If you are a member of an art-loving family living in San Antonio, then you probably have memberships to several local art museums. In addition to the familiar membership benefits like free admission and access to members-only events, are you taking full advantage of museum reciprocity benefits to visit other art museums across Texas and the United States? This blog post helps you sort out which art museum reciprocal admission networks you can unlock using your memberships to art museums in the San Antonio area.
Art Museums in San Antonio with Membership Programs
Art museums are a great resource for helping your children learn about art and art history. Art unlocks our compassion for humans living in other cultures, other circumstances, and other periods of time. Enjoying art museums as a family is a fun way to spend time together and build a foundation for a lifetime of learning. Homeschoolers know this, and many of them spend lots of time taking advantage of what museums have to offer. Those of us with children in public or private schools can visit museums for enrichment.
Hopefully, your children are learning about art and art history at school, but visits to art museums provide access to materials beyond what teachers can provide in the classroom. Field trips are wonderful, but schools have limited resources and instructional time to dedicate to activities outside the classroom. Being present as a parent to spark and guide conversations with my children, including discussions of difficult topics, is an important role for me.
How do you make access to museums more affordable, especially if you are a frequent visitor? Joining museum membership programs gives you access to free admission at those museums, as well as benefits like members-only hours, member-exclusive events, and discounts on museum store merchandise and camps. Here are some of our favorite art museums in San Antonio, and links to their membership programs:
- Artpace: membership
- Blue Star Contemporary: membership
- Briscoe Western Art Museum: membership
- Institute of Texan Cultures: membership
- McNay Art Museum: membership
- San Antonio Museum of Art: membership
- Witte Museum: membership
Reciprocal Admission Networks for Art Museums
Have you ever used your membership at a San Antonio-area art museum to get free admission at a museum in another city? Reciprocal museum admission programs let you do that in cities all over Texas and the United States. Museums have banded together to share membership benefits with members of other museums. These reciprocal benefits enhance the value of museum memberships at a low up-front cost, and help museums build a loyal base of supporters.
Here are some examples of reciprocal admission networks, as well as which San Antonio art museums participate in them and which membership levels include reciprocal benefits.
- Mod/Co: The Modern and Contemporary Reciprocal Program is managed by the Museum of
Contemporary Art Chicago; here is a list of participating museums. In San Antonio, Artpace Collaborator members ($500), Blue Star Contemporaries ($250), and McNay Art Museum Supporting members ($150) receive Mod/Co benefits.
- NARM: North American Reciprocal Museum Association has a map of participating museums. In San Antonio, Briscoe Western Art Museum Partner members ($250), Institute of Texan Cultures Family members ($100), McNay Art Museum Sustaining members ($550), and San Antonio Museum of Art Associate members ($250) receive NARM benefits.
- ROAM: The Reciprocal Organization of Associated Museums has a list of participating museums. In San Antonio, Briscoe Western Art Museum Supporter members ($125), McNay Art Museum Sustaining members ($550), and San Antonio Museum of Art Associate members ($250) receive ROAM benefits.
- Smithsonian Affiliate: The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. has relationships with affiliate museums and maintains a directory. In San Antonio, Institute of Texan Cultures members (starting at $40) and Witte Museum members (starting at $50) receive Smithsonian Affiliate benefits.
- TRM: The Texas Reciprocal Membership program has a list of participating museums. In San Antonio, Briscoe Western Art Museum Benefactor members ($750), McNay Art Museum Contributing members ($275), and San Antonio Museum of Art Associate members ($250) receive TRM benefits.
Use Your San Antonio Art Museum Memberships for Free or Discounted Visits to These Texas Art Museums
So, look at the cards in your wallet—or go sign up for some new memberships—and see which art museums around Texas you can access with reciprocal benefits. These art museums are listed in alphabetical order by name, including the city if it’s not already obvious, and mentions which reciprocal networks they participate in.
- Amarillo Museum of Art: ROAM, TRM
- Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth: ROAM
- Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi: TRM
- Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont: NARM, ROAM, TRM
- Blaffer Art Museum, Houston: Mod/Co
- Blanton Museum of Art, Austin: NARM, ROAM, TRM
- Brownsville Museum of Fine Art: NARM
- Chinati Foundation, Marfa: Mod/Co, TRM
- Contemporary Arts Museum Houston: Mod/Co, NARM, ROAM
- Contemporary Austin: NARM, TRM
- Crow Collection of Asian Art, Dallas: NARM
- Dallas Museum of Art, ROAM
- El Paso Museum of Art: NARM
- Greater Denton Arts Council: NARM
- Harry Ransom Center, Austin: NARM
- Houston Center for Contemporary Craft: NARM, ROAM
- Irving Arts Center: Smithsonian Affiliate
- International Museum of Art and Science, McAllen: Smithsonian Affiliate
- Kerr Arts and Cultural Center: NARM
- Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth: NARM
- Lawndale Art Center, Houston: NARM
- LHUCA, Lubbock: NARM
- Longview Museum of Fine Arts: NARM, ROAM
- Menil Collection, Houston: NARM, ROAM
- Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth: Mod/Co, NARM, ROAM
- Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: TRM
- Museum of the Southwest, Midland: NARM, ROAM
- Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas: NARM, TRM
- Ellen Noël Art Museum of the Permian Basin, Odessa: Smithsonian Affiliate
- Old Jail Art Center, Albany: NARM
- Texas Quilt Museum, La Grange: NARM
- Tyler Museum of Art: NARM
- Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, Austin: NARM
- Women & Their Work, Austin: NARM
Texas is a big place, but this list is just the tip of the iceberg—there are hundreds more art museums across the United States and North America that participate in these reciprocal networks. Now do you feel inspired to get on the road and see some art?
Planning Ahead to Use Art Museum Reciprocity Benefits
As you make your plans, it’s a good idea to look up the listings to check for restrictions. For example, there may be a geographic restriction—even some Austin museums may be too close. When you show up, be sure to bring your membership card from the relevant art museum in San Antonio, as well as a picture ID. Depending on the network or the museum, there may be limits on how many people you can bring in free for one visit on your membership; similarly, some institutions offer discounted rather than free admission. Also, don’t expect to get in free to galas or other special event fundraisers. However, some places offer do offer discounts at their gift shops. If a popular exhibit is in high demand and tickets are selling out days in advance, then go ahead and pay for advance tickets; that’s better than showing up in person to use your reciprocal benefits and find out the exhibit is sold out for the duration of your trip.
We hope this guide helps inspire your art-loving family to use your memberships to art museums in the San Antonio area to go explore other cities. Your membership at local San Antonio art museums is not only supporting those institutions, but also strengthening the network of art museums across Texas, the United States, and North America.
- [link to post about children’s museums and science centers]
- “San Antonio History Museum Reciprocal Membership Benefits,” Inga Cotton, San Antonio Charter Moms, April 17, 2019
- [link to post about zoos, aquariums, and gardens]
- “Opening Young Eyes to ‘Spain: 500 Years of Spanish Paintings’ at the San Antonio Museum of Art,” Inga Cotton, San Antonio Charter Moms, July 11, 2018
- “Tips for Taking Your Family to the McNay Art Museum to See ‘Immersed: Local to Global Art Sensations,'” Inga Cotton, San Antonio Charter Moms, June 20, 2018
- The Art Museum Reciprocal Network (AMRN) does not have any members in San Antonio (yet), but the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin is a member, and AMRN has an outstanding network.