In St. Louis we have a huge advantage over many cities. Nearly all of our museums offer free admission to the general public. That also presents a problem: while other museums can earn money through admissions, St. Louis must rely on donations and taxes. For that reason, museum memberships take on a different meaning in St. Louis. They’re a great way to invest in your community and if you live nearby memberships can help you keep an active social life. Don’t forget that memberships can be tax deductible too.
Here’s what St. Louis area museums have to say about memberships:
the Museum depends on membership support to present and maintain its internationally renowned collection, to offer exciting exhibitions, and to create innovative educational programs
–St. Louis Art Museum
your membership will help support the Zoo’s wildlife conservation projects in St. Louis and around the globe.
–St. Louis Zoo
help us fulfill our mission “to ignite and sustain an interest in life-long science and technology learning”. Members provide significant funding for our science education programs and community outreach activities. As a Member, your support will help us remain one of the top five science museums in the country serving more than 1.2 million visitors annually.
–St. Louis Science Center
Free Museums in St. Louis
St. Louis Art Museum
Members at all levels receive free admission to exhibits, members-only exhibition previews and special events, 10% discount in the Museum Shop, 10% discount on Museum dining, and free subscription to special periodicals. Memberships start at $55 for one or two individuals.
- The $75 family plan covers 1-2 adults and children under 18, it also includes family events and discounts on art classes for kids.
- At the $150 price point you get all the benefits of the family plan, a $15 gift certificate for the Museum shop, and Reciprocal Benefits at more than 500 museums nationwide. Reciprocal benefits typically include free or member-priced admission at participating museums, honoring of your member’s discount on purchases, and other discounts may apply.
My favorite plan at the Art Museum is their Young Friends program for those in their 20s and 30s. For $65/year you can enjoy free admission to all exhibits, free or discounted admission to all Young Friend events, a 10% discount, and subscriptions to publications. The Young Friend events are typically held 5-7 times a year and include cocktail parties, nights at the Opera, and other gatherings.
Missouri History Museum
The History Museum has a limited number of memberships available.
- The Family Plan ($65) covers 2 adults and 2 children under 18. It includes free or reduced admission to exhibits, member-only previews, subscriptions to periodicals, a Members Appreciation Day, membership in the reciprocal Time Travelers program, discounts in the museum and Drury hotels, and a $5 gift certificate to the museum shop.
- The Young Friends Plan ($40) covers 1 adult. It includes similar perks as a family plan and focuses on inviting you to key young adult events and volunteer opportunities as well as a free gift.
St. Louis Science Center
The science center includes free parking passes, discounted OMNIMAX tickets, a separate ticket station, 10% discount at the gift shop, subscriptions, and special exhibit previews and discounts. The $50 Science Supporter package includes reciprocal benefits, membership for 2 people and 4 parking passes.
- The Family and Friends Package ($85) includes 6 guests and parking passes, 10 OMNIMAX tickets, free admission to the discovery room and planetarium, and all the science supporter benefits.
- The Young Friends ($60) program here includes 4 OMNIMAX tickets, 6 parking passes and discounts. Special events are held for young members including trivia nights, 5K runs, cocktail parties, and networking events with key St. Louis personalities.
St. Louis Zoo
- Conservation advocates ($50) get reciprocal privileges, periodicals, and a Zoo Friends Day admission.
- Zoo Goers ($65) get the inclusions of conservation advocates, discounts, 36 Anywhere Passes (redeemable for Railroad, Children’s Zoo, or Sea Lion show tickets), and 6 free parking passes in the Zoo parking lot.
- The family plan ($80) includes the Zoo Goers benefits with 48 Anywhere Plus passes (redeemable for Railroad, Carousel, Children’s Zoo, or Sea Lion show tickets), and special birthday treats for kids under 12.
The Zoo also has a Young Friends program. For $60/year you get 20 Anywhere Passes, 6 parking passes, Four free Jammin’ at the Zoo tickets, 4 drink tickets, discounts, reciprocal admissions, and invites to signature zoo events like Zootini.
Treat Me in St. Louis
Explore St. Louis has a seasonal program with limited membership passes to multiple museums. Treat Me in St. Louis includes 5 key St. Louis locations. Adult passes are $33.75 (a 45% discount) and children’s passes are $19 (a 17% discount).
- Missouri Botanical Gardens: 1 general admission and 10% gift shop discounts
- Missouri History Museum: Special exhibit admission, 10% gift shop discount, $10 gift certificate for Bixby’s restaurant
- St. Louis Art Museum: $10 off a $25 gift shop purchase
- St. Louis Science Center: Admission to a planetarium space show, free parking pass
- St. Louis Zoo: Admission to the children’s zoo, 20% off gift shop purchases of $25 or more
The current Treat Me in St. Louis pass is valid through April 1, 2012 but there’s usually a new pass offered each summer and winter. If you’re looking for spring and summer discounts in St. Louis, check the Explore St. Louis page regularly for the new offers.