Our Blue Star Families Community Engagement & Training Manager, Leah Love, recently visited one of the many Blue Star Museums that offers FREE admission to Military Families! Read about her experience to the Art Institute of Chicago!


Once when I was 8 years old, my parents dragged me to an art museum in France. Due to my very stubborn display of dislike for walking through an art museum, I missed out on seeing the Mona Lisa. Yep, THE Mona Lisa.

While I may have initially been impressed with my amazing determination to get my Mom to go shopping with me instead of to the Louvre, over time I’ve come to realize that maybe, just maybe, I could have made a better choice (*sigh* yes, maybe I should have stopped being such a brat).

So a few weeks ago with 30 minutes to spare before catching my train in Chicago, I checked out the Blue Star Museums website. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are MANY museums who participate in the Blue Star Museums program!  But I knew I could choose just one. I also knew it would make my art historian Mom super proud if I chose an art museum (childhood guilt!). So I traveled to the Art Institute of Chicago and let me tell you, it was fabulous!

Within steps from each other I saw original works by Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet and Paul Cezanne. I suddenly was having flashbacks from my own high school art history Humanities class when we had to feverishly memorize works of these famous artists. But now, instead of just viewing them in books or on slides, I was seeing them up close and personal! The colors, the textures, watching people of all ages and backgrounds engaging and talking about paintings, furniture, sculpture, photography… it was beautiful! And no, you absolutely don’t need any background in art to enjoy an art museum. We can all appreciate a beautiful landscape, imagining the story behind why just one person in a photo isn’t smiling or admiring how someone’s hands could mold clay into such an amazing likeness to the human face. At its basis, the arts- visual and performing- are really about telling stories- and we can all appreciate a good story!

So if you happen to be spending one last summer weekend in Chicago – or anywhere else before Labor Day – be sure to check out the Blue Star Museums site for access to free museums in your area or anywhere you may be traveling. It will surely be worth the visit!

It only took 30 years Mom, but I hope I made you proud. Now I just need to get back to Paris!

Leah joined Blue Star Famlies as a volunteer in 2014, and eventually joined the staff. As a formal education teacher, she enjoys working directly with people to help them learn and grow. Leah has a BA of Arts in Education from the University of Michigan, is  proud Navy Spouse and loving mother to two sons. To learn more about the Blue Star Families Team, click here.