Press Contact: Trish Palao, Marketing and Communications Manager
Montshire Museum of Science, One Montshire Road, Norwich, VT 05055 

802-649-2200 x222 | trish.palao@montshire.org

Montshire Museum’s efforts to welcome low-income families exceed expectations

Feb 17, 2015
For Immediate Release

One year ago, Montshire Museum launched a major expansion of its Warm Welcome program to provide greater access to the Museum by disadvantaged children and families. More than 17,000 visits have resulted from this new program, far exceeding expectations.

High levels of participation are important for many reasons. Studies show that learning experiences that take place out of school—like those found in museums—are major predictors of children’s development, learning and educational achievement. For many young people, museum experiences help to enhance self-confidence, provide important skills, and increase motivation in school. Shared memories and learning experiences can strengthen family and social bonds.

For many years, Montshire has provided free admission passes and scholarships to families that work with local human service agencies. Despite the program’s strengths, Montshire’s staff and Board of Trustees felt that more could be done to provide an inclusive environment for people of all income levels.

“To develop our program, we reached out to local families, human service agencies and other museums for their input and guidance,” said Jennifer Rickards, the Museum’s Associate Director who oversees the Warm Welcome program. “We are really pleased that the response from the community has been so positive.”

The new Warm Welcome program offers $2 Museum admission or $15 memberships to families with incomes less than 200% of the federal poverty limit. Since Montshire expanded the program in January 2014, more than 2,500 people have visited the Museum for a one-time visit, and more than 1,200 have become members, offering them unlimited Museum visits for a year. In 2014, approximately 13% of Montshire’s 170,000 visitors came via Warm Welcome programs.

“We’ve worked hard to make the process quick, easy and respectful,” said Jennifer Rickards. “We encourage anyone who might be interested to review the eligibility criteria on our website, or to call the Museum for details.”

Montshire’s initial analyses show that Warm Welcome members have nearly identical visitation patterns as other members. This is particularly exciting because multiple museum visits have been shown to have a cumulative effect on learning, increasing the likelihood of long-term impact.

Montshire Museum’s Warm Welcome program is supported by individual donors, as well as the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation and the National Life Group Foundation.