated otherwise are not included in the Passport Program.

* The language regarding the 90-mile radius rule is confusing. I live between the Science Museum of Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum (less than 90-miles from my home to each). But, each confirmed, with a phone call, they would honor an ASTC membership.


Association of Children’s Museums’ Reciprocal Network
The Association of Children’s Museums is a professional member service organization for the children’s museum field. ACM is the only organization representing museums and professionals dedicated to early childhood play, the starting point in the continuum of lifelong learning. Their reciprocal membership program makes you eligible for 50% off general admission for up to six people at museums participating in the ACM network.

For example, a membership to the Port Discovery Children’s Museum (Baltimore, MD) will also entitle you to discounted general admission to the Amazement Square, The Rightmire Children’s Museum (Lynchburg, VA), Children’s Museum of Virginia (Portsmouth, VA), Children’s Science Center Lab (Fairfax, VA), and more! You can see a full list of participating ACM members here (look for the red circle with the “R”).

So, for a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 children), the savings really add up:

Port Discovery Children’s Museum Family Plus Membership
$139 for 6 people, up to 3 adult cardholders

A general admission ticket $14.95/person ages 2+. With about 2 visits in a year, the membership has almost paid for itself! And with that membership, based on 2 adults and 2 children, you also save when visiting:

Amazement Square, The Rightmire Children’s Museum
Save 50% off general admission: $18
General admission: $9/person ages 1-59

Children’s Museum of Virginia
Save 50% off general admission: $21
General admission: $10/person ages 2-17 and seniors and $11/person 18+

Children’s Science Center Lab
Save 50% off general admission: $24
General admission: $12/person ages 2-61 and $11/person 65+

It is VERY important to note that reading each museum’s rules and asking questions in person or over the phone, are very important, as agreements are updated, new museums are added, and others leave. Each membership page on a museum’s website outlines their rules and benefits. Plus, admission to special exhibits, planetariums and larger-screen theater presentations, museum store discounts, and other benefits associated with museum membership unless stated otherwise are not included.


North American Reciprocal Museum Association

The North American Reciprocal Museum Association is one of the largest reciprocal membership programs in the world! NARM has more than 750 arts, cultural, and historical institutions along with botanical gardens, children’s museums, science and technology centers, and more, all of which offer their individual NARM-qualified members reciprocal benefits. Their reciprocal membership program makes you eligible for free general admission to NARM participating museums.

This program is really beneficial for active museum enthusiasts, and less beneficial for families, as compared to the programs above. However, there are still savings to be had, especially when traveling. You can see a full list of participating NARM members here (Summer 2015).

It is VERY important to note that reading each museum’s rules, and asking questions in person or over the phone, are very important, as agreements are updated and new museums are added while others leave. Each membership page on a museum’s website outlines their rules and benefits. Plus, admission to special exhibits, planetariums and larger-screen theater presentations, museum store discounts, and other benefits associated with museum membership unless stated otherwise, are not included in this program.


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