What is the value of having access to over 800 indoor playgrounds around North America, where you and you family can explore for one modest annual fee?
Thanks to the North American Reciprocal Museum Association, purchasing the reciprocal membership at your local art museum means unlimited interesting days of creative adventure in your hometown and a tremendous value when traveling. “Can you imagine a world where children grow up playing in art museums?” Executive Director of the Columbus Museum of Art, Nannette Maciejunes asked.
Membership prices vary at each museum. The Columbus Museum of Art, at 480 East Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio, reopened October 25, 2015 with the completion of the 50,000 square foot Margaret M. Walter wing. Daily Admission is $14 per adult and $6 per child. The reciprocal membership is $120 per year. So, three museum trips a year for a family of four is the break even point, and more than that is a travel bonus!
If you don’t live in North America or your home town doesn’t have a museum, simply purchase a membership at the first museum you visit. Museum memberships last for one year.
Exploring art museums with the family can open children’s minds to new experiences and new ways of learning. “We’re standing in Columbus at a unique point in time,” commented principal Architect Michael Bongiorno of DesignGroup, on the recent renovation of the building. “Columbus is experiencing a renaissance, and I believe visitors will be looking at the museum in a new way.”
The new museum is much more that a building with large rooms filled with paintings. Executive Director Maciejunes believes, “this exciting endeavor is a shift from just talking about the works hanging on the wall to talking about how art connects people to themselves, their community, and their world.” The museum accomplishes this in many ways.
Upon entering the Columbus Museum of Art, the first things the visitor sees are the open, cheery Museum shop on the left and the Schokko Art Café on the right. Visitors can shop and eat at the museum without even paying admission or flashing a membership card, although members do receive 10% off purchases in the café and gift shop.
A partnership with the much respected Cameron Mitchell Catering makes the café more than just a place to fill empty stomachs on a day out. Salads of local greens and farm fresh ingredients, sandwiches and burgers decorated with quality accompaniments, and a kids menu with many childhood favorites could easily be a highlight of the day. Beer and wine service and a choice of five entrees make the museum a destination for a full sized meal.
Large glass doors that open onto the sculpture garden give the café an outdoor feel. Added patio seating in the sculpture garden makes a great place to relax for lunch when the weather cooperates. Study for Strings by Scottish Artist and Turner Prize winner Susan Phillipsz is the first sound sculpture acquired by the museum. It provides pleasant background music, all conducted by nature, while dining on the patio of the café or strolling through the sculpture garden.
As the café is pleasing to the palette, the Museum Shop is visually enticing. The glass exterior walls bring in natural light, while the bright white interior walls and colorful displays of merchandise peak ones curiosity.
This museum isn’t just for the famous artists whose works hang on the walls. “We value new creativity and messy creativity,” one associate commented. Thus, the Center for Creativity was born. In this space on the first floor, people of all ages and abilities can produce music and art. There are many scheduled programs, but Saturdays from 1-3 pm are always Open Studio, where anyone can drop in to participate in theme based activities.
The studio uses a variety of materials including recyclables, pine cones, buttons, shells, old photos, and magazines. Molly Uline-Olmstead, the manager of the studio initiative says, “We work with unique, funky materials because we want to provoke more questions than answers.” Sounds like fun to me.
The Columbus Museum of Art owns over 10,000 objects, and 375 works will be on display for its re-opening. Thirty-three new additions to the Museum’s collection will be added soon. Fourteen works will be installed outside the museum around the grounds.
Because not all works are on display all the time, having an annual membership makes it easy to return often to see new things. Over three hundred works is too many to see in one visit, and would be exhausting to parents and children alike. Being able to pop into a museum for a couple of hours, or to not feel pressure to see everything because you paid for it and don’t want to pay to come back, is another reason a membership is beneficial.
Columbus, Ohio is located in the center of the state at the intersection of I-70 and I-71. The downtown location of the museum makes it accessible to highways and downtown hotels. Parking at the museum is free for members and just $1 per hour for non-members. A COGO bike share station is just outside the museum, providing bicycle access for those staying at downtown hotels and the surrounding area. Sundays are always free for everyone, regardless of membership status.