Every year since 1977 museums around the globe have celebrated “International Museum Day” with free admission, special offers or admission discounts. More than 30,000 museums in more than 100 countries organize “International Museum Day” activities, according to the Central Arizona Museum Association (also known as CAMA).
CAMA describes itself as “a regional consortium of museums dedicated to fostering professional development and promoting museums in Gila, Maricopa, Pinal, and Yavapai Counties.” The CAMA website lists more than 50 museums, and lets you search museums by name, location or type.
“International Museum Day” is designed to raise awareness about the vital role museums play in their communities. As summer months with soaring temperatures loom, they’re especially important for Valley families who seek cool places to enjoy educational and entertaining experiences together.
If you’re only visiting museums when traveling other places for business or pleasure, you’re missing some of the world’s great museums right here in your own backyard — like the Musical Instrument Museum and Heard Museum, both in Phoenix. For children, we’ve got the Children’s Museum of Phoenix and the Arizona Museum for Youth.
Here’s a sampling of Valley museums offering special pricing for “International Museum Day” this year (with thanks to the fine folks at CAMA for putting this list together)…
Arizona Historical Society Museum at Papago Park in Tempe offers free admission Wed, May 18 from 10am-4pm.
Arizona Military Museum in Phoenix offers free admission Wed, May 18 from 1-4pm.
Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa offers one free admission with the purchase of another (free admission must be equal to or less than the price of the purchased ticket) Wed, May 18 from 1-4pm.
Barbara Anderson Girl Scout Museum in Phoenix offers free admission Wed, May 18 from 9am-4pm.
Deer Valley Rock Art Center in Phoenix offers two-for-one admission Wed, May 18 from 8am-2pm.
Heard Museum in Phoenix and North Scottsdale offers two-for-one admission (for up to four people) Wed, May 18 from 9:30am-5pm.
Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix offers $5 off admission and “a range of free performances and demonstrations” Thurs, May 19 from 5-9pm.
Pueblo Grande Museum and Archeological Park in Phoenix offers free admission Wed, May 18 from 9am-4:45pm.
River of Time Museum in Fountain Hills offers free admission Wed, May 18 from 1-4pm.
Scottsdale Historical Museum in Scottsdale offers free admission Wed, May 18 from 10am-5pm.
Shemer Art Center and Museum offers free admission Wed, May 18 from 10am-3pm.
Call ahead if you plan to tour with a large group, and remember that most offers cannot be combined with other discounts or coupons. In some cases, museum gift shops are offering discounts.
Make museum visits more enjoyable by taking children when they’re well rested, letting children help decide which museums to visit and taking along items children can use to make museum visits more fun (a camera, if allowed — or paper and colored pencils for drawing what they see).
Keep visits shorter for younger children, leaving before they get too frazzled even if it means you’re unable to see everything a particular museum has to offer during a single trip. Consider buying memberships at favorite museums — which make shorter, more frequent trips economical and offer other benefits like gift shop savings.
Look for museums with hands-on activities that engage children’s bodies and minds. Choose museums for playdates, and add a picnic lunch or park time into the mix. Think museums for family get-togethers so nobody has to clean house and the turf feels neutral.
And when you need some time away from the kiddos, consider a stroll through your local museum. Museums are perfect for enjoying quiet time and peaceful reflection. Just promise me you won’t hole up there for the night…
Note: Always call ahead to confirm museum location/directions, days/hours of operation and ticketing information. And remember that museum exhibits are noted in both the print and online editions of the Raising Arizona Kids Magazine calendar.
Coming up: A sweet theater find
Update: The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is also offering free admission and special activities on Wed, May 18 for International Museum Day. And the Phoenix Art Museum has announced that their members receive free admission to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix and the Arizona Science Center, also in central/downtown Phoenix, May 18-22 (just show your membership card).