Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve, from Memorial Day, May 25, 2015 through Labor Day, September 7, 2015.
A number of AASLH members participate in this great program, so we asked them to share with our readers how they became #BlueStarMuseums and how this has affected their audience, visitation, and community engagement.
Michelle Zupan, Curator and Director at the Hickory Hill historic house museum:
“Georgia is a huge military state (the 5th largest in the nation), so it’s the norm, not the exception, for people to know active or retired military here. We have 8 military bases. We have worked for 11 years with the Ft. Gordon Signal Museum on cooperative programming and preservation efforts. So, when the Blue Star Program started, there was no question that we would join. We actually began offering free admission for active and retired military and their families year round because of it. Also as a result of the Blue Star Program we began working closely with a program that helps wounded warriors reintegrate with society and with the Veterans Curation Program that is administered by the US Army Corps of Engineers. It’s an easy thing to offer the Blue Star admission and the vets are always surprised. It costs us nothing to administer, but brings us lots of goodwill in our community which is more important than any admission dollar.”
Regina Asborno, Deputy Director of the New York Transit Museum:
“Last summer the New York Transit Museum proudly offered free admission to 202 visitors through the NEA Blue Star Museums program. It is such a great program that we’ve chosen to continue this offer to military families throughout the year and saw over 600 military visitors and their family members in 2014.”
Steve Hawkins, Director of Marketing at the Oklahoma History Center:
“The Blue Star Museums program is a way we here at the Oklahoma History Center can offer our deepest gratitude to those who serve our nation. By offering these brave folks and their families a no-admission opportunity to see a slice of Oklahoma history and a day to relax, we are essentially shaking a hand and patting them on the back. This is the very least we can offer and we do it with pride and respect for them and our wonderful country.”
What about your museum? Will you be a Blue Star Museum this summer, or even throughout the year?
Aja Bain is Program Assistant at AASLH. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-320-3203.