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Museums offer free admission to military families

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Active-duty servicemembers and their families will gain
free access to hundreds of museums throughout the nation this summer, thanks
to a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and Blue Star
Families.

More than 600 museums in 50 states and the District of Columbia have signed
up so far to participate in Operation Appreciation: Blue Star Museums. The
program offers active-duty servicemembers -- including activated guardsmen
and Reserve members-- and up to five of their immediate family members free
admission to participating museums from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

"The Blue Star Museums initiative is a tangible expression of appreciation
to servicemembers and their families," said Barbara Thompson, the director
of the Pentagon's office of family policy, children and youth. "It warms our
hearts to see how other federal agencies and local communities can think
creatively to recognize their sacrifice and contribution to the nation."

People can visit http://www.arts.gov/national/bluestarmuseums/index.php for
a complete list of participating museums that run the gamut from children's
and fine arts to history and science museums. Participating museums include
the Art Institute of Chicago, Dallas Museum of Art, Los Angeles County
Museum of Art, Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, Museum of Modern Art and
the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and all of New Mexico's 14
state-run museums and historic monuments.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for servicemembers and their families to
enjoy the cultural experiences that might have otherwise been inaccessible
because of cost," Ms. Thompson said. "We truly appreciate the generosity of
the National Endowment for the Arts and the participating museums."
While admission is free of charge, some special or limited-time exhibits may
not be included in the program, according to a Blue Star Museums news
release. People should contact the museum directly for specifics.

"There have always been wonderful examples of partnerships between museums
and military installations, but the scale of this gift from the museum
community to military families is thrilling," said Kathy Roth-Douquet, the
chairman of Blue Star Families. "Military families work hard for this
country, and it is gratifying for us to be recognized for that.
"We anticipate that thousands of military families will participate in the
program and visit museums this summer, many of them for the first time," she
said. "Blue Star Families will work hard to help our military families make
the most of these opportunities."

A group of military spouses formed Blue Star Families in December 2008 to
raise awareness of the challenges of military family life in partnership
with civilian communities and leaders, according to the organization's
website. The nonprofit group has grown to include spouses and families from
all services and walks of life, including National Guard and Reserve
members, as well as veterans and civilians.
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