How often do you visit Maine museums? Have you ever considered joining your favorite Maine museum as a member?
As that old credit card commercial once said, membership has benefits. And, in my opinion, one of the best benefits of museum membership is reciprocal admission.
Reciprocal admission and museum membership
Reciprocal museum admission refers to membership programs that allow access to multiple participating cultural institutions through a single membership. For example, if you were to become a member of the Portland Museum of Art, you would also have admission access, for free, to thousands of places.
Reciprocal museum networks
That’s because the Portland Museum of Art participates in three different reciprocal museum networks. They are:
- NARM (North American Reciprocal Museum Association)
- MARP (Museum Alliance Reciprocal Program)
- ROAM (Reciprocal Organization of Associated Museums)
Your access to these networks depend on your level of membership at the Portland Museum of Art.
For example, everyone who gets a family-level membership — currently $115 annually — enjoys reciprocal admission to NARM institutions.
NARM includes more than 1,300 different arts, cultural, and historical institutions in the United States, Bermuda, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico and Mexico.
Join at the Ambassador level at PMA and you’ll get reciprocal access to NARM and ROAM. ROAM includes cultural institutions in the U.S. and Canada, plus the Cayman Islands, Colombia, Mexico and Panamá.
And so on with membership levels and reciprocity.
Find out how Mexico, Maine got its name.
Other Maine museum memberships with reciprocal admission programs
The Portland Museum of Art is hardly the only cultural institution in Maine with a reciprocal admission program. Here are other ones you might want to visit or join in Southern Maine or on a day trip to other parts of the state.
Many of these museums participate in Museums for All. That’s the program that offers SNAP EBT recipients free or significantly reduced admission to museums.
Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine
Reciprocal admission doesn’t come automatically with a Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine membership. However, if you add $30 to your membership — a two-person membership costs $130 today — then you get access to the Association of Children’s Museums Reciprocal Network. This provides 50 percent off admission to 200 children’s museums in North America and abroad.
Using the Reciprocal Organization of Associated Museums list as my guide, I found these other Maine institutions that offer reciprocal admission programs:
- Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland (ROAM privileges may be restricted for concerts/lectures/special exhibitions and ticketed events.)
- Maine Historical Society, Portland
- University of Maine Museum of Art, Bangor
NARM cultural institutions
The North American Reciprocal Museum Association has the most Maine institutions because it includes historical societies, homes and sites as well as museums. They are:
- Abbe Museum, Bar Harbor
- Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick
- Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland
- Historic New England | Hamilton House, South Berwick
- Lincoln County Historical Association | Chapman-Hall House, Damariscotta
- Lincoln County Historical Association | Pownalborough Court House, Dresden
- Lincoln County Historical Association | Wiscasset Old Jail, Wiscasset
- Maine Historical Society, Portland
- Maine Maritime Museum, Bath
- Maine Mineral & Gem Museum, Bethel
- Pejepscot Historical Society: Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum, SkolfieldWhittier House, PHS Museum & Research Center, Brunswick
- Penobscot Marine Museum, Searsport
- Seal Cove Auto Museum, Seal Cove
- The Brick Store Museum, Kennebunk
- Washburn-Norlands Living History Center, Livermore
- Zillman Art Museum – University of Maine, Bangor
Maine museum membership benefits
In addition to enjoying free, reciprocal admission to other museums, there are other benefits to becoming a member of Maine museums.
- You’ll get a discount at the gift shop or museum restaurant, if there is one.
- If the museum has special events, you’ll be the first invited.
- Oftentimes, you’ll get early admittance into new exhibits.
- And if the museum holds camps or classes, you’ll often get early signup or a discount — or both.
You can often find free and cheap things to do at Maine museums. This weekly roundup of what to do in Southern Maine can help identify those activities.