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.