Cultural Memberships: The Gift That Keeps on Giving


A family membership to a local museum, zoo, theater or nature center is just the ticket to a year full of meaningful together time. But that’s only one reason why annual admission packages make an almost perfect holiday present for both recipient and giver.



Membership Costs

DE: Center for the Creative Arts, Yorklyn: $80 family membership.
Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington: $125 for family of four includes discounts on summer art camp and studio art classes as well as member privileges for two adults at 130-plus art museums.
Delaware Children’s Museum
, Wilmington: $140 Discovery membership (family of four) includes discounts at the Brandywine ZooLongwood GardensWinterthur and other attractions; $150 Explorer membership includes half-price admission for up to six at 200-plus kids’ museums nationwide.
Delaware Museum of Natural History, Wilmington: $60 household membership includes half-priced admission to Dino Days.
Delaware Theatre Company, Wilmington: $140 Flex Pass subscription for four tickets to any performance.
NJ: Adventure Aquarium, Camden: $185 (2 adults, 4 kids).
Garden State Discovery Museum, Cherry Hill: $114 family membership (2 adults, all kids under 18 in household); $135 includes aforementioned ACM reciprocity.
Howell Living History Farm, Lambertville: $100 family membership includes two tickets for Saturday kids’ craft workshops.
Tuckerton Seaport, Tuckerton: $40 family membership.
PA: Barnes Foundation, Phila.: $150-$249 contributor level (2 adults, all kids under 18 in the household).
Franklin Institute, Phila.: $120 family membership (2 adults, 4 kids); $185 FamilyMax allows for two extra guests per visit and science center reciprocity.
National Constitution Center, Phila.: $95 family membership includes admission for one extra guest per visit.
National Liberty Museum, Phila.: $60 family membership includes $60 worth of gift store merchandise.
National Museum of American Jewish History, Phila.: $90 family membership includes members-only viewing hours.
Philadelphia Zoo: $115 family membership (entire household) includes discount reciprocity to more than 100 zoos nationwide.
Pennsbury Manor, Morrisville: $45 family membership (household); $65 Family Passport includes free admission to PA Trail of History sites.
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Phila.: $80 family membership includes access to all Family Arts Academy programming and discounts for family programs and summer art camp.
Please Touch, Phila.: $150 (family of 4), $180 (family of 6) includes aforementioned ACM reciprocity.
Philadelphia Museum of Art: $185 Family & Friends membership (2 adults, 4 kids) includes two one-time guest passes.
Wagner Free Institute of Science, Phila: $50 family membership includes free course certificates.

Why families love getting memberships

  • Most memberships allow unlimited free visits per year, plus exclusive “members only” benefits like previews of new exhibits, by-invitation parties and exclusive monthly newsletters or magazines.
  • Some organizations’ memberships are reciprocal, which means families can use them at similar venues in other cities and states. For example, the Franklin Institute is part of the nationwide Association of Science Centers; therefore, members can parlay their pass to visit science centers 90 miles or more away.
  • Members receive discounts at venue gift shops and restaurants as well as on classes, on-site kid birthday parties, special programs, workshops, lectures and summer or school day-off camps.
  • For a small fee, many annual memberships allow the option of including two extra guests on the card, so grandparents or buddies can tag along.
  • Memberships guarantee a year’s worth of free fun for budget-minded families.
  • A venue membership lets family members share different passions and expand each other’s horizons.

Why you’ll love giving memberships

  • Family memberships tend to be a bargain, especially given the frequency of use and number of people covered.
  • Memberships are usually taxdeductible, resulting in even more savings for the giver.
  • Investing in local not-for-profits keeps the venues financially stable, allows them to continue their mission of public education and helps their communities remain culturally vibrant.
  • In many instances, membership dollars support the care and display of historically significant artifacts.
  • Memberships are quick and easy to purchase. Most local organizations have membership information and downloadable applications on their websites. If you’d rather speak with a real person, dedicated membership representatives can set up the package via phone or on-site.

Sue Henninger is a freelance writer.


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