One of the best frugal gifts for families, especially larger families, is a museum membership. For a family of 4, the average admission is about $15 per person. That’s $60 for admission for one day, not including parking. For my family of 7, admission for the day would be $105.
The Benefits of Museum Memberships for Larger Families
However, I could buy the family membership, usually between $85 and $120 depending on the museum, and save.
- Most museums offer a 10% discount in the museum shop and on food bought in the museum.
- Most museums offer free or reduced parking for members.
- Most museums run renewal specials for members, or you can find one in Living Social or Groupon.
- Most museums offer free or reduced price classes and workshops for members.
- If you return at least once during your year of membership, you’ve cut the cost of admission for your family by half.
Frugal Christmas Gift for Families: Museum Memberships
Because buying a membership can end up being a waste if you don’t take advantage of it as planned, I have some tips for choosing which ones to buy.
- Find out if the museum offers reciprocal admission with other museums. How much do you need to pay for this benefit, AND will you take advantage of the benefit? Don’t forget to check out exclusions.
- Don’t buy it because you’re interested; buy it because they’re interested. Even though I love art and photography, we didn’t have a family art museum membership until this year. I chose a slightly smaller art museum because of the family art classes they offer on Sundays which appealed to my kids. If I need a boost of art for myself, I can go to the bigger one on Pay as You Wish Sunday.
- Keep an eye out for deals. I bought our Academy of Natural Science membership for half price thanks to a deal through Living Social.
- Sign up for email lists for local museums to find out when they offer free admission days or special deals. We visited the National Constitution Center in Philly for free because it was the last Sunday in Women’s History Month. Since most of my kids aren’t quite at the reading level for the exhibits, we’ll hold off on buying a membership for another year.
- Sometimes it pays to go up a level in the membership. Instead of sticking with the $75 family membership for a local maritime museum which covered up to 5 people each visit plus a visit to 2 historic ships, we went with the $100 level which included a discount for overnights in the museum and 2 complimentary tickets to the Battleship New Jersey which my history-loving children want to visit again. If I keep an eye out for Battleship ticket deals, the kids can visit the ship this summer as a special treat.
- Sometimes it’s better to stick with the individual membership level. At a local art museum, children under 12 are free. I could get the $35 membership for me and bring the kids for free.
- If you decide to join as a member at the last minute, find out if you can turn that day’s admission fees you paid into a membership. Usually, a membership pays for itself in 2 visits.
- Some museum memberships are tax-deductible so save the museum’s letter about your membership for tax time.
- Finally, ask for the membership as a family gift. My parents have given us a membership to the Franklin Institute each year as a Christmas gift in lieu of stuff. The Institute often has a deal in late fall for members wishing to gift memberships. When they gift one, they get an extra month added to their current membership.