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Children’s Museum of The Upstate begins access program for low-income families

The Children’s Museum of The Upstate (TCMU) has joined Museums for All, a signature access program of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), administered by the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) and designed to encourage people of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly and build lifelong museum-going habits.

The program supports those receiving food assistance (SNAP) benefits, allowing them to visit TCMU for a minimal fee of $3 per person, up to four people, with the presentation of a SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card and a valid SC ID. Similar free and reduced admission is available to eligible members of the public at more than 300 museums across the country. Museums for All is part of TCMU’s broad commitment to seek, include, and welcome all audiences as it enters its 10th anniversary year.

According to TCMU’s Interim President & CEO, Michelle Shain, TCMU’s decision to participate in the Museums for All program was to address barriers to museum access for low income families in the Upstate. She says, “data shows us that continual museum visits have a lifelong impact on children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. As a world class learning institution, we believe it is our duty to assist those in the Upstate who lack economic stability and cannot afford ongoing trips to the museum. With this program in place, all Upstate children will now have the chance to visit us on a regular basis.” She adds, “we are very excited about the possibilities Museums for All will bring to Upstate kids, and the positive impact it will have across our Upstate communities.”

Jessica Hayes, TCMU’s vice president of programming, notes the need for more educational resources for low income families in the upstate. “Children from all financial backgrounds must have access to print-rich environments, including opportunities to read and play together in a safe space. The Museums for All program can help close the gap in language and vocabulary skills beginning at an early age,” she says. “The museum’s robust literacy programming including Story Time and More for children under age 5, Baby and Me Story Time, plus exhibits that encourage vocabulary recognition, like Publix Market and Grandma Betty’s Farm, will all be available to children at a more accessible rate thanks to Museums for All.”

Museums for All helps expand access to museums and raises public awareness about how museums in the U.S. are reaching their entire communities. More than 300 institutions participate in the initiative, including art museums, children’s museums, science centers, botanical gardens, zoos, history museums, and more. Participating museums are located nationwide, representing more than 40 states.

The Children's Museum of the Upstate is a non-profit organization dedicated to sparking a lifelong passion for curiosity and learning through play. As the world’s 10th largest children's museum and first children's museum to become a Smithsonian Affiliate, TCMU engages communities through interactive exhibits, online resources and award-winning public and youth education programs. For more information, visit