Museum Membership Has Its (Reciprocal) Privileges

by Gina Martin on June 6, 2012

in Arts and Culture

When we visited the Schenectady Museum of Science this spring, I signed us up for a family museum membership. At only $65 for a whole year, we get free admission to the museum and four planetarium show tickets for use any time, which is a great deal for a whole year. We want to support our local institutions, but I freely admit that I had an ulterior motive for becoming a member: the Association of Science – Technology Centers (ASTC) Passport Program and the Empire State Reciprocal Museum Program. Please note that our family joined on our own dime, and we have not received any compensation or special consideration from the museum. It’s a worthwhile facility, and the added perks make it a fantastic bargain that I wanted to share. Mad scientists and museum fans unite!

Visit hundreds of science and technology museums with ASTC pass

The ASTC Passport Program is an agreement among hundreds of science and technology museums to offer reciprocal membership privileges, in the form of free regular admission to participating facilities. The list is impressive, and there are many attractions within a day trip’s drive of the Capital Region and Tech Valley. General admission is what’s usually covered, but some museums also extend things like discounts in their museum shops. It’s best to check out the list of participants to get the specifics. The more-than 300 ASTC museums are located all over the US and internationally.

Harvard Museum of Natural History Whale Skeleton

The one catch is that ASTC institutions must be at least 90 miles, as the crow flies, from your home, to qualify for reciprocal privileges. Luckily, all the ones we want to go to are in the right range! A family membership to the Schenectady Museum will pay for itself with just one visit to ASTC participants such as the Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum or the Boston Museum of Science. As my kids say: w00t!

With the Empire State Reciprocal Museum Program you get admission to many NY state museums regardless of distance. Locally (as of the current listings), the Shaker Museum, Albany Institute of History and Art, Children’s Museum of Science and Technology, the Hyde Museum, FASNY Firefighter Museum and the National Museum of Dance all participate. So, if we get sick of techy stuff, we can go get our Shaker on, or shake a leg (among other parts) at the the National Dance Museum.

Both programs’ participants and restrictions are subject to change, so be sure to check out the specific institution’s policy before you go.

Check it out!

ASTC Passport Program
Empire State Reciprocal Museum Program

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Fun In Cambridge MA: Glass Flowers at the Harvard Museum of Natural History
Corning Glass Museum: The 90-Minute Tour
Graffiti – Introduce Kids to Street Art, at the Liberty Science Center (NJ)

| lives in Coxsackie NY with her husband, their two children, and an assortment of Rottweilers and cats. Gina has been a homeschooling parent since 2003, and is also proud parent of a Tech Valley High School student. Gina is the creator of ModSchooler, her blog about 21st -century learning and fun, and is a contributor to From Scratch Club writing on food and food policy. As lifelong learners, Gina and her tween and teen kids like to go off the beaten path to explore quirky travel destinations, unusual cuisine, and all things geeky. Email:, twitter: @GinaMartinBlogs

Dawn June 6, 2012 at 10:08 am

Yes!! I tell all my friends to do this same thing! We’ve been members since last year. I think it also gets you discounts on biethday parties. What a deal!!

Gina Martin June 6, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Yep, my kids are gift shop junkies so the discount helps them extend their allowance money too 😀
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Cie McCullough Buschle June 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Excellent info Gina, I had no idea!

Lisa June 8, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Great information! I’ve been thinking of looking into whether our local science museum (in Toronto) has reciprocal memberships.
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Beth @ TheAngelForever June 9, 2012 at 8:37 pm

We just went to CMOST today and I do believe we are going to investigate getting the Family Explorer membership. As you mentioned the number of locations that are not that far away are huge. My brother and his family have been doing this with the Strong Museum for a few years now.
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