Blue Star Museums launches free admission program for military, families

(Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amy M. Ressler)

WASHINGTON — In a celebratory launch at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum in Norfolk, Virginia, today, Blue Star Museums launches its seventh annual summer free-admission program for service members and their families to more than 2,000 museums and nature centers across the nation and two territories.

From Memorial Day, May 30, to Labor Day, Sept. 5, all active-duty, National Guard and reserve component troops, members of the U.S. Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration commissioned corps and their families can visit a vast array of exhibits in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa and Puerto Rico.

The program is offered by the Defense Department, Blue Star Families, the National Endowment for the Arts and participating museums.

Museums for Everyone

This year’s Blue Star Museums represent not just fine arts museums, but also science museums, history museums, nature centers and dozens of children’s museums.

New participants this year include the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, Arkansas; the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover, New Hampshire; the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History in Pacific Grove, California; the Rochester Museum & Science Center in Rochester, New York; and El Rancho de las Golondrinas, a living history museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico., NEA officials said.

“The Blue Star Museums program is a fun, free activity for military families to enjoy during the summer months,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu.

“The program is also a great way for service member families to connect to their new communities, and it can provide a meaningful way for families to reconnect after deployment,” she added. “The Blue Star Museums program is also a perfect way for the arts community to say ‘thank you’ to our service members and their families for the sacrifices they make on our behalf every day.”

More Popular Every Year

Whether families are taking a trip, moving to a new duty station or enjoying a “staycation,” the program has endless opportunities for adults and children. Entering its seventh summer of free museum admission, it has expanded significantly, said Kathy Roth-Douquet, Blue Star Families CEO.

NEA officials estimate that last year, 840,000 military families took part in the Blue Star Museums program, and since its 2010 launch, 3.2 million families have benefitted from the free museum admission.

“Blue Star Museums has grown into a nationally recognized program that service members and their families look forward to each year,” Douquet said. “It helps bring our local military and civilian communities together, and offers families fun and enriching activities in their hometowns. We are thrilled with the continued growth of the program and the unparalleled opportunities it offers.”