Blue Star Museums 2016 Recap

Published: October 19, 2016

Like the Olympics in Rio, the Blue Star Museum Program set records this summer too!

  • 2,052 museums participated, more than any prior season.
  • 18 signature museum events took place from Alaska to Florida, from Tacoma to Texas, helping families connect and create special memories. Blue Star Families dressed up like baseball players in Washington, DC and like cowboys in San Antonio, went on scavenger hunts in Anchorage and Jacksonville, and met animals in Lincoln, MA and Walnut Creek, CA.
  • Hundreds of thousands of families took advantage of the free summer admission to visit zoos and aquariums, historic sites and military museums, nature centers and art museums.

Then, you told us all about it!

We followed your 1,996 tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts.
We marveled at the artistic talent of your children’s entries to the Way Cool Creativity Contest. We thrilled to see the Parent Tool Kit downloaded 1,259 times.
And, most importantly, we poured over the 689 survey results Blue Star Families like yours shared with us.

Highlights of our findings:

  • 97% visited museums with their families.
  • 61% visited more than 2 museums.
  • 18% visited museums while PCS’ing or while visiting relatives
  • 15% visited a museum for the first time as a direct result of this program!
  • 64% said they would like to be more engaged with the museum in their community as a result of this experience.
  • 87% strongly agree that they feel more connected to their family as a result of Blue Star Museums.
  • 94% strongly agree that this program makes them feel their family’s service is appreciated.
  • 83% strongly agree that this program helps their family adjust to the stresses of the military lifestyle.
  • 44% visited a museum because they have visited Blue Star Museums in the past or because there was a special Blue Star Families event.

And we learned a lot about how we can improve too!

  • 44% of the people who responded to the survey did not visit a museum this summer.
  • 51% of those who did not visit a museum did not know about the Blue Star Museums program or said that there was not a Blue Star Museum in their community.

We have clear direction moving forward to make sure that all our Blue Star Families know about the program and its wide ranging benefits. And, we need to continue recruiting museums so that there is one in every community across the country. No military family should miss out on the opportunity to enjoy America’s rich cultural resources.

Above all, your comments were the true highlight of the feedback we received. Here are a few that provide insight into the value and significance of the program:

“It’s so nice to be able to give the kids a unique experience without worrying about the money. The kids sacrifice for their country too, giving up mommy/daddy time. This is a great way to help them reconnect but also to help them feel valued and give them a distraction to help cope with it all. I really appreciate this program, and it influenced our family’s decision to continue on with the military into retirement. Sometimes it’s easy to feel unappreciated as the wife of a service member, but this program made me feel valued. Thank you.”

“We went to the Children’s Museum in Pittsburgh this past summer. The admission desk was so kind to our family and thanked us for our service. We made a special trip to the museum while we were visiting the area. I believe the free admission allows families an opportunity to visit a place they may not visit (or normally be able to afford) and encourages them to return as a paying visitor after having an enjoyable experience. This program is wonderful!”

“Over Memorial Day weekend 2016, my family took a weekend trip to Taos, NM (stationed at Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque, NM). I had researched Blue Star Museums ahead of time and discovered the Millicent Rogers Museum was on the list. Knowing nothing about the museum ahead of time, we made sure to include it on our visit. My husband and I learned about Millicent Rogers and her time influencing southwestern art and culture and our 3 kids were exposed to art and culture. During our visit, one of the staff members found us and specifically mentioned that we were their very first Blue Star Family, thanked us for our service and explained that as a museum this was one small way that they could give back to those of us who had given so much. It was a touching and meaningful interaction that would not have happened without Blue Star Museums.”

“We took the most wonderful trip to the Botanical Gardens before my husband deployed and had the best family picture to remember our day while he was gone!”

“After being on an extended deployment this past summer of 2016 we went home to KY and TN to visit family. We found out by chance that the Parthenon in Nashville is a Blue Star participant. Having been to the actual Greek Parthenon my husband was able to explain to our teenage daughters about many of the pictures and artifacts. Other people started engaging him with questions. It was a beautiful sight to watch my husband explain about the images. We actually met a few vets and current military families during the trip.”

We also surveyed the museums who participated this year and wanted to share a few of their comments too:

“We love the Blue Star program not because it offers something for our military families but because it raises awareness that the soldier in the family isn’t the only one who is in the military. The whole family is in the military and programs to support them are essential to the success of the family unit and the soldier.”

“Blue Star allowed us the extra opportunity to reach out to our local marine corps logistics base and other service members as a way to thank them for their role in our nation and community.”

“offering free admission and other programs to vets and blue star families is the least we can do to thank these brave men and women and their families who sacrifice so much. it is our honor to do this small thing.”

“Loved seeing families come and being able to offer them free admission as a thank you for all they’ve done for the country”

The official Blue Star Museums program is closed for the season, but you can still get out and visit a museum in your community. Many continue to offer discounted memberships or free family days throughout the year. When you visit a museum, tell them about the Blue Star Museums program and encourage them to contact us to find out more. Continue using the Parent Tool Kit for activity sheets and games to play at an art museum, zoo or historic site. Ask the museum about volunteer opportunities to stay engaged. If you have any questions, reach out to our Arts Program Senior Manager, Suzi Guardia, at [email protected] who is happy to help you get connected to your local arts scene.

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