Changes to the ACM Reciprocal Membership

Bad new Children’s Museums lovers! As of April 1, 2013 (yes, it’s a year away), the Association of Children’s Museums Reciprocal Program will be changing.

The current program allows you to purchase a ACM Reciprocal Membership from any of the participating museums and you’ll receive all the benefits of membership at that museum, plus you’ll receive free admission for at least 4 family members at other participating ACM member museums throughout the country.

As of April 1, 2013 the name will change to the ACM Reciprocal Network. Additionally:

  • Families with reciprocal memberships will no longer receive free admission at participating museums, but only 50% discount on admission to those museums for up to 6 family members.
  • Museums will be required to sell family memberships with ACM Reciprocal Network benefits for $125 or more.
  • All current local restrictions will be eliminated.

It’s also possible that these changes may spur some museums to discontinue their membership with ACM, although I haven’t heard of any doing that yet.

My advice: Take full advantage of this program while you can! Purchase a membership to a children’s museum now (if you don’t already have one) and visit the museums as much as you can over the next year.

My previous post about ACM Reciprocal Memberships includes a spreadsheet of local museums that currently participate in this program and the cost and benefits of their ACM Reciprocal Family Memberships. This spreadsheet may help you choose the best museum to join to take full advantage of the program before the changes next year.

For more information about some of the local children’s museums, visit my posts of the following museums:

Update: I was confused (as were a few others) about what the effect date meant and whether it applied to everyone or whether memberships valid after the April 1, 2013 date would be subject to these new rules now. I spoke to someone at ACM and she confirmed that this is effective April 1, 2013 for everyone, meaning that if you purchase a membership today you will receive free admission to member museums through until April 1, 2013, and discounted admission after.

How do you feel about the changes to the ACM Reciprocal Program? Will it affect whether you purchase a museum membership? Will if change how often you visit children’s museums?


  1. I just renewed our children’s museum membership. Was so disappointed when I read this news. Glad it’s still a year away though.

  2. I think this is sad and unfortunately another example of people cutting back on the arts, whether it’s teaching them, experiencing them, or having access to them. Why did they make the change?

    • I agree! I’m not sure why they made the change. I would assume it’s a decision made based on what the member museums want, but I really don’t know. I am not pleased about it and I’m afraid it will limit access for a lot of families, but I hope the museums benefit a little from the increased revenue.

  3. Hi, I’m also still trying to assess whether these changes end up being important for my family or not. Google brought me to your post, as we actually live in West Michigan. We’ve been members of the Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing, MI ( which is a neat place. Their reaction to the ACM Reciprocal changes was to eliminate their “Family Plus” membership level, as it was a $100 option, and thus doesn’t meet the new $125 minimum. So their options now are either the $75 “Family” membership (which includes ASTC reciprocity, but not ACM) or $250 “Supporting” membership, which does still include both ACM and ASTC reciprocal rights. Closer to West Michigan, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum (also a great place) offers a $150 “Level Four” membership that includes ACM, but not ASTC. And a new option I’ve found is that effective 5/1/2012, the Grand Rapids Public Museum is adding ASTC reciprocity; and we’re already members there. With our children now being 12 and almost 9, I think I’m realizing that the ACM reciprocity isn’t as useful to us as the ASTC. So, lots to digest. I do know that reciprocity is very worthwhile, as we’ve saved greatly when visiting MSI, Great Lakes Science Center (in Cleveland), and Carnegie Science Center (Pittsburgh).

    • Wow, a jump from a $100 membership to $250 is huge. I would probably go with the $75 option too. I do like the ASTC reciprocity, but we don’t travel great distances often so it’s frustrating that the free admission only applies to places more than 90 miles away. I can see how it would be a huge savings for families that travel though.
      Thanks for stopping by Toddling Around Chicagoland; I hope you’ll return to my site if you plan any travels near Chicago.

  4. this is sad 🙁 means we will probably give up our Children’s Museum membership and just stick with ASTC museums. Right now we have both!

    • I know.. very sad. I will definitely be using the ACM membership as much as possible before next year. We have the ASTC membership too, but since it doesn’t provide free admission to places within 90 miles of the membership museum I haven’t found it very useful. It’s nice to have, but not as good as the original ACM program and it’ll wind up being about the same for us as the ACM once the new policy goes into effect.

  5. Wow, the reciprocal memberships keep getting more and more complex and difficult to take advantage of-or to just keep them straight! We also have an AZA membership (zoos and aquariums) and those went wonky within the last year or two, also. I’m going to hate having to chose, too 🙁 My kiddos absolutely love our memberships, so it’s going to be a tough decision…

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