Free Museum Program Returns to CT for Summer

Children in Connecticut can visit more than 130 museums for free this summer through Connecticut Summer at the Museum, according to an announcement from Governor Ned Lamont. The program began in 2021 and comes at a time when many students have missed out on hands-on educational opportunities. Aimed at providing children with meaningful learning experiences during the summer, the program also provides low-income families with easier access to state cultural resources.

“Free admission to the museum is a great way to spark children’s curiosity and keep them engaged ahead of the next school year, continuing their learning at no cost to mom and dad,” said Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz.

Kate Davis from Avon took advantage of the program last year and visited a few places with her two children 0151 one in high school and one in elementary school. It’s hard to find places they’ll both enjoy, but Davis said they’ve visited a number of places in the past year, including Connecticut Science Center, Roaring Brook Nature Center, Old Connecticut State House and the New Britain Youth Museum. The family particularly enjoyed the playground and the educational toys in the youth museum.

“We’ve been back several times since last year,” Davis said in a Facebook Messenger interview. “This year we will also try some new ones. This list makes it easy to find potential places to visit.

The program is funded by $15 million in federal COVID-19 recovery funding the state received from the American Rescue Plan Act, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

More than 120 grants have been awarded to museums, based on the museum’s average revenue from children’s admissions and the general operating budget. To participate in the program, Connecticut children under the age of 18 and an accompanying adult can receive free admission to participating museums through September 5. However, each participating museum has different programming and ticketing policies. Connecticut Summer at the Museum recommends parents and guardians check with the museum for specific policies before scheduling a visit.

Children can visit prestigious museums like the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford, the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport or the Aquarium and Seaport Museum in Mystic. However, with rising inflation and rising gas prices, local museums are also offering kid-friendly programs.

Even though the program has been in place for a week, it is starting to show results. The Barker Character, Comic & Cartoon Museum in Cheshire saw visitor numbers double in the week of July 4, sales manager Allison Fillmore said in a telephone interview.

Featuring a collection of toys for children of all ages, the Barker Museum exhibit includes Howdy Doody puppets, collectible lunch boxes, Star Wars action figures and even a life-size replica of the living room from ‘The Simpsons’ .

“Even though we have toys, it’s the parents and grandparents who walk away with the biggest smiles,” Fillmore said.

Latin American communities reporter Lau Guzmán is a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms. To learn more about RFA, visit www.reportfor america.org. Guzmán can be contacted at [email protected] Twitter: @lauguzm_n

About Bobby F. Lopez

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