Have you thought about buying a membership to a museum or zoo but wondered if it was worth it? Or maybe you have heard friends talk about having a membership and wondered just what that is about. Today I’m going to give you the low-down on some memberships so you can make the decision for yourself.
So is a museum or zoo membership worth the cost?
The first thing I want you to do is to ask yourself some questions:
Will we go here more than once in a year?
If your answer is yes, then you might want to consider a membership to save money on admission, parking and program fees over the course of time.
Do we travel to other metropolitan areas?
If your answer is yes, you might be able to get in FREE or for a discounted admission at places in other cities by using your membership as some memberships offer a travel program.
Is this a non-profit organization I want to support?
Many museums are non-profit and depend membership to help support their program. Often times, if they are non-profit, your membership fee may also be full or partially considered tax-deductible. Be sure to check an organization’s website to see if they make a note of this or call them and ask. FYI – both the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Minnesota Zoo have on their websites that membership fees are fully/partially tax-deductible. Our membership to the Steele County Historical Society is also tax-deductible.
Am I required to have a membership to go here or use its programming?
Some places may require a membership to take full advantage of all their offerings, so in this case you may not have a choice. My Owatonna Art Center membership is like that. I can tour the museum for free, but if I would like to use the various art studios I need to have a membership.
So, has that helped you make an informed decision about evaluating memberships? Not yet?
I suppose you are wondering just where we have memberships to and why and even if you aren’t, you might learn some valuable information to help you make a decision on memberships in Minnesota.
Places we currently have a membership:
- Science Museum of Minnesota (we only need to go here 1 1/2 times before we start saving money, so we are saving money on our second visit, PLUS…..we use it to get FREE admission when we travel because it is part of the ASTC Travel Passport Program. We have used it at three places in Chicago, one in Orlando, one in Green Bay, one in Portland, & one in Seattle and got free admission at all of them!)
- Minnesota Zoo (pays for itself on your second visit. We usually get this one every other year, but have used the membership to get 50% off admission at zoos in Portland, Green Bay & Milwaukee.
- Steele County Historical Society (this is a local place that we wanted to help support, but we also get free admission (not program fees) to all of the Minnesota Historical Society sites.)
- Owatonna Arts Center (the museum has free admission but this is another local place we support and need to pay for a membership to use the pottery studio.)
- River Bend Nature Center (another case of a local place that is free to go to that we go to frequently, but our membership will also give us a discount on camps, classes, and other special events.)
- Minnesota State Parks (this is a vehicle admission sticker and we typically visit state parks often enough throughout the year to justify the sticker price).
Places we used to have a membership to that you could consider:
- Children’s Museum of Minnesota (we just let that one expire because my oldest is outgrowing it, but it a great place and have a travel reciprocity program with some memberships)
- SEA Life Aquarium (if you go to the Mall of America as a destination enough that you will go here at least twice, this is worth it so that you can go there as much as you want. We usually rotate this membership every other year with the MN Zoo, you can also get in other SEA Life aquariums if they are where you are traveling.)
Places we may plan to get a membership in the future:
- National Parks. Fourth Graders and their families get a free admission pass through the end of August 2016. (We qualify this year!!)
- Minnesota Historical Society If you don’t get a membership, keep in mind they have a program for 6th graders to get FREE admission (not family and siblings, though.)
If you plan to use it, a membership to a museum, zoo, or other attraction can be a great way to explore your community while on a budget.
Money Beagle says
We have two such memberships. One is to our local zoo and the other is to a local museum. In both cases, our breakeven point is to go at least three times per year, and in both cases we go at least 6-8 times each, so we well exceed the cost benefit. We’ve been members of both for years so we definitely have it down pat!
Your National Parks pass link comes up as a 414 error…..
Christina Brown says
Whoops! Sorry about that! It’s fixed now!
Since when I first wrote this and submitted it we did get our Free National Parks pass for 4th graders and their families. The Mississippi River Center at the Science Museum of MN is run by the NPS, so we did our forms there so we already had the pass and the brochure. We plan to use this pass for our vacation this summer and will go to 3-4 national parks hopefully. The Ice Age Trail that is part of the NPS runs through Devils Lake State Park in Baraboo, WI honors your NPS pass and doesn’t make you pay vehicle admission, otherwise as out-of-state we would have to pay $11 to get in. We are hoping to go check out that state park and the trail one day this summer when we meet family in the Dells.
Elizabeth O. says
For me, it definitely is. Museums and zoos are always fun for kids and it’s quite educational too. I wouldn’t mind going there twice a year or even more, so a membership would be nice.
Adriana Martin says
I think is worth it if you go several times a year, attending to museums and zoos is great educational experience for our children and also for the adults.
I am not much museum type girl. So, I don’t think membership for museum is a good idea for me. But, membership for zoo sounds so much fun.
We usually don’t get memberships because we don’t visit the locations enough to merit the prices. However, we did become members of a non-profit organization that organizes numerous events and it provides great discounts to fascinating lectures, workshops and events. So we’re very happy with that investment. :)
carmela mempin says
Such a great place to visit with the kiddos for sure they will enjoy visiting there :) Hoping that soon we can visit.
Erinn S says
My son’s birthday is in May and every year my Mom gets us a zoo membership. It completely pays for itself all summer long and on breaks and winter zoo lights entrances
Lisa Rios says
My kids loves visiting museum and zoos. But we don’t have any membership cards from any zoo or museum yet. After reading this, I think it is always good to check out for the membership cards for my kids as it sounds worthy for sure.