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National program at Scranton museum provides more access to the arts

The Everhart Museum in Nay Aug Park in Scranton.
Aimee Dilger
The Everhart Museum in Nay Aug Park in Scranton.

The Museums for All program is opening the doors to the Everhart Museum to more people.

"We're really excited to bring in that underserved audience of people who maybe have financial barriers," said Camille Dantone, community and family programs manager for the museum in Scranton.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services started the program. Those receiving food assistance, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or WIC, can now view the collection for free at the museum of natural history, science and art in Nay Aug Park.

Dantone heard about Museums for All through the grapevine.

Tim Holmes, the museum’s CEO, approved the idea immediately.

"When Dr. Everhart opened this place 116 years ago, this is what he envisioned," he said. “This is our goal here. We are a public institution, we want this place to be open for all."

Participating museums range from small institutions to museums as large as the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. They offer reduced admission from free to $3. The Everhart is one of eight museums in the region to offer the Museums for All Program — and one of 87 in the state.

The Lewisburg Children's Museum, located at 815 Market St., Lewisburg, is part of the Museums for All program.
Kat Bolus
The Lewisburg Children's Museum, located at 815 Market St., Lewisburg, is part of the Museums for All program.

The Lewisburg Children’s Museum was founded in 2017. It has been part of Museums for All since its opening. Instead of $9 to get in, it’s $2.

"Inclusivity and access is one of our top priorities," said Mary Beth Harris, executive director of the museum.

Nothing in the museum is behind glass. There's a grocery store with cardboard and plastic food items, a stage with costumes and props and a play doctor's office. Kids can touch, experience and play with everything creatively.

Harris said 16% of their admissions last year were through the Museums for All program.

“There are lots of kids out there that have lots of opportunities. But it's important to remember that not every child has a space where they can kind of explore and use their bodies and use their imagination and have props and parts of the museum to really understand the world in a different way," she said.

Holmes said the Everhart does not require an art degree to walk through.

"It's not abstract art in here ... we feature local things, the folk art that we have, many of it has a local connection to it," he said. "It's just beautiful stuff.”

Dantone felt the program was a good fit to get more people in the museum.

"I was someone who was allowed in the door. So why not allow everybody else?” she said.

To receive discounted entry for up to four people into the museums, participants must show proof of WIC or SNAP benefits and a photo I.D.

The Everhart also has discounted programs for Armed Forces members and veterans and other communities.

Local participating museums include:

  • Bloomsburg Children’s Museum
  • Hanover Area Historical Society
  • Joseph Priestley House Museum
  • Eckley Miners' Village
  • Anthracite Heritage Museum
  • World of Little League Museum
Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.

You can email Kat at katbolus@wvia.org