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Reciprocal Museum Membership Programs

Reciprocal membership programs offer free or discounted admission plus discounts at thousands of museums, zoos, gardens, science centers, parks, and more. By simply being a member of one museum, access and benefits are extended to every museum with the same network.

This little known benefit is one of the best ways save money and enjoy the many amazing museums in the the United States. The reciprocal networks vary but we have broken them all down for you below.

Check out all the free museum days in Southern California and how to get free and discounted museum admission.

Reciprocal Museum Membership Programs

Reciprocal Museum, Art, Zoo, and Garden Programs

Note: There is no best reciprocal program as each program has unique benefits and access and the best network will vary greatly on the needs and preferences of the person deciding.

North American Reciprocal Museum (NARM) Association

Best for art museums with some specialty museums, huge network!

The North American Reciprocal Museum (NARM) Association network includes over 1,200 art museums and galleries, historical museums and societies, botanical gardens, children’s museums, zoos and more. When you sign up with your favorite participating NARM institution you can receive reciprocal membership benefits across the United States, Canada, Bermuda, El Salvador and Mexico. Find participating institutions.

Museum Alliance Reciprocal Program (MARP)

Best for art museums, limited network

Qualifying members of participating museums are entitled to the free admission upon presentation of the Reciprocal Membership card. See the list of participating museums and institutions.

Reciprocal Organization of Associated Museums (ROAM)

Best for art museums, history museums, and gardens, limited network

The ROAM Reciprocal Membership Program is a network of museums in North America and beyond who extend the benefit of reciprocal free admission to one another’s members. See the list of ROAM museums.

LACMA Membership

Best for art museums, limited network

Membership includes reciprocal admission privileges at 24 museums nationwide.

Modern and Contemporary Reciprocal Program (Mod/Co)

Best for modern and contemporary museums

Mod/Co is a reciprocal admission program for North American modern and contemporary museums that have a valid membership program. There are currently 82 institutions in the United States and Canada who share reciprocity with all other Mod/Co institutions. See the full list of museums.

ACM Reciprocal Network

Best for children’s museums

200 museums participate in the network and reciprocate 50% off general admission for up to six (6) people. If your family would like to purchase a museum membership with ACM Reciprocal Network benefits, call or visit your hometown children’s museum. Find a Children’s Museum in the network.

Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) Passport Program

Best for Science & Technology Centers

If you are a member of a science center or museum participating in the ASTC Passport Program, you are eligible for benefits such as free general admission when you travel outside of your local area. Exclusions apply and benefits vary.

American Horticultural Society (AHS)

Best for gardens including botanical, arboretums, flowers and butterfly farms

A current membership card from the American Horticultural Society (join now) or from a garden participating in the Reciprocal Admissions Program (RAP) entitles you to special admission privileges and discounts at 345+ gardens throughout North America.

Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)

Best for Zoos and Aquariums

AZA-accredited zoo or aquarium members receive free or discounted admission to AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums that participate in the AZA Reciprocal Admissions Program.

Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM)

Best for Jewish museums

CAJM’s reciprocal program extends free admission to other participating Jewish museums in the network. Currently these museums participate.


Federal, State & Local Park Annual Passes

America the Beautiful Pass

The America the Beautiful pass covers entrance fees to over 2,000 federal recreation sites at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person). Children ages 15 or under are admitted free.

State Park Passes

Not every state offers a state park pass but fortunately California does. In fact they have many so it can be tricky figuring which park pass is best for you. Here is the full list of California park passes.

Free California State Library Park Pass

California public library-card holders can check out the State Library Parks Pass via their local public library. The pass grants free vehicle day-use entry to over 200 participating state park units operated by State Parks. If you don’t have a library card, visit your local library to get one. The library card and park pass are free.

Orange County Parks Pass

OC Parks Parking pass permits one vehicle to park on a day-use basis. Valid at all County of Orange operated regional recreation facilities parking areas with controlled access gates.

Annual Pass Types:

  • Annual County Beach parking pass
  • County Beach Annual Parking Pass
  • All County Parks and Beaches Annual Parking Pass

Park & Beach Locations:


Limitations

  • Parking costs are often not included as a reciprocal benefit
  • Most museums don’t offer free admission to special events, tours, add-ons, or performances to those using reciprocal benefits.
  • You must choose a participating museum to join and there is often a cost to join.
  • The closest, most frequented or favorite museum may not be the best museum membership to join. Joining another with better benefits or lower costs may still grant access to your favorite.
  • Most of the museum/garden/zoo reciprocal programs do not honor the reciprocal benefits at locations that are within close proximity (90 miles) of your home address or the address of the museum the pass was purchased from.
  • Always confirm the benefit still applies ahead of time.

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Monique McArthur is a mother of two, writer, and creator of delicious recipes. In her spare time she enjoys exploring all that Orange County has to offer, traveling, shopping, running with her dogs and spending time with family.