When a friend asked me to join in on a four-person membership to the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington several years ago, I agreed primarily because I wanted to support my hometown art museum. At the time, I didn’t realize how much I would get in return.
Not only do I have unlimited free visits for me and a friend to the museum with the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art outside Great Britain (think Victorian-era anti-establishment British artists William Morris, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones), but I also receive discounts on art classes, events and the museum store. For an outlay of about $32 annually, those are some darn good benefits. But that’s just the beginning.
Of course, as any AAA member should, when buying tickets to museums and other attractions, I have always asked if they provide a AAA discount. (Thank you, Corning Museum of Glass, for the 15 percent savings!)
But I’ve discovered that membership in my local art museum (and at many museums across the country) also comes with a bonus: free or discounted admission to a host of museums in its reciprocal networks (with a few caveats). For those who travel around the US even semi-frequently, the savings really rack up.
The Delaware Art Museum is known for its collection of Pre-Raphaelite art. Courtesy of Delaware Art Museum
Thanks to the Delaware Art Museum’s membership in the Reciprocal Organization of Associated Museums (ROAM) network and the Art Museum Reciprocal Network (AMRN), when I meet up with a fellow art-lover in Philadelphia, we head gratis to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, saving $50 every time we visit. When on a visit to my younger daughter in Atlanta, Georgia, the reciprocal network saved us each the regular $16 admission fee to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
And when I head back to my old stomping grounds of Boston this summer, I can get free admission for my friend and me to the fabulous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; that $40 will help fund a nice Italian meal in the North End. I can save at a whopping 20 museums in New York State and 21 in Florida, including a personal favorite: The Ringling in Sarasota (saving $25 per person) with its Museum of Art, Circus Museum and Bayfront Gardens.
If you already have a museum membership, check the back of your card (or the museum’s website) for its reciprocal networks—and then start using it. If you’ve been thinking about supporting a favorite museum, historic home or garden, find out which networks it participates in and which attractions belong to those networks.
Besides ROAM, another popular network of affiliated museums to look for is the North American Reciprocal Museum (NARM) Association, with more than 1,100 member institutions in North America that run the gamut from arboretums to zoos.
Arming yourself with the knowledge of just how valuable membership can be—to you and the museum you love—can make purchasing a museum membership an easy decision.