NORWALK, CT - Today, Stepping Stones Museum for Children announces it will join museums nationwide in participating in the tenth summer of Blue Star Museums, a program which provides free admission to our nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families this summer. The 2019 program will begin earlier than in past years, launching on Saturday, May 18, 2019, Armed Forces Day, and ending on Monday, September 2, 2019, Labor Day. Military can find the list of participating museums at arts.gov/bluestarmuseums. Since 2012 when the award-winning children’s museum first joined the nationwide program, Stepping Stones has not only offered free admission during the summer months, but thanks to tremendous local support, it has extended the free offer all year long.
Blue Star Museums is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in collaboration with Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums nationwide. First Lady of the United States Melania Trump and Second Lady of the United States Karen Pence are honorary co-chairs of Blue Star Museums 2019.
“Active-duty military families sacrifice so much in the name of protecting us and our way of life.” explained Rhonda Kiest, CEO and President of Stepping Stones Museum. “We jumped at the chance to participate in this tremendous program as a way to give back to these deserving families. From our first days of participation in the Blue Star Museums program, we had such an incredible, immediate response from our local community that we knew we needed to offer the program’s benefits year-round. To date, more than 9,500 children and their families have received free admission to the museum through the program.”
Stepping Stones participation in the Blue Star Museum program is a component of its Open Arms accessibility initiative. Through Open Arms, the museum has provided thousands of children, caregivers and teachers the opportunity to enjoy its inviting, welcoming and diverse learning community which values and celebrates all children and families for their similarities and uniqueness, broad-ranging abilities, experiences, interests, needs and perspectives. The initiative offers monthly Get Into It! FREE evenings, monthly ACCESS-ability afternoons, parent workshops, free traveling exhibits for schools and numerous other educational experiences to inspire lifelong learning.
“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to celebrate the tenth summer of collaborating with Blue Star Families, Department of Defense, and especially the more than 2,000 museums across our nation that make this program possible, “ said Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “Organizations such as Stepping Stones Museum for Children are providing wonderful opportunities for military families to share a memorable experience together this summer.”
This year’s participating organizations include fine art, science, history, and children’s museums, as well as zoos, aquariums, gardens, and more. Museums are welcome to sign up for Blue Star Museums throughout the summer at arts.gov.
“We've seen the tremendous impact the Blue Star Museums program brings to our military families, and we're thrilled to be celebrating a decade of support,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, chief executive officer of Blue Star Families. “Not only are museums fun to explore, but they are also great for making memories and strengthening military families as a whole.”
“The Defense Department congratulates Blue Star Families and the National Endowment for the Arts on reaching an incredible milestone: ten years of service to the military community though Blue Star Museums,” said A.T. Johnston, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Military Community and Family Policy. “We offer our sincere gratitude to the more than 2,000 museums across the country who open their doors through this wonderful program. Your patriotism and generosity have enriched the lives and experiences of our military families.”
The free admission program is available for those currently serving in the United States Military—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard as well as members of the Reserves, National Guard, U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps, NOAA Commissioned Corps, and up to five family members. Qualified members must show a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), DD Form 1173 ID card (dependent ID), or a DD Form 1173-1 ID card for entrance into a participating Blue Star Museum.
Follow Blue Star Museums on Twitter @NEAarts and @BlueStarFamily, #bluestarmuseums.