NEA Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa and Blue Star Families CEO Kathy Roth-Douquet Announce the 2013 Launch of Blue Star Museums

A record-breaking 2,000 Blue Star Museums across America will offer free admission to military personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day


Group in front of neon map of the United states

Military families are front and center at the launch event for 2013 Blue Star Museums at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Also pictured, NEA Chairman Joan Shigekawa (far left) and far right from L-R), Blue Star Families CEO Kathy Roth-Douquet; Elizabeth Broun, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director, Smithsonian American Art Museum; Commander Leslie Hull-Ryde, Department of Defense Spokeswoman, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Sheri Robey-Lapan, Blue Star Families. Photo by James Kegley. Download hi-res photo

WASHINGTON, DC -- NEA Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa and Blue Star Families CEO Kathy Roth-Douquet announced the fourth annual launch of Blue Star Museums, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and a record-breaking 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to the nation’s active duty military personnel including National Guard and Reserve and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2013. Leadership support has been provided by MetLife Foundation through Blue Star Families. The program provides families an opportunity to enjoy the nation's cultural heritage and learn more about their new communities after completing a military move. The complete list of participating museums is available at

The launch of the program was announced today at a press event at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. Elizabeth Broun, Elizabeth Broun, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director, Smithsonian American Art Museum, welcomed guests and distinguished speakers including Roth-Douquet; Shigekawa; Commander Leslie Hull-Ryde, Department of Defense spokeswoman, Office of the Secretary of Defense; local military families; and representatives from the more than 40 Washington-area Blue Star Museums. Following the remarks, participants joined a docent-led tour of modern and contemporary artworks on view in the Lincoln Gallery at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which has been a Blue Star Museum since the program began in 2010.

"Blue Star Museums is a collaboration between the arts and military communities," said Shigekawa. "Our work with Blue Star Families and with more than 2,000 museums across the country ensures that we can reach out to military families and thank them for their service and sacrifice."


Young children with teacher studying a Calder sculpture

Col Michael Logar (USAF), his wife Shelly, and their daughter Ainsley, and Vivian Greentree and her son MJ Greentree enjoy a docent-led presentation about Alexander Calder's Nenuphar, part of the 2013 launch of Blue Star Museums at at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Photo by James Kegley. Download hi-res photo

"Blue Star Museums is something that service members and their families look forward to every year, and we are thrilled with the continued growth of the program," said Roth-Douquet. "Through this distinctive collaboration, service members and their families can connect with our national treasures and enjoy an unparalleled opportunity to visit some of the country’s finest museums for free."

"I salute the NEA, Blue Star Families and participating museums around the country for opening their doors to military families and spearheading this effort. This initiative will help provide valuable educational and cultural opportunities for our service members and their families," said United States Senator Jack Reed (Rhode Island), a former Army Ranger and Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, which oversees federal funding for the arts.

This year, more than 2,000 -- and counting -- museums are taking part in the initiative across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the American Samoa. More than 450 new museums have already registered as first-time participants, including the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California, Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum in Northport, Michigan, the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan, Alaska, and the World Museum of Mining in Butte, Montana. Museums are welcome to join throughout the summer, and this year’s roster represents not just fine arts museums, but also science museums, history museums, nature centers, and 75 children’s museums. The effort to recruit museums has involved partnerships with the American Alliance of Museums, the Association of Art Museum Directors, the Association of Children’s Museums, the American Association of State and Local History, and the Association of Science-Technology Centers.

About Blue Star Museums

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America. The program runs from Memorial Day, May 27, 2013 through Labor Day, September 2, 2013.

The free admission program is available to any bearer of a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), a DD Form 1173 ID card, or a DD Form 1173-1 ID card, which includes active duty U.S. military—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserve, as well as members of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, NOAA Commissioned Corps—and up to five family members. Please see the chart of the acceptable IDs (PDF). Some special or limited-time museum exhibits may not be included in this free admission program. For questions on particular exhibits or museums, please contact the museum directly. To find out which museums are participating, visit The site includes a list of participating museums and a map to help with visit planning. 

All summer long, Blue Star Museums will share stories through social media. Follow Blue Star Museums on Twitter (hashtag #BlueStarMuse), on Facebook, and read the Blue Star Blog for profiles of participating museums, stories about military families, and tips on getting the most out of your visit.   

Museums that wish to participate in Blue Star Museums may contact, or Wendy Clark at 202-682-5451.

This is the latest NEA program to bring quality arts programs to the military, veterans, and their families. Other NEA programs for the military have included the NEA/Walter Reed Healing Arts Partnership; Great American Voices Military Base Tour; and Shakespeare in American Communities Military Base Tour. 

About Blue Star Families

Blue Star Families is a national, nonprofit network of military families from all ranks and services, including guard and reserve, dedicated to supporting, connecting and empowering military families. With our partners, Blue Star Families hosts a robust array of morale and empowerment programs, including Books on Bases, Blue Star Museums, Operation Honor Corps, Blue Star Careers and Operation Appreciation. Blue Star Families also works directly with the Department of Defense and senior members of local, State and Federal government to bring the most important military family issues to light. Working in concert with fellow nonprofits, community advocates, and public officials, Blue Star Families raises awareness of the challenges and strengths of military family life and works to make military life more sustainable. Our worldwide membership includes military spouses, children, parents, and friends, as well as service members, veterans and civilians. To learn more about Blue Star Families, visit

About the National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at


NEA Media Sally Gifford

Blue Star Families AnnaMaria Mannino White