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Central Coast museums offer Museums for All program

Museums for All was launched in 2014 by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Association of Children’s Museums to remove barriers and increase access to museums for low-income families. Currently, more than 700 locations participate nationwide — including several on the Central Coast.

The museums offer reduced admission fees of $3 or less per person (up to four people) to visitors who present their SNAP/CalFresh EBT card. This means a family of four can visit for $12 or less.

Eighteen museums in Santa Barbara County joined Museums for All this summer – including the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Briana Sapp, the museum’s director of marketing, said the reduced ticket price makes museums more inclusive and welcoming, and creates a variety of learning opportunities for all ages.

“Museums are a great place for out-of-classroom learning. We really consider ourselves an education program first and foremost,” Sapp said.

Further north, in San Luis Obispo County, SLO Children’s Museum also participates in the program. Sheryl Flores, director of operations, said they joined Museums for All about five years ago.

“We wanted to make it more accessible, and it’s been well received. We have many members from our community and elsewhere come through our doors,” Flores said.

Flores said the museum has three floors of exhibits for kids. A new exhibit called Mission to Mars provides an interactive experience with a land rover, robotic arm, and mission control center.

“We have over 50 exhibits, so when they come in, they’re not only playing and having fun, they also have the educational layer as well,” she said.

More than 20 museums on the Central Coast, including zoos and aquariums, offer reduced entry fees for families that qualify. Find a full list of participating locations by going to the Museums for All website.

Beth Thornton is a freelance reporter for KCBX, and a contributor to Issues & Ideas. She was a 2021 Data Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, and has contributed to KQED's statewide radio show The California Report.
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