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A child examines a map and newspaper at the Weems-Botts Museum in Dumfries, which offers free admission to service members and their families through Labor Day.

With COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, the 2021 Blue Star Museums program launched earlier this month and runs through Sept. 6. Participating museums include children’s museums, art museums, history and science museums, zoos, nature centers and more.

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration between the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and museums across America. It offers free admission to the nation’s currently-serving military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve.

“We are grateful for the many organizations that have signed up for the Blue Star Museums program this summer, demonstrating strength and resiliency on the heels of a very challenging period for the arts sector,” said Ann Eilers, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

“We are pleased to collaborate with Blue Star Families and the Department of Defense on this initiative, and hopeful it will provide the opportunity for military families to engage together at museums while strengthening ties to their community.”

Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families, said the group is excited about the program.

“The impact that this program has on our members is tremendous and something they look forward to each year,” she added. “It is wonderful to offer military families the opportunity to explore the arts with their loved ones and create lasting memories."

Blue Star Museums began in an effort to improve the quality of life for active-duty military families, especially focusing on the approximately 2 million children who have had at least one parent deployed since 2001. The program offers families a chance to visit museums this summer when many will have limited resources and time together.

The program is available for those currently serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, as well as active duty and Reservists, National Guardsman (regardless of status), U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps, NOAA Commissioned Corps, and up to five family members.

Qualified members must show a common access card, active duty card or dependent ID card for free entrance into a participating Blue Star Museum.

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