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This summer, 50 Michigan museums are free for active military families

Detroit Institute of Arts
Maia C/Flickr
Inside the Detroit Institute of Arts

You can almost feel the parental summer panic start to kick in. 

School is almost out.

And there are only so many times you can take the kids to the pool before you all go insane.

Those long, hot days can be especially tough for military families, who may only have one parent at home.

That's why 50 Michigan museums are opening their doors, free of charge, to active military personnel and their families this summer.

It's part of a national program called Blue Star Museums.

About 2,000 museums are participating around the country, including the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Pam Marcil heads the DIA's public relations department.

She says the DIA welcomed about 350 service and family members through the program last summer.

And if you're used to thinking of military benefits as housing or tuition, Marcil says access to art is more than just a nice freebie.

"It's like, food nourishes the body, and art nourishes the soul. It's also a bit of an escape from day-to-day life. And people can come here and get lost in the art, so to speak, and also make connections to their own lives."

And while the free air conditioning and family activities are great, for some, it might even mean a free date night.

"It’s a not-so-well-kept secret that on Fridays, we’re open until 10 pm,” says Marcil. “And we have live music, and adults can have a wine or a beer at our bar, people can eat and shop, it's really just a fun night."

A full list of participating Michigan museums is available here.

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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