The Spokane County Library District started offering family passes to the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture and Mobius at all its branches in January and they have been flying off the shelves ever since.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said Library Services Manager Gwendolyn Haley. “We have great museums in Spokane.”
Haley had seen the idea work in other cities and was eager to try it in Spokane. Anyone with a Spokane County Library District card can check out a pass that allows free admission for two adults and up to four children. Residents of Spokane can get a Spokane County library card under a reciprocal agreement between the two library systems.
“We have a lot of families who don’t think about going downtown,” said Haley. “We really wanted to remove those barriers.”
The program is a pilot project scheduled to run for a year, but Haley said she’d love to make it permanent. “Our focus really is on creating access to educational opportunities,” she said. “Really, museums are for everybody. It’s our history.”
Each library branch started out with one MAC pass and one Mobius pass that is good for both the Mobius Children’s Museum and the Mobius Science Center. The passes are paid for by the Friends of the Spokane County Library District.
Carol Summers, director of marketing and communications for the MAC, said they liked that the program had a proven track record in cities on the West Side. They were also interested in making the museum available to those who might not otherwise be able to attend.
Studies have shown that kids with cultural experience like visiting museums do better than those who don’t, Summers said.
“It really supports their learning and they do better in school,” she said.
The program has been so popular that the Hagen Foundation in Spokane stepped up to purchase a second set of MAC family passes for each library branch, Haley said.
Families are allowed to keep the passes for seven days but most don’t, Haley said. She estimates the passes are checked out 1.5 times a week. The passes are first come, first serve and holds are not allowed.
If the program continues, Haley would like to include other local museums.
“It’s a win-win for everyone,” she said. “It gets more attention for those museums.”
The best part is that families can check out the passes multiple times as the museums get new exhibits, Haley said.
“It’s always changing,” she said. “It’s always refreshing.”
Summers said the program has been a success and the museum is interested in continuing it. “It’s gone very smoothly,” she said.
It would be even better if there were a way to expand the program and increase the number of available passes, she said.
“It’s possible we could do more, but it just depends on funding,” she said.
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