If you’ve been interested in exposing your children to the arts or a new culture but question whether the price of a museum’s admission for a family is worth it, this Saturday is your chance to try something new. Smithsonian magazine is hosting its annual Museum Day Live! this Saturday, March 12th.

Expand Your Family’s Horizons for Free this Saturday at Museum Day Live!

Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in NYC – By Jim.henderson [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Smithsonian, which offers free admission to their museums every day, is encouraging museums across the country open their doors to anyone presenting a Museum Day Live! ticket, which they can get for free on their website.

Expand Your Family’s Horizons for Free this Saturday at Museum Day Live!

By LDickson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

We all know that museums offer a dynamic opportunity to expose children to history, art and other new experiences in a rich educational environment but as adults we tend to avoid going out of our comfort zone. This event is the perfect opportunity to try out museums that you would not normally think of as family favorites.

Expand Your Family’s Horizons for Free this Saturday at Museum Day Live!

Beautiful Morgan Library – Photo: Angela Tiffin, History Buff Traveling Mom

Over 500 museums across the U.S. will be participating this year.  Browse the museums listed on the Smithsonian website by state and zip code and you may be surprised to learn there are some that you never knew existed in your own neighborhood and others that you’ve been meaning to go to for ages.

Most of these institutions have family programs that aim to give children a hands-on learning experience with crafts and activities so you don’t have to worry about the boredom that comes with only static exhibits to look at.

Some parents are deterred from visiting museums with their children because they worry that they won’t be able to answer questions about an unfamiliar culture.  But whether it’s the Asia Society in Manhattan or the Portland Museum of Crafts in Oregon, visiting an unknown museum as a family can provide a shared intergenerational learning experience where kids, parents and extended family can grow and learn together.

Enhancing Family Travel

Learning about new areas of the world is also a great way to prepare children for international travel, especially when a country has very different religious, epicurean or cultural traditions than your own.

And let’s not forget all the great museums created to teach children about their nation’s own dynamic heritage and geography. There are plenty of worthwhile historical museums that celebrate the states and cities that your family may think they know. Check it out – there may be a lot more to your home state than you could ever imagine.

While free admission is a great excuse to get out to the museums and cultural centers in your area, don’t forget that most museums have free nights and donate-what-you-can policies so there really is no reason not to take your children to exhibits on a regular basis.

How to Get Tickets

  • Search for participating museums in your area on the Smithsonian magazine web site.
  • Visit the Smithsonian registration page to reserve your tickets and download on to your phone.
  • Note: Only two tickets are allowed per household so plan accordingly.