Many memberships to art, science, children’s museums and gardens offer an added benefit: reciprocal memberships. Meaning, by being a member at one museum, you can visit another for a discount, or for free. My own family took advantage of our Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden membership to visit Norfolk Botanical Gardens for free!
I caught up with three Moms who are “membership-reciprocity pros”! These Moms utilize their memberships to experience different museums all over the U.S. Here’s what they had to say:
Victoria Solderitch: We use reciprocal memberships when we travel. Usually, anytime we travel, I check the membership lists, so we can have 1-2 days of free activities, and low key, kid-paced things to do.
We have a family membership to the Science Museum of Virginia. We have visited the following places using the SMV’s reciprocity: The Life Science Museum in Durham, the Orlando Science Center, Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, and the Greensboro Science Center, Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, and the Long Island Explorium in Port Jefferson, NY.
Finally, with our Children’s Museum of Richmond membership, we’ve visited Marbles in Raleigh, Kidzu Chapel Hill, Children’s Museum Wilmington, Long Island Children’s Museum and Children’s Museum of Manhattan.
Allena Anglen: With many of the membership swaps you have to be 90 miles as the crow flies, so I reached out to my friend, Allena, guru of all family-fun in the Tidewater area, which is exactly 90 miles from RVA. Here’s what she shared:
We are members of the Children’s Museum of Virginia, and our family has enjoyed visiting The Children’s Museum of Richmond, Science Museum of Virginia, VMFA and Virginia Museum of History & Culture. Additionally, we’ve traveled a lot to Raleigh and used our memberships at Marbles, a children’s museum, and the North Carolina Science Museum. Going further north, we’ve also put our memberships to work at Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore and Pittsburgh Children’s Museums. This summer, we’ll use our membership at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens to visit Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens for free.
The following museums in Hampton Roads are all part of the ASTC (The Association of Science and Technology Centers): The Children’s Museum of Virginia, Nauticus, and the Virginia Living Museum. In Richmond, the American Civil War Museum, VMFA, Wilton House Museum, and the Virginia Museum of History & Culture are all part of the North American Reciprocal Museum Association, so anyone with those memberships, can get into The Hermitage Museum or the Children’s Museum of Virginia(both in the Tidewater region).
We visited the expansive Fort Worth Botanic Garden twice (it’s really big) for free with our Lewis Ginter annual membership. These were awesome experiences for the kids and included with memberships we already have!
In closing, using memberships is an excellent way to create new experiences while saving money. A few tips as you plan to visit a museum, using your reciprocal membership benefits:
*Bring your ID and membership card.
*Call ahead to verify reciprocity will be honored, and how many visitors are eligible for benefits.
*Ask about other benefits included in your memberships: parking, IMAX showings, special events.
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Lindsay Garrison loves Richmond and is proud to raise her own family here. As a teacher for 12 years, she learned how to save, budget and stretch every penny. Additionally, she led groups of students to Europe annually, and took great pride in planning affordable, fun-filled trips. She transferred those skills to her daily life and shares them with readers of RVA on the Cheap. Lindsay utilizes RVA on the Cheap to make enriching life experiences accessible to all. Check her instagram: rva.familyfun for more affordable family adventures!