Pacific Bonsai Museum

The Gift of Museums

Museums are a gift.

Our family recently received a much-apppreciated gift from my father. He volunteers at a small museum in Oregon and bought my husband and I each an annual membership there. We don’t live nearby and only visit a few times per year, but the great part about his gift is that it’s a reciprocal museum membership!

We live in the Seattle metro area, so after I received the membership cards and the North American Reciprocal Museum (NARM) association website and did a quick search of just our 50-mile radius found 36 sites!

According to the NARM website, here’s how it works:  “When you sign up with your favorite participating NARM institution you can receive reciprocal membership benefits. . .” This encompasses 1,176 sites i(mostly in the US) including art and historical museums, botanical gardens, and more.

The site is searchable by institution name, city, or state and you can set a radius distance for your search. And just like that you have great family and homeschool field trips at your fingertips for home or when traveling.

Often “reciprocal benefits” means free or reduced entry prices and sometimes discounts in the museum store, etc. There are some exclusions listed by site when you do a search.

With this membershp, we aren’t confined to our own backyard. Sometimes when my husband travels for work, we are able to tag along. Recently we had a short trip to Salem, OR and visited a site I’ve never seen although I grew up in Oregon–the Historic Deepwood Estate. It was a lovely summer visit when the English gardens were in bloom.

Because of the pandemic, many museum sites have been closed, but we have been short-listing all the regional gardens and the other sites when they are open. Just a few weeks ago we visited the Pacific Bonsai Museum in Federal Way, WA for the first time. A lovely outdoor, living museum, it contained a special exhibit including a bonsai began from seed in a Japanese internment camp during World World II. Although my son was relatively sure he wasn’t interested in bonsai trees/art, he enjoyed the exhibit more than I think he admitted and we read a bit about the art of bonsai afterwards.

I have compiled my short list for the coming year

LeMay–America’s Car Museum

Museum of Glass

Holocaust Center for Humanity

Tacoma Art Museum

So if your loved ones are asking for Christmas gift suggestions, this could be it

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