Program includes 16-hundred museums nationwide.
This summer, active military members and their families can visit 1,600 museums across the nation for free. More than 40 of them are in New York City.
The National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) and Blue Star Families introduced the program three years ago. The program has more than doubled in size since 2010, and it’s adding 300 new museums this year. The participating sites include art museums, science centers, history museums, nature centers and about 70 children's museums.
NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman says the program is a way for museums to thank military men and women, and give them some quality family time.
"For military families who have a serviceman posted overseas, or getting together with a serviceman on limited amount of leave, it gives them something to do that is affordable and accessible," Landesman said.
It comes at an important time for military families and can be a way to welcome military families to new communities as they often relocate, said Navy Capt. Brad Cooper, executive director of Joining Forces.
"A large percentage of moves happen over the course of the summer," often from one end of the country to the other, Cooper said. Opening access to museums "really just opens up the aperture of what families are able to do in their travels and their vacation time," he said.
Landesman says it's good for museums, too.
"This is both an opportunity to thank military families for their service and sacrifice, as well as a chance to create connections between museums and these families that will continue throughout the year," he said.
The expanded Blue Star Museums initiative will be announced Tuesday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The offer of free admission runs from Memorial Day until Labor Day at sites nationwide.