I Like Free Stuff And I Cannot Lie

I recently ran into someone who was a reader from way back, and she told me about the super-cool library pass program. I’d written about it a long time ago, but now’s a good time to acknowledge that not everyone in the Capital District has read and remembered every single morsel of my blog. And this person was right: it’s a great program. We were chatting about visiting museums, which made me recommend membership to her. And then urged me to make sure people don’t miss this stuff. And she’s totally right. I was going to write something new, but then my membership schpiel was so long, I’m just pasting it in. Which means that the numbers might be outdated, but the point (that memberships, especially with reciprocal programs) are a really great deal. I’m throwing it together so that I can have them, handy, and link to them from my Favorites page for easy reference.

Back in the Ssssshhhh. . . Library Secrets! post, I mentioned various extras that libraries provide, and many of them may be outdated at this point. But I double=checked, and many area libraries continue to offer a special program that allows families to visit museums and other cool cultural destinations. Basically, you check out a pass, use it to visit someplace for FREE, then return the pass. Click the links for more information about the pass programs in Schenectady, Albany, or Troy.

As I said in a post about miSci. . .

When it comes to museums, membership is an awesome plan. Okay, bear with me for a minute here. If you purchase a family membership at miSci, it costs $80.  When you’re members, you get free admission to the museum exhibitions as many times as you want for a full year and 4 free passes into the planetarium. For my family (2 adults, an 8-year-old, and a 10-year-old), a single visit to the museum with the planetarium show would cost $52 and a second visit without the show would cost $32, for a total of $84. So if we visit twice, the membership is a good idea, but then members get other discounts (like $20 off that Spark! series & a 10% discount off birthday parties and at the museum shop).

But it rocks even more than that because of the ASTC Passport Program. Many museums and science centers are members of the Association of Science and Technology Centers, which offers a reciprocal program that allows you to get into a bunch of other museums for free. Now, the one teensy bit of bad news is that the other places you visit have to be at least 90 miles away. CMOST ($80 for a basic membership) is also an ASTC member (so is the NY State Museum, but they’re reworking their membership program right now), membership at either miSci or CMOST will get you these fabulous reciprocal benefits when you travel out of town. So, for example, I could pay $80 for a membership at miSci and then travel to Boston and get out of paying admission for the family to the Boston Museum of Science ($82 for our family) and the Boston Children’s Museum ($56 for our family) or  check out Liberty Science Center ($58.50 for our family). If I made those visits, plus those couple of visits to miSci, I would save $200 in museum admissions!!

And now are you ready for your head to explode? Because miSci and a bunch of other New York museums (including the Albany Institute of History & Art, The Hyde Collection, and The National Museum of Dance) are part of another reciprocal program called the Empire State Reciprocal Membership Program. Free admission for everyone! I feel like Oprah giving out cars!


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