Seattle's Child

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Museum pass program helps families gain access to the arts

Access museums using your library card

I’ve been an avid user of the amazing Seattle Public Library system for years and years – from holds too numerous to count, grabbing Peak Picks near the checkout counter, printing documents, borrowing DVDs, and now, as a parent, ever-rotating bagfuls of children’s books – the library is my favorite community resource.

Museum Pass Program

It was only recently that I learned about a new-to-me incredible resource from SPL – the Museum Pass program. Through this program, our family has enjoyed two trips to the aquarium and has an upcoming trip to the Burke Museum scheduled (for when Grandma comes to visit). The program is a tremendous benefit to library patrons and we hope to enjoy it for years to come.

What is it?

The Museum Pass program provides library patrons with free – yes, free – tickets to various cultural institutions around the city, such as the Center for Wooden Boats, the Museum of Flight, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Woodland Park Zoo. There are currently 11 cultural institutions that partner with SPL to provide museum passes.

Kiersten Nelson, Community Partnership & Government Relations Manager at SPL, says that the program is an “absolutely wonderful chance for people to get to locations they might not otherwise visit.”

With admission prices sometimes as high as $30 per person, visiting museums can become a pricey outing for a family. Nelson highlights that through the Museum Pass program, families have the opportunity to try something new without spending a lot of money. “It makes cultural institutions accessible for populations that are often underserved,” and it “takes the pressure off” of deciding whether or not to try out a new experience because you are not paying the full admission price to visit, Nelson points out.

How Does It Work?

Library patrons can reserve a museum pass up to 30 days in advance. New passes (for the date 30 days in the future) are released daily at noon, and fill up quickly! Nelson encourages patrons to check regularly to see what’s available and be open to trying those available passes. With these strategies, you are more likely to secure a pass.

Also, make sure to note the details of each pass. For example, some locations provide admission for two adults and two children with their pass, while others provide admission for two adults – each pass is a bit different, depending on the location.

Additionally, each location has different general admission for children – some have free admission for children under two, while others might have free admission for children under 14. The Museum Pass website provides detailed information on what each pass includes. You can also check each location’s website to find out general admission information.

There is no limit to how many Museum Passes you can reserve, though you can only have one pass reserved at a time. As soon as you use the pass, you can sign up for another one.

The library is more than just books

The Museum Pass is only one of the features that the SPL offers outside of checking out books. “We think of the library as only having books, [but] libraries are centers for connection for our communities,” Nelson notes.

A simple search on the SPL website reveals the myriad of resources available to the community – English language classes, employment assistance, internet access, homework help for youth, tax filing, and legal assistance are some of the services available to library patrons.

KCLS park and museum pass program

If you’re not a part of the Seattle Public Library system, the King County Library System also has a similar program that allows individuals to sign up for museum passes. There is also an opportunity to sign out a Discover Pass so patrons can check out local parks without enduring the cost of the park pass. Check out the KCLS website for participating museums.

As you look for activities to do with your family around the city, be sure to consider the Museum Pass program. Plan in advance, be open to trying something new, and enjoy this amazing resource from the SPL!

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About the Author

Ellie White

Ellie had the privilege of growing up in our beautiful Pacific Northwest. She currently lives in the Green Lake neighborhood with her husband and twin toddlers.