Free admission: Smithsonian Museum Day

Mary Spencer, Contributing Writer

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Every year, Smithsonian Magazine sponsors Museum Day. On Saturday, Sept. 26 participating museums across America will accept printable Museum Day tickets as free admission, providing museum attendance for people who otherwise could not or would be reluctant to spend money on admission.

Free admission certainly encourages attendance. Laura Bruck, an art history professor at the University of Dallas, has worked intermittently with the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), which has offered free admission since 2013.

“Attendance has skyrocketed [since free admission was implemented],” Bruck said. “To go to a museum and spend as little or as much time as you want there is a great thing, and sends a message about museums as a place that’s opening and welcoming … not this scary place that seems cold and distant where you’re not allowed to talk”

Bruck sees museums as vital to the UD education, and said that students should use museum visits to supplement their readings of history and classical literature.

“[You] can go look at Greek art that tells those stories,” Bruck said. “[Museums] give you an opportunity to connect with the arts that I think are so important here and to reflect on how artists are connected to the world around them. You’re reading great literature and thinking about the big ideas, and so are visual artists.”

The museums in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex participating in Museum Day focus on vastly different subjects, not just art. The Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance, for example, is also participating in Museum Day. There, visitors can learn about the events surrounding the horrors of the Holocaust. The National Scouting Museum, in UD’s hometown of Irving, will be participating in the day as well and also provides free admission every Sunday and Monday. The National Scouting Museum commemorates the long tradition of scouting, dating all the way back to its founding by Lord Baden-Powell in 1910.

“The Boy Scouts of America is the world’s largest youth serving organization, and so we wanted somewhere that would capture that wonderful, unique history and how that’s so woven into the fabric of American life”, said Janice Babinaeux, director of the Scouting Museum. The museum contains the first eagle medal ever awarded, uniforms from throughout the decades and historical documents like Lord Baden-Powell’s personal papers.The museum contains the world’s largest collection of scout-themed Norman Rockwell paintings, sketches and studies, as well as art by Joseph Csatari and JC Leyendecker. The museum also provides an oral history program, containing footage and audio of men discussing their achievements as boy scouts.

“It’s not brain surgery, but every person that comes into a museum leaves a little bit more enriched,” said Babineaux. “It’s a way for people to step outside of their immediate world … through this wonderful hands-on experience that gives our visitors a look into the wonderful world of scouting and the adventure of it and how all of those adventures and teamwork and camaraderie lend itself so well to the development of our youth, with leadership and equality and integrity and honesty and being trustworthy and all those points of the scout oath and law.”

With the wealth of history, art and culture stored in these museums and others, be sure to make time for Museum Day.

Tickets and a list of participating museums are available online at www.smithsonianmag.com.

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