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Program offers free museum visits

WASHINGTON -- Service members and their families can visit a wide array of museums for free from Memorial Day through Labor Day, courtesy of the second annual Blue Star Museums program.

Kathy Roth-Douquet, the Blue Star Families chairman, and Rocco Landesman, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, announced this year's program May 23 in San Diego.

"Blue Star Museums recognizes and thanks our military families for all they are doing for our country," Mr. Landesman said, "and simultaneously begins young people on a path to become lifelong museum-goers."

Ms. Roth-Douquet noted the program's success in its first year.

"We are thrilled that 300,000 military family members visited our partner museums in the summer of 2010," she said." We hope to exceed that number this year as the military community takes advantage of the rich cultural heritage they defend and protect every day.

"We appreciate the NEA and the nation's museums who chose to partner with us," she continued. "We also are grateful to our friends at the MetLife Foundation, the lead supporter of the Blue Star Museums outreach initiative, whose generous donation helps make our work possible."

This year, more than 1,300 museums in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and American Samoa are taking part in the initiative, including more than 500 new museums this year, officials said, and others may join throughout the summer.

The Blue Star Museums program runs from May 30 through Sept. 5. The free admission program is available to active-duty military and their immediate family members -- military ID holder and up to five immediate family members. Active-duty National Guard and Reserve members also are eligible.