Athens, Ga. – The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia became the first museum in the state to commit officially to serving low-income families through the Museums for All program. Organized by the Association of Children’s Museums and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Museums for All encourages families of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly and build lifelong museum habits.
Museums with an admission charge offer reduced or free admission to visitors who present an Electronic Benefits Transfer card. The Georgia Museum of Art already offers free admission to all visitors, thereby removing the need to present a card or an ID. About 15 percent of families living in Athens-Clarke County have incomes below the poverty line.
ACM’s executive director, Laura Huerta Migus, said, “We’re so excited to welcome the Georgia Museum of Art to Museums for All, especially since it is our first Museums for All participant in Georgia. Joining Museums for All is a visible sign of the museum’s commitment to expanding community outreach and showcasing itself as a museum that’s truly for everyone.”
“I’m pleased to welcome the Georgia Museum of Art into the family of Museums for All participants,” said IMLS director Kathryn K. Matthew. “As the first museum in Georgia to sign on to the program, the Georgia Museum of Art is leading by example. Through its community outreach and Museums for All participation, the museum will establish its credentials as a true community cornerstone that is accessible to all.”
Mary Ellen Munley reports for the Smithsonian Institution, in a review of academic literature, that museums “provide a uniquely positive environment to foster learning by young children” and that young children “learn by encountering real artifacts which they talk about with others.”
In addition, Brian Kisida, Jay P. Greene and Daniel H. Bowen reported in the New York Times on a study they conducted at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art that “visiting an art museum exposes students to a diversity of ideas that challenge them with different perspectives on the human condition.” Students who visited Crystal Bridges on school tours “demonstrated stronger critical thinking skills, displayed higher levels of social tolerance, exhibited greater historical empathy and developed a taste for art museums and cultural institutions.” In addition, “most of the benefits [they] observed are significantly larger for minority students, low-income students and students from rural schools.”
As part of the state’s flagship land-grant university, the Georgia Museum of Art has a strong commitment to service and outreach, which is why it offers free admission. By participating in Museums for All, it hopes to make low-income visitors aware of this fact and further broaden and diversify its audience. A full list of participating institutions is available at http://childrensmuseums.org/participating-museums.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning and cultural and civic engagement. Its grant making, policy development and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive.
Partial support for the exhibition and programs at the Georgia Museum of Art is provided by the Georgia Council for the Arts through appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. The council is a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Individuals, foundations and corporations provide additional museum support through their gifts to the University of Georgia Foundation. The Georgia Museum of Art is located in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex on UGA’s East Campus. The address is 90 Carlton St., Athens, Ga., 30602-1502. For more information, including hours, see georgiamuseum.org or call 706-542-4662.