Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
Starting Saturday, families that receive federal food assistance benefits can visit The DoSeum for $3 a person.
The San Antonio kids museum joined the Museums for All initiative, launched by the Association of Children's Museums and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, to expand access to museums and build lifelong museum-going habits, according to a news release.
“We listen to our guests,” The DoSeum CEO Daniel Menelly said. “We know that many of them struggle day to day financially, and we wanted to be part of a movement nationally that other museums have developed — democratizing access to cultural institutions.”
Under the initiative, people receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program aid who present a SNAP Electronics Benefits Transfer (EBT) card and photo ID can buy up to four tickets for $3 each. There are no blackout dates, but special events are not included.
The museum’s general admission otherwise costs $14 per person and is free for visitors age 1 or younger. Educators and seniors 65 and older receive a $1 discount, while current and former military get $4 off for their own admission as well as their families’ tickets.
The DoSeum had been planning to implement Museums for All for a while, and the decision “evolved deliberately” over time, Menelly said.
“We were really grateful for our board and community to help and shape and structure this,” Menelly said. “This is part of a whole model of diversifying our audience. We want to make sure everyone who wants to participate can find their way to do that.”
In Texas, 15 other institutions participate in the Museums for All initiative, including the Galveston Children’s Museum and the Thinkery and LBJ Presidential Library in Austin. The DoSeum is the first San Antonio institution to join the initiative.
The DoSeum tested $3 admission for people with EBT cards in January and February and saw attendance increase. Sandra Garcia, the museum's vice president of marketing, said more than 2,000 additional people used the promotion. Nearly 43,000 visitors attended in January and February of 2017 and more than 47,000 in 2018, Garcia said.
“What we knew is, in working with several school districts and through outreach programs, that there is a need and also a desire to come more often,” Garcia said. “One look at one of our free family nights and you can see here are a lot of families interested in coming but unable to come as often as they’d like. [Free family nights are] limited to once a month, so we knew there was something we wanted to do to extend that opportunity.”
Garcia said research has shown that families want to pay a small fee when visiting museums to contribute to the institution’s mission.
The $3 admission "seems quite accessible considering other forms of entertainment or other family amusement places that far exceed that,” she said.
More than 250 institutions in more than 40 states participate in Museums for All. Garcia said The DoSeum has always had the same goal as the initiative: to make museums as accessible as possible.
“This is a program that we identified with," she said. "We felt really strongly about what they proposed, which is being able to extend the museum experience to all families.”