It was a balmy January day in sunny Arizona when a friend and I decided to visit the Phoenix Art Museum to take in its monumental Kehinde Wiley exhibition (if you don't know this artist's work, Google him now - you'll be blown away). A little piece of me gasped when I saw the reduced admission for a senior was $18; I couldn't help but think how lucky we are in Myrtle Beach to have a free admission museum. But I had a secret weapon in my arsenal-my Art Museum membership card with its little gold North American Reciprocal (NARM) sticker in one corner (more about that later).
I asked the admission person if the Phoenix Art Museum was a NARM member. After looking puzzled for a brief moment, her face lit up like a sign in Times Square. "Yes, we just got all our ducks in a row. We are officially a NARM museum today, and you are the first visitor to inquire!"
That meant free admission for me; I could hang on to my $18. But I magnanimously decided to use my savings to pay for my friend. "Oh no, your guest is free too," the cheerful employee announced to my enormous delight. So off we went to spend hours oohing and ahhing over a marvelous collection of paintings by the truly great Wiley. The cherry on my sundae came when I went to purchase a Wiley catalog and saved 10 percent on my gift shop purchase-ka-ching, $40 saved in total! Thank you, NARM.
Are you wondering how you can get in on great deals like this? You must already be a Museum member since you are receiving this newsletter, right? So all you have to do is increase your annual membership level to that of a donor ($100) or more. All members at this level and beyond will find a small gold sticker on their membership cards with the words "North American Reciprocal."
The North American Reciprocal Museum (NARM) Association is one of the largest reciprocal membership programs in the world with members in the United States, Bermuda, Canada, El Salvador and Mexico. NARM has 880 arts, cultural and historical institutions along with botanical gardens, children's museums, science and technology centers and more that offer their individual NARM qualified members reciprocal benefits.
It's easy for individuals and families to participate. Join the Art Museum at the NARM level of membership (Donor/$100). Then, simply present your current membership card validated with accepted NARM identification to any participating NARM institution to receive:
- Free/member admission during regular museum hours
- Member discounts at museum shops
- Possible discounts on concert/lecture tickets
If you like to stay close to home there currently are 11 museums in South Carolina that offer NARM benefits, including the Gibbes and the Halsey in Charleston. But if you're like me and like to stretch your wings, the possibilities are beyond tantalizing (visit the NARM website for a complete list of participating museums: https://narmassociation.org). To just mention a few of my personal free highlights, I've seen Chihuly glass in Montreal, Annie Leibowitz photographs in our own Columbia, Georgia O'Keefe works in Santa Fe and Andrew Wyeth paintings in Maine...not to mention those Kehinde Wiley's in Arizona.